Trash Talking

2:00 PM -- What we throw away says more about us than what we keep.

I first heard that line in a poker game. And I was losing badly. How badly? Well, I had to walk home that night. Shoeless.

But the king of recycling himself, Jeff Ferrell, is also using it as a tagline for his new tome on the art and sociology of trash-picking, recycling, and just generally making a living off what society casts off. As a stuffy academic, Jeff has lent his expert voice to Light Reading a time or two over the years. But in his down time, he's a different kind of garbage collector.

As a reporter, I'm no stranger to dumpster diving, though I've never made a dime off it. But I went on a "dive" with Jeff while he was researching the book, and he found dozens of whole, working objects -- including an antique projection camera -- that he cleaned up and resold for a tidy profit.

Indeed, there's gold in them thar dumpsters. More importantly, there's copper wire, aluminum paneling, and bulk tin, which fetches a good sum at the scrap yard.

In a moment of stupidity, Jeff recently asked me to tell a few folks about his book signing at Connections Book Store in Fort Worth (1 mile South of I-30; corner of Forrest Park and Park Hill) on Jan. 28 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Of course, I refused. In this space, I only mention books that mention me by name. And Ferrell's book only refers to me indirectly. So screw him.

What I should do instead is get a bunch of folks to bring bags of refuse to Jeff's book signing so they can ask his professional opinion on what they should keep. Even better... Instead of buying Jeff's book new, you should wait until someone else is ready to toss out a copy. Then fish it out of the trash bin.

There's your stupid plug, Jeff. Now will you please give me back my shoes?

— Phil Harvey, Garbage Editor, Light Reading

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:08:53 AM
re: Trash Talking You think they're counting vitamins, too?

I'm iron-deficient, but my doctors says that doesn't necessarily make me a conservationist.

Larry, Monkey 12/5/2012 | 4:08:53 AM
re: Trash Talking Tell the truth, Philip. Do you think that stat make any sense at all? I may be just a monkey, but I get by on 6 ounces of copper per day. Tops.
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:08:53 AM
re: Trash Talking We're running out. Seriously.

Scientific American is reporting this week that "residents of Canada, Mexico and the U.S. required an average of 170 kilograms of copper per person. Multiply that by overall population estimates of 10 billion people by 2100 and the world will require 1.7 billion metric tons of copper by that date--more than even the most generous estimate of available resources."

Does that figure include our DSL lines?

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