Consider all the different variables you might include while collecting data (size, material, recyclable, time thrown out, organic, etc.) – these are up to you, but including more will be helpful for the analysis.
For this project, students will be asked to emulate the work of Archaeologist William Rathje who pioneered the study of garbage (Garbology) as a way to understand the lifestyle and consumption patterns of a society. Students will be asked to predict their own garbage production, and then to actually monitor what they throw away for three days. Lastly, students must analyze the similarities and differences of their findings with their predictions and reflect on the utility of Garbology as an archaeological tool.
1) First, read/view the following to learn more about the method of Garbology. You should cite these readings and the textbook in your final write-up.
Interview with Dr. Bill Rathje
2) Next, write up 1-2 paragraphs of predictions/hypotheses (part 1) about what garbage you expect to produce over the three days you will be tracking. Include what you believe the major types of garbage will be, the amount will be, and why you are making these predictions. Be specific here so you can make direct comparisons with your data after you collect it!
3) Create a simple table/chart which includes a place for you to write down what you are throwing away and its size. Keep this table by your garbage receptacles for the next three days and make sure you record each entry as you throw things away. This is the “hard” data (part 2) and you will need to submit it as part of your project.
- Consider all the different variables you might include while collecting data (size, material, recyclable, time thrown out, organic, etc.) – these are up to you, but including more will be helpful for the analysis.
4) After the three days, look at your data and compare it to your initial predictions and describe the results (part 3). Sort each entry by garbage type and amount. Did your garbage production match your predictions or was it very different? Make sure to explain your findings: What were the major types of garbage you produced? How much did you end up producing? When were you producing the most/least of each type, and what do you think accounts for your data? You can include visuals if you’d like or describe the findings in this section.
5) Lastly, conclude in 2-3 paragraphs by describing your thoughts on the project and what you believe to be the merits and drawbacks of “Garbology” (part 4). Specifically, what might this analysis tell you about your identity, lifestyle and patterns of consumption? Think like an archaeologist here! And be sure to reference course material (links above and textbook) to support your conclusions.
6) Your final submission should include your predictions (part 1), your table of data (part 2), your findings (part 3), and your conclusion (part 4). The total length of the paper should be about 3-4 pages (double-spaced, one-inch margins, in 12-point Times New Roman font). Mark each section on your final submission.