Wacky Word Wednesday

Garbology – Wacky Word Wednesday

Don’t forget to take the trash out with today’s Wacky Word Wednesday, a weekly celebration of the wackiest and most interesting words from around the world!

From TermWiki.com, the definition of today’s wacky word:

quo top

gar·bol·o·gy

[gahr-boluh]

-noun

the study of the trash discarded by a person or society to learn what it reveals about social or cultural patterns

quo botGarbology

Garbology is said to have its roots in the University of Arizona, beginning as a class project for two students in 1973. Soon after, Professor William Rathje established the first field of study focused on garbology. Rathje believes the study of garbage is a major source of information about human nature and society.

In 1973, Professor Rathje began the Tuscan Garbage Project, collecting data from trash bins and comparing the contents with information provided by the owners of the garbage. The results revealed that the freely volunteered information from individuals about their consumption habits didn’t always match up with the contents of their trash bins. These finding concluded that there is a difference between self-reported and actual behaviors.

Today, many schools have echoed Rathje’s interest in understanding culture and society through what is hidden in trash cans. From second-graders to universities, elements of garbology have been introduced to curriculums across ages, states, and schools.

Many people mistakenly consider A.J. Weberman as the man who created the term garbology. Weberman is actually best-known for popularizing the term through his obsession with none other than the great Bob Dylan. Weberman’s fixation with Dylan (and his trash) was so great that it prompted him to coin the term Dylanology.

In 2006, a documentary directed by James Bluemel and Oliver Ralfe was released, titled Tangled up with Dylan – The Ballad of A.J. Weberman. The film follows “the life, times and crimes of notorious Bob Dylan obsessive and Garbology inventor, A.J. Weberman,”and includes a rare recorded telephone conversation between Weberman and Dylan himself.

The times they are achangin’ and so is society’s take on trash. What are your thoughts about garbology?

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  • My only thoughts are that I’d be terrified of someone digging through my trash bin, for reasons best left unsaid on the company blog 🙂