The Garbage Project

Dr. William Rathje’s mind was in the gutter.


He believed that much could be learned about our civilization by studying people’s garbage, so in 1973 he and some of his students at the University of Arizona started systematically digging through garbage cans, trash bins, and land fills.  They took the waste to a central location and sorted it according to 200 different categories.  Dr. Rathje was so passionate about this endeavor that he even started teaching a Garbology class.  Students who participated in his classes and research had to wear protective suits and get  tetanus shots.*

What did Dr. Rathje learn from his study of garbage?  Apparently, his big discovery was that Americans waste a lot of food.  He also established (from wrappers and other containers) that Americans eat a lot of fast food.

Um, I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but this seems a little bit like discovering that water is wet.  I can just imagine the congratulatory handshakes and back slaps that accompanied the discovery of information that everybody in the world already knew.  The next thing you know, we’ll have teams of researchers discovering that Disney tickets are expensive and Republicans and Democrats don’t see eye to eye.

I’ve always believed that the greatest (and most important) research project in the world is the one I conduct every waking moment with my eyes, ears, and brain.  With my head on a swivel, I look around and process what I see and hear through the filter of my education and understanding of how life works.  Can appearances be deceiving?  You bet.  Will some people lie to me and try to trick me?  Absolutely.  But over time, the truths and lies will sort themselves out.  Eventually, what I see and hear  is going to lead me in the direction of the truth.

Proverbs 20:12 says, “Ears to hear and eyes to see–both are gifts from the Lord.”

I’m not suggesting that you can learn everything you need to know simply by looking and listening.  But a lot of it you can.  Unfortunately, a lot of people who have perfectly functioning ears and eyes are deaf and blind.  This is why Jesus said, “Anyone with ears must listen…” (Rev. 3:2:7)

See every day as a continuation of your life-long research project.  You don’t need a million dollars and a hazmat suit to find the truth.

* The Garbage Project has been widely reported.  I gathered my info from a variety of sources.  If you’re interested in learning more, just Google it.


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