archaeology and trash

Posted by on Jun 13, 2008 in Dirt, Research and Engagement | No Comments

Recently, I have begun thinking hard about buying in bulk. This has been due to a blog I often visit, The Simple Dollar, which preaches what the author callsAnticipation Buying. He also has preached the benefits of buying bulk in previous articles,where he looks at the pros and cons of bulk buying. All in all, the benefits look pretty appealing. However, archaeology might have a different bend on the entire topic…

Enter archaeology into the debate. In 1973, a famous archaeological project was begun, financed by the Department of Agriculture (of which my grandma was a part of during that time!), which was to analyze consumption and waste in the United States. This project is known by every person who has ever taken an intro to archaeology course. William Rathje led the excavations, which have continued on from 1973 until 2005, and he has excavated over 20 landfills across the US. In this articleon archaeolog, a response to this article by the Wall Street Journal that says that we are about to enter a food shortage and people should start stockpiling, warns that this might not be the best approach. He states that responses to food crisis, according to the material record, have resulted primarily in wasted food.

Once again, archaeology proves to have important ramifications for things that are happening now. In the end, bulk buying is great for some items, such as household non perishables like soap and shampoo, but stocking up too much on some foods may be more of a waste then not.