Penn State via Flickr CC /

For decades, environmentalists have fought to keep plastic, glass, paper and other recyclables out of landfills where they’d sit for thousands of years…so, is recycling truly making a difference in the health of the planet? Today, some data that challenges recycling’s sanctified status. Then, India’s government says it will clean up the horribly polluted Ganges, the river which supports ten percent of the world’s population. The first step: working with the Hindu belief that the Ganges is holy, self-purifying and the place to be buried. 

Paolo via flickr Creative Commons

From Tesla cars to Louis Vuitton luggage to Philippe Patek watches, luxury brands are selling well. How about a $30,000 cell phone? On today’s show, we’ll learn about the new handcrafted cell phone with optional concierge service that’s become a new symbol of conspicuous consumption.

Plus, Junkyard Planet: following the billion-dollar trash trade from American dumpsters to junkyards across the globe.

And, the opening sequence of a television show is an art form unto itself. We'll get a rundown of the best ones.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.


Chances are you came in contact with something made from recycled material today. A can of soda…the carpeting in your office building, or the smart phone that’s an arms length or less away. . They’re part of a swirling cycle of good made from old items and fed back into the production of new stuff. And the more we buy…the more we need to recycle. But where does all of that recycled material ultimately end up? Adam Minter is Shanghai correspondent for Bloomberg World View and a frequent contributor to The Atlantic and other publications. He’s followed the trail of trash and found that most of it ends up in China and India. He’s author of Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion Dollar Trash Trade.

Bo Eide, courtesy Flickr

E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: What is the “All One Ocean” campaign?          --Bill O’Neill, Los Angeles, CA

Zero-Waste Home

Apr 11, 2013

Many of us have good intentions when it comes to reducing household waste – but too often those canvas totes get left in the closet, food scraps avoid the compost pile, and product packaging fills the trash-bag.  One head of household has found the motivation and creativity needed to take home-waste reduction to a whole other level.  Bea  Johnson is the blogger behind Zero-Waste Home, and now author of a book by the same name. She and her family produce only one quart of garbage per year.

PetroleumJelliffe via Flickr Creative Commons

Thanks to thousands of sanitation officials working around the clock, millions of New York City residents walk the streets without being overwhelmed by the overpowering stench and volume of the tons of garbage produced by that city each day. Robin Nagle has been the anthropologist-in-residence at New York City’s Department of Transportation since 2006; combining traditional field work techniques with hand-on social science. She examines the often-ignored issues behind the city’s elaborate—and under appreciated—system of refuse collection. Robin's new book is called “Picking Up”.


Apr 23, 2012
(Photo by Stinkenroboter via Flickr Creative Commons)

You may have heard that Americans throw away more than any other nation, but any idea of just how much? Each of us is on track to toss 102 tons of garbage in our lifetime. More than 7 pounds a day, and twice what we chucked out in 1960. Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Humes believes we are living in a state of garbage denial. His new book is called Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash. In it, he looks at the science, politics, and economics of waste.