Gay Hawkins explores the ethical significance of waste in everyday life_from the broadest conceptions of waste and loss to how the environmental movement has affected the ways we think about garbage. Do we feel virtuous for reusing plastic bags and disdain those who don't? At what point does personal waste become public responsibility? How does this 'public conscience' affect policy? Placing these ideas into historical, social, and cultural perspective, this thoughtful book seeks ways to change ecologically destructive practices without recourse to guilt, moralism, or despair.