“You are more likely to be killed in the line of duty working as a sanitation worker than you do as a police or fire officer,” says Professor Robin Nagle, who is Anthropologist-in-Residence at the NYC Department of Sanitation. She teaches “Garbage in Gotham: the Anthropology of Trash,” at NYU and has been known to wear clothes pulled from the trash to give talks.
She spent time working with the department of sanitation, learning how to drive a sanitation truck and discovered that trash is a valuable insight into modern culture. The sanitation workers can tell the demographics of city block by the trash the collect – who is an alcoholic, where the birth rate has gone up, whether the economy is doing well or badly; they can even tell whose marriage is in trouble.
Read an interview in Slate.com
Watch an interview with Prof. Nagle: