Elizabeth Royte biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Elizabeth Royte
Photo by Tony Israel

Elizabeth Royte

Elizabeth Royte Biography

Elizabeth Royte has written for The New York Times magazine, Harpers, National Geographic, The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, Outside, Smithsonian, and other national magazines. Her work is included in The Best American Science Writing 2004 (Ecco/HarperCollins), the environmental omnibus Naked (FourWallsEightWindows), and Outside magazine's Why Moths Hate Thomas Edison (W.W. Norton & Company). A former Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow, Royte is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review, a contributing editor for OnEarth, and a correspondent for Outside magazine. She is the author of The Tapir's Morning Bath: Solving the Mysteries of the Tropical Rain Forest, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 2001; Garbage Land, and Bottlemania. Elizabeth Royte lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their daughter.

Elizabeth Royte's website

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Interview

Should you use paper or plastic bags at the supermarket, throw that used tissue in the trash or flush it? Is recycling worth it? Elizabeth Royte answers all these questions and more in a short Q&A about her book Garbage Land.

Why write about garbage?
I’ve always wondered whether it was better, environmentally speaking, to throw a used tissue in the toilet or in the trash. And like a lot of people, I wondered where things went, and what became of them, after I threw them 'away.' So I started keeping track of my trash, quantifying it—to learn exactly what I was rejecting. Then I began traveling with my trash. As I learned how far my garbage footprint spread, I tried my utmost to leave a smaller human stain. The tissue, by the way, should go in the toilet. But don’t flush till you must!

What was the most surprising thing you learned while researching the book?
That municipal solid waste – the stuff that comes from you and me, plus the stuff that comes from institutions and businesses – makes up only two percent of the total U.S. waste stream. The remainder, some 12 billion tons a year, is mostly nonhazardous industrial waste, plus mining, agricultural, and hazardous waste.

What were some of the most difficult roadblocks to researching Garbage Land?
It was hard getting just about anyone to answer my phone calls, let alone show me around their landfill. The waste world is insular, and it ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Elizabeth Royte at BookBrowse
Bottlemania jacket Garbage Land jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Elizabeth Royte but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Andrew D. Blechman

    Andrew D. Blechman

    Andrew D. Blechman has been a reporter for the Los Angeles Times and the Des Moines Register. His work has also appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, The New York Times, and The International Herald Tribune, among others. His ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Garbage Land

    Try:
    Pigeons
    by Andrew D. Blechman

  • Rose George

    Rose George

    Rose George began writing in 1994, as an intern at The Nation magazine in New York. Later, she became senior editor and writer at COLORS magazine, the bilingual “global magazine about local cultures” published in 80... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Garbage Land

    Try:
    The Big Necessity
    by Rose George

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