Disposable America

Project lead: Dr. Katherine Grier

Participants: undergraduate and graduate students

Disposable America (http://www.disposableamerica.org) uses digital artifact biographies to explore the history of disposability and the complex relationship of Americans to their trash. The product of a graduate writing seminar in 2014, Disposable America continues to grow as both graduate and undergraduate students contribute to its content through coursework.

Disposable America tackles such topics as American waste practices, the international waste trade, and the terminology of waste. It also provides specific case studies on disposable objects, such as disposable cameras, coloring books, paper cups, and paper collars. Items that enable disposing processes are also explored, such as trash compactors. Additionally, the website features a Museum of Disposability, which features items ranging from single-use chopsticks to pedicure flip-flops.


Single-use hypodermic needles and syringes, various makers, 2010-2013. Stainless steel, polyethylene, flexible plastic and paper packaging. The syringe and container on the left are for large-animal veterinary use. The needles and syringe on the right are part of an emergency medical kit for international travelers.