I bought a wastepaper basket and carried it home in a paper bag. And when I got home, I put the paper bag in the wastepaper basket.

Lily Tomlin

The packaging for a . . . microwave dinner is programmed for . . . a cook time of two minutes and a landfill dead-time of centuries.

David Wann

No matter how you look at it, scooping garbage into an oven and setting it afire is an equally primitive alternative to digging a hole in the ground and burying it. The former contaminates air; the latter, groundwater.

Sandra Steingraber

Thank God, men cannot as yet fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth!

Henry David Thoreau

“Wait.” Clary was suddenly nervous. “The melted metal — it could be, like, toxic sludge or something.”

Maia snorted. “I’m from New Jersey. I was born in toxic sludge.”

Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes

Garbage follows a strict class topography. It concentrates on the margins, and it tumbles downhill to settle in places of least resistance, among the poor and the disenfranchised. . . . Across the nation and around the world, trash is dumped, metaphorically, upon trash.

Elizabeth Royte

“I’m not just a college professor. I’m the head of a department. I don’t see myself fleeing an airborne toxic event. That’s for people who live in mobile homes out in the scrubby parts of the county, where the fish hatcheries are.”

Don DeLillo, White Noise

We’ve always had rich and poor. But money is increasingly something that enables the rich, and even the merely prosperous, to live a life apart from the poor. And the rich and semi-rich . . . increasingly seem to feel that they deserve such a life, that they are in some sense superior to those with less. An especially precious type of equality — equality not of money but in the way we treat each other and live our lives — seems to be disappearing.

Mickey Kaus

Simplicity in its essence demands neither a vow of poverty nor a life of rural homesteading. As an ethic of self-conscious material moderation, it can be practiced in cities and suburbs, townhouses and condominiums. It requires neither a log cabin nor a hair shirt but a deliberate ordering of priorities so as to distinguish between the necessary and superfluous, useful and wasteful, beautiful and vulgar.

David E. Shi

Loyd: “It has to do with keeping things in balance. . . . It’s like the spirits have made a deal with us. . . . The spirits have been good enough to let us live here and use the utilities, and we’re saying: . . . We appreciate the rain, we appreciate the sun, we appreciate the deer we took. . . . You’ve gone to a lot of trouble, and we’ll try to be good guests.”

Codi: “Like a note you’d send somebody after you stayed in their house?”

Loyd: “Exactly like that. ‘Thanks for letting me sleep on your couch. I took some beer out of the refrigerator, and I broke a coffee cup. Sorry, I hope it wasn’t your favorite one.’ ”

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

We, all of us in the First World, have participated in something of a binge, a half century of unbelievable prosperity and ease. We may have had some intuition that it was a binge and the earth couldn’t support it, but aside from the easy things (biodegradable detergent, slightly smaller cars) we didn’t do much. We didn’t turn our lives around to prevent it. Our sadness is almost an aesthetic response — appropriate because we have marred a great, mad, profligate work of art, taken a hammer to the most perfectly proportioned of sculptures.

Bill McKibben

I’ve been married to one Marxist and one fascist, and neither one would take the garbage out.

Lee Grant

The world’s largest oil rig exploded and sank off Brazil. The company said the environmental impact would be minimal, partly because of the isolated location, and partly because they’re lying through their teeth.

Jon Stewart

In America today you can murder land for private profit. . . . You can leave the corpse for all to see, and nobody calls the cops.

Paul Brooks

Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic. But will they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the surest way to destruction.

Thomas Jefferson

Throw a few chairmen of the board in jail for polluting the air and water, and you’ll see pollution disappear quite rapidly. . . . You would also probably see some pretty drastic prison reforms.

Fortney H. “Pete” Stark