How much do you think about your trash? If you live in an urban community, your only thoughts about trash are probably when and where to take it out. If you live in the country, your thoughts about trash may linger with you until you drive the bag out to the county dump.  Either way, it's likely that in this "throwaway" society, you don't think much about the trash you produce once it leaves your can.

But just where does all of that trash go?  

Anthropologist Robin Nagle, New York University professor and the author of "Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City,"  had always been curious about NYC's hidden world of garbage and the people who work within it. According to Nagle, 11,000 tons of garbage are thrown out in NYC each day. So it's mind-boggling to consider where it all goes and who gets it there. As part of her research, Nagle even took the city's sanitation exam and worked as a sanitation worker to better understand the challenges, dangers and societal stigma felt by sanitation workers — workers that she describes as a city's "first guardians of public health."  

Check out this TEDx video in which Nagle describes her research and explains why she believes that sanitation workers are the most important labor force on the streets of the city.

You will never look at your garbage can the same way again.

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