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Collection Occupational Folklife Project

Trash Talk: Workers in Vermont's Waste Management Industry

In 2018, Virginia Nickerson, an independent scholar and documentarian in Montpelier, Vermont, received an Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center to interview workers for "Trash Talk: Workers in Vermont's Waste Management Industry." Her project documents the occupational stories and experiences of more than two dozen people engaged in different sectors of the waste management chain, including trash collection, sorting, marketing, processing, administration, and regulation. The project provides a picture of the daily lives of workers in an economically and environmentally important, but often hidden, industry during a time of significant technological change. Notable interviews include those with an electronic parts recycler, workers involved in ecological educational programs, and a private trash hauling company that uses horse-drawn vehicles. Trash workers discuss their daily routines, the challenges and rewards of their jobs, and their interactions and relationships with their neighbors and communities in small-town and rural Vermont.

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