Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash by Elizabeth Royte, Little Brown and Co., 320 pgs., 2005. Our soda man delivers. He comes bounding up the steps, easily cradling an ancient-looking wooden crate under one arm. The contents are 24 seven-ounce bottles of cola and birch beer, for which we hand him $7, and last month's crate. The thick, wavy glass bottles bear an old-fashioned logo that reads, "Castle Soda: Food for Thirst." Bottled in a declining industrial town in Connecticut, Castle is like some visitor from another time. The idea of returnable, refillable bottles seems quaint and archaic …
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Jim Motavalli is editor of E: The Environmental Magazine, a regular contributor to the New York Times, and author of Green Living: The E Magazine Handbook for Living Lightly on the Earth.