Pop Culture Shards From the Trash Heap of History

Memorable garbage from Woodsy to Wall-E.





Oscar the Grouch debuts on Sesame Street.

40 years later, kids still sing “I Love Trash!”


Woodsy Owl implores kids to “Give a Hoot. Don’t Pollute.”

In 1997, Woodsy changes his tune: “Lend a Hand. Care for the Land.”


Plastic bags first appear in grocery stores.

Everybody now: “Paper or plastic?”


Garbage Pail Kids trading cards parody ubiquitous Cabbage Patch Kids dolls.

Up Chuck and Ray Decay make GPK “the gross-out phenomenon of the ’80s.”


American Beauty features two-and-a-half-minute shot of floating plastic bag.

Film theorists still debating whether it’s a metaphor for a society hurtling toward ecological destruction—or just a bag.


Wilson the volleyball becomes Tom Hanks’ best friend in Cast Away.

In a realistic touch, Wilson eventually washes out to sea to become turtle food.


Wall-E cleans up the world by himself, one garbage cube at a time.

Spawned timeless products such as Wall-E flip-flops.


As part of a $1.2 million office remodel, Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain expenses a $1,045 trash can.

Shamed into paying for the can, Thain says it was “a mistake in light of the world we live in today.”


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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