Add speakerRemove speakerSpeaker added

Edward Humes

Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Garbology

  • About Edward Humes

    Edward Humes is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and narrative nonfiction writer who spends months embedded in the lives of his subjects in order to investigate and research his incredible stories about the justice system, science, nature, and sustainability. His seventeen books include Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of TransportationMississippi MudNo Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of Juvenile Court, and Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash.

    In Garbology, the prequel to Total Garbage, Humes focused on what we throw away – and how we are so much more “trashy” than we imagined. Humes’s message of reducing and reinventing our approach to what we roll to the curb each week resonated strongly with student and sustainability-minded audiences, who selected Garbology as a “One Book” community read over 30 times, including at colleges such as Georgia Institute of Technology, California State University Northridge, Rowan University, University of Central Florida, and such cities as Portland, OR, Pittsburgh, PA, Palos Verdes, California, and Atlanta, GA.

    Now, Humes returns with Total Garbage to tackle the wider world of waste: in which our fossil fuel power plants squander two-thirds of our energy, our gasoline-powered cars waste 80 percent of our fuel, and 40 percent of our food—and all the energy, water, chemicals and fertilizer used to produce it—goes to waste. From Georgia to Minnesota, Maine to California, Humes found the game-changers and ordinary people tackling this waste and the environmental catastrophes it drives—all while saving (and even making) money doing it.

    Humes is also a popular true crime writer. His bestseller, Mississippi Mud, a murder mystery set in a historic Gulf Coast city steeped in corruption, is currently being developed as a series by Immersive Pictures. Burned: A Story of Murder and the Crime That Wasn’t, is a gripping investigative narrative into a young mother’s sentencing for killing her three children in a house fire, and the flawed, so-called “forensic fire science” behind it. Humes’s investigative work in Burned helped lead to her release and took readers inside the world of the California Innocence Project that challenged the conviction. His latest in the genre, The Forever Witness, is about the disappearance and murder of a young couple, a 32-year-old cold-case investigation, and the emergence of a revolutionary new crime-fighting science, genetic genealogy. It’s also being developed as a documentary streaming series.

    Humes received his Pulitzer Prize for his newspaper coverage of the military, and a PEN Award for Nonfiction for No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of Juvenile Court. He has taught writing, journalism, and literary nonfiction at graduate and undergraduate levels, and has written for The New York TimesThe Los Angeles TimesSierra Magazine, and Los Angeles Magazine. A graduate of Hampshire College, he lives in Southern California with his family, two rescued greyhounds, and a rescue collie.

    Contact us to learn more about bringing Edward Humes to your next event. 

  • Speaking Topics

    Total Garbage: How We Can Fix Our Waste and Heal Our World

    In this entertaining, eye-opening, and solutions-based talk, Ed Humes exposes how waste is our biggest problem and how solving our inherent trashiness can fix our economy, our energy costs, our national security, and even our traffic jams—all while helping slow climate change and making us healthier, happier, and more prosperous. From tackling inefficient and costly systems head-on to getting microplastics out of our drinking water, Humes's effective and remarkably simple strategies are drawn from real-world examples happening now. They will inspire everyone, from individuals and local organizations to large corporations and government institutions—to start reducing and eliminating waste at all levels of society.

    Garbology 101: A Sustainability Workshop

    In this highly engaging and interactive workshop, Ed Humes leads participants through a series of fun exercises to learn easy and effective ways to reduce our daily trashiness, which has now reached 8.2 pounds of trash a day for the average American. That’s three times what we threw away in the 1960s! Designed for students, employees, executives, or organizations, this customizable session helps audiences think strategically about revamping wasteful practices—both large and small—to cut costs, improve productivity and health, build community, and positively impact the planet in the process.

    No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of Juvenile Court

    After spending a year immersed in the Juvenile Court system as both an observer and a writing teacher for LA's most dangerous young offenders, Ed Humes takes a gut-wrenching look at today's Dickensian juvenile court system: a world filled with frustrated judges, burnt-out lawyers, terrified parents, the troubled teens themselves, and unsung heroes who managed to do the impossible almost every day of the week.

  • Video

  • Praise for Edward Humes


    Ed Humes was absolutely delightful. Everyone who met and talked with him found him charming and engaging and so easy to talk to.

    Madisonville Community College

    My students and I were thrilled to hear Edward Humes speak at our recent Freshman Convocation ceremony. His examples for being more conscientious consumers were both arresting and relevant to the students’ daily lives. His concern for our planet is both genuine and infectious, and the students came away inspired to examine their own trash-producing behaviors. As a teacher, I am grateful that Ed’s presence lent a personal touch to our classroom explorations of Garbology.  I believe his effect on my students will be long-lasting; they learned that we must not only be better stewards of our precious resources, but we must also spread the word, just as he is doing.

    Debbi Mercado, Lecturer, English and Academic First Year Experiences, California State University, Northridge

    Who would have thought that such a corporate giant like Wal-Mart, as insensitive and ruthless as it can be, could transform itself into a force of green? Thank you! We’d love to see Ed at the Club again!

    Commonwealth Club, San Francisco

    We’ll be talking about Ed’s visit and his lecture for a long time. He is as amazing in person as his books suggest.

    Ohio State University

    We are so grateful for Ed’s generosity of spirit! Thanks again, most sincerely, for providing exactly what we hoped for–a truly stimulating and terrific keynote address!

    Washington State University

    A great night! Ed packed the house and was obviously a big hit here. We hope he’ll come back with his next book!

    Dole Institute of Politics, University of Kansas

    Praise for Total Garbage

    Did you know that two thirds of all energy produced is wasted, or that a third of all food ends up in landfill? Staggering wastefulness is the root problem of our biggest global crises, Edward Humes argues. By reframing issues like climate change, plastic pollution and energy as waste problems, he finds a slew of hopeful solutions. Total Garbage will make you rethink how you live, shop, cook, eat and travel. It’s a keeper. And now I am shopping for a heat pump and an induction stove!

    Susan Freinkel, author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story

    Humes is back to make you want to read about waste again. Total Garbage is like a constellation of stories about people who shine brightly on their own, and yet together illuminate a path forward on one of the most pressing issues of our time, making waste obsolete.

    Dr. Jenna Jambeck, MacArthur genius grantee and coauthor of Plastics

    This timely, highly recommended book makes a strong case for taking practical steps to reduce nonrenewable consumption and waste.

    Library Journal, starred review

    Praise for The Forever Witness

    Humes’ writing is suspenseful yet also journalistic, providing fascinating details about the case, technological advances in police work, and genetic genealogy. A winner for any fan of true crime.

    Booklist (starred review)

    Stellar true crime account… Humes matches taut prose with assured storytelling. This fascinating look at how technology has revolutionized crime solving is must reading.

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    A well-paced true-crime procedural that offers new twists on old methods of police work.


    Fans of Michelle McNamara’s acclaimed I’ll Be Gone in the Dark should clear their schedules, because Edward Humes’ riveting account is nearly impossible to put down…The Forever Witness has earned a well-deserved place among top-notch true crime.

    Bookpage (starred review)

    An excellent addition to any true crime collection, this one is sure to intrigue readers who are interested in delving deeper into the hows and whys of solving cold cases.

    Library Journal

    Some detectives never give up, and in this expert retelling, you’ll follow Jim Scharf as he attempts to crack the coldest of cases: A golden young couple abducted and murdered in Washington state in 1987, with almost no clues left behind. This book is that rare thing, terrifying true crime told with a beating heart.

    Maureen Callahan, New York Times bestselling author of American Predator

    Praise for Burned

    A searing look at the limits of forensics in this unsettling reexamination of the case of Jo Ann Parks… An instant true-crime classic that reads like a thriller, this joins the ranks of recent works also throwing into question the belief that crime scene investigators can infallibly arrive at the right answer.

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    Riveting… Humes’ fascinating account is perfect for the many readers interested in crime-scene investigation.


    Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Humes… once again exposes a flawed American criminal justice system, this time with a new twist.

    Kirkus Reviews

    Read this book now. Not only because Burned is one of the most important critiques of forensic ‘science’ ever written but because it will shock, move and enlighten you. Explosive but sobering, Burned plows through decades of received myth and junk science to reveal the sometimes tragic mistakes in our criminal justice system. Humes, as always, is humane and provocative. Reporting like this is a big reason our republic is still mostly in one piece.

    T. Jefferson Parker, author of Swift Vengeance and The Room of White Fire
  • Books by Edward Humes

  • Media About Edward Humes

Request Fees
and Availability

  • 212 572-2013
  • Edward Humes travels from Seal Beach, CA

Similar Speakers

Jane Fonda

Award-winning actress, bestselling author of My Life So Far, and fitness expert

Bren Smith

Restorative ocean farmer, co-founder of GreenWave, and author of Eat Like a Fish

David Owen

The New Yorker staff writer and author of Green Metropolis and Volume Control