9 million tons of trash annually.

ur trash, and send 63.5 percent

every year—to landfills.

s of waste per person is

every day . . .

DERF

★ “[An] entertaining ode to the odiferous realities of getting by.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review

BY T H E B E S T S E L L I N G AU T H O R O F M Y F R I E N D D A H M E R

BACKDERF

“The American dream is to turn goods into trash as fast as possible.”
—Russell Baker, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Growing Up

n of us in the U.S. alone!

PR AISE FOR

m a 2013 report issued by the U.S.

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BACKDERF’S
MY FRIEND DAHMER

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National—and International—Bestseller
Named BEST OF 2012 by
Time, The Village Voice, The A.V. Club,
comiXology, Boing Boing, Publishers Weekly,
MTV Geek, and more!

AN ODE TO THE
CRAP JOB OF

BY DERF BACKDERF

ALL CRAP JOBS

2013 ALA/YALSA Alex Award Winner

2014 Prix Revelation Award Winner at the
Angoulême International Comics Festival
2015 YALSA Award Winner for excellence
in Narrative Nonfiction

BOOK INTRODUCTION

TRASHED BY DERF BACKDERF
Every week we pile our garbage on the curb and it disappears—like magic!
The reality is anything but, of course. Trashed follows the raucous escapades
of three 20-something friends as they clean the streets of pile after pile of
stinking garbage, while battling annoying small-town bureaucrats, bizarre
townfolk, sweltering summer heat, and frigid winter storms. Trashed is fiction,
but it is inspired by Derf’s own experiences as a garbageman. Interspersed are
nonfiction pages that detail what our garbage is and where it goes. The answers
will stun you and your students. Hop on the garbage truck named Betty and
ride along with Derf on a journey into the vast, secret world of garbage.
U.S. $24 .95
Can . $29
.95 U.K.
ISBN 978
£15. 99
-1-4197-1453
-5

Trashed was selected as one of the Top Ten 2016 Graphic Novels for Teens
by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA).

Author

DERF BACKDERF

Derf Backderf is the bestselling author of My Friend Dahmer and the
recipient of the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for
political cartooning. His weekly comic strip, The City, appeared in more than
one hundred newspapers over the past twenty-two years. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

Ages 14 and up

CURRICULAR RATIONALE
Although Trashed is a work of fiction, Backderf pulls from real-life experience and factual
evidence to add to the impact of the story. Primarily told as a narrative, Trashed also
includes data from Columbia University’s Biannual Report on Municipal Waste and the
EPA’s Biannual Report on Solid Municipal Waste. The narrative follows protagonist JB’s
time as a sanitation worker through the four seasons and also looks at the struggle of
identity after high school. Within the nonfiction elements of the text, Backderf exposes
troubling facts about the state of waste in the United States.

USING THE GUIDE/STANDARDS ALIGNMENT
This guide is structured for use during and after reading the text. For use while reading the text,
discussion questions and writing prompts can be used as formative assessments throughout.
After reading the text, the extension activities build upon the nonfiction aspect of Trashed and
help students dig deeper into the topics introduced within the material. This guide is aligned
to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The correlating standards can be found
after each question, prompt, and activity. For CCSS, the grade span is 9–10 and 11–12 though
Trashed is primarily applicable to 10th through 12th grade and college-level courses. Details
on the guidelines for particular standards can be found on page 4 of this guide.

•1•

Trashed copyright © 2015 John Backderf.
Published by Abrams ComicArts
Teaching Guide wirtten by Kellee Moye
http://www.unleashingreaders.com @kelleemoye © 2015

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS / WRITING PROMPTS
• What role do JB’s friends, specifically Mike and Magee, play in his story? How do each of the other secondary characters also play a role in
JB’s evolution in Trashed? How does each of them affect JB? (RL.9-10.3)
• Do you think the ending of Trashed is a conclusion to JB’s story? What do you think his future looks like? (RL.9-10.5, RL.11-12.3)
• Using the clues given in the book, what do you think JB was like in high school? Provide evidence from the text to support your
conclusion. (RL.9-10.1, RL.11-12.1, RL.9-10.3)
• What are the overarching themes of Trashed? How does Backderf develop the themes in the text? Pull fiction and nonfiction evidence
from the text to support your answers. (RL.9-10.2)
• Trashed’s structure is unique in its mix of fiction and fact. Why do you think the author chose to mix the two instead of working within
only one genre? What effect does Backderf’s decision to shape the text as a fictional narrative instead of one based on his own personal
experience have on the work as a whole? (RL.9-10.5, RI.9-10.3, RI.11-12.5)
• JB’s tone within the text could be described as negative—portrayed as annoyed, bitter, or hopeless. Some examples can be found on pages
10–11, 37, and 202. How would you describe JB’s tone? What words are specifically used in the text to set the tone? Why do you think the
author chose to portray JB’s character in this way? (RL.9-10.4)
• What statement does Backderf convey by including factual evidence about municipal waste? How is his claim developed over time? How
is rhetoric used in the text to advance his point of view? (RI.9-10.5, RI.11-12.5, RI.9-10.6, RI.11-12.6)
• After reviewing the information Backderf includes from the Columbia University and EPA reports, can you determine how he chose the
order in which he revealed information? What effect does the order of information have on the overall impact of the message? (RI.11-12.7)
• Was there any factual information revealed in Trashed that surprised you? Why did it surprise you? What impact has the text had on your
actions or how you will think about waste in the future? (W.9-12.9)

•2•

EXTENSION ACTIVITIES
These activities build upon each other. Each activity works as a stand-alone exercise, but if done consecutively, you will need to draw on
information accessed within the discussion questions and writing prompts on page 2 of this guide.
(RI.9-12.6, RI.9-12.5, W.9-12.2, W.9-12.8, W.9-12.9)
• Separate students into groups of two or more. Assign each group to read either the Columbia University report or the EPA report. As a
group, they will present the information they found within the report and address the following:
- How did Backderf transform the information within the report to write Trashed?
- What type of information did he choose to include and omit? Why?
- Is there any information omitted that you think should have been included in Trashed?
- What was the difference between reading the municipal report as a text versus the visual format of a graphic novel?
- Compare your reactions to reading these facts within the graphic novel versus the text-based municipal reports.
• After reading Trashed and the two Municipal Waste reports, show students An Inconvenient Truth (or another documentary about the
environment or waste processing). After viewing, instruct students to write a response addressing the following:
- What similar information do all four media share?
- What details are shared in An Inconvenient Truth that are not shared in the other forms of media? Which details are not shared?
- Determine why each creator might have deliberately included or omitted these differing pieces of information. What impact do
those omissions have on the overall piece?
- What similar themes can be found among the four media? What themes differ?
• Using information from all four forms of media, instruct students to write up an action plan for themselves, their home, and their school
in response to the environmental issues addressed. To determine the best course of action, students can follow the last four steps of the
six-step creative problem-solving process.
- List as many feasible solutions for the issues addressed as possible.
- Determine criteria on how to choose the best solutions for your action plan.
- Using the criteria determined, rank the proposed solutions.
- Using the highest ranked solutions, write a detailed action plan outlining solutions to environmental issues in all aspects of daily life.

•3•

RESOURCES
• http://www.americanchemistry.com/Policy/Energy/Energy-Recovery/2014-Update-of-Potential-for-Energy-Recovery-fromMunicipal-Solid-Waste-and-Non-Recycled-Plastics.pdf
2014 Energy and Economic Value of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), including Non-Recycled Plastics (NRP),
Currently Landfilled in the Fifty States
• http://www.epa.gov/wastes/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/2013_advncng_smm_rpt.pdf
Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures 2013 Report

COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS
Below are the English Language Arts Common Core State
Standards and Next Generation Science Standards that
can be met by extending Trashed with these questions,
prompts, and activities.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL/RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and
thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text
says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL/RI.11-12.1 Cite strong and
thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the
text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the
text, including determining where the text leaves matters
uncertain.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL/9-10.2 Determine a theme or
central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by
specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL/9-10.3 Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of
a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL/11-12.3 Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or
drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL/9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and
connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense
of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL/11-12.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and
connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or
language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful. (Include Shakespeare as well as other authors).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL/9-10.5 Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel
plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL/9-10.3 Analyze how the author unfolds an analysis or series of ideas or events, including the order in which the
points are made, how they are introduced and developed, and the connections that are drawn between them.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL/9-10.5 Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences,
paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL/11-12.5 Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or
argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL/9-10.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to
advance that point of view or purpose.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective,
analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness, or beauty of the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL/11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g.,
visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W/9-12.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information
clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W/9-12.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches
effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to
maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W/9-12.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.