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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 03:54 PM
Original message
Garbage Land
Americans generate more than four pounds of trash per person, each day -- more than twice the per capita rate of Oslo, Norway. We have gifted the world with Styrofoam, non-returnable soda bottles, and innumerable forms of redundant packaging, all of which now litters every corner of our planet and is found washed up on even the most remote beaches. And now here's Royte to tell us that even the most conscientiously managed landfills leak and leach and pollute.

The author lives in New York City, which for decades sent about 13,000 tons of trash a day to the largest landfill in the world, Fresh Kills on Staten Island. Intrepid to a fault, she refuses to be kept out of Fresh Kills -- closed to regular use since 2001 -- and ends up paddling around it in a boat. (Garbage Land is not for the squeamish, and you may not want to read it over dinner. Royte is very good at evoking the sights, sounds, and especially smells of the landfills and waste-processing plants she visits all over the New York metropolitan area, in rural Pennsylvania, and as far afield as San Francisco.)

Talking to an endless series of experts who seem glad that someone cares about what they do, she learns that the retaining walls in place at Fresh Kills can allow the daily release of one million gallons of toxic stew (a mixture of such chemicals as cyanide, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and mercury) into New York Harbor.


Ever feel a warm glow about hauling your old desktop down to electronics recycling day at the local high school? Did you imagine highly trained workers carefully disassembling your old components under surgical conditions? Think again. Imagine instead a Chinese village, where men, women, and children wearing no protective gear extract copper yokes from our exported monitors with chisels and hammers. "Squatting on the ground, they liberated chips and tossed them into plastic buckets while acrid black smoke rose from burning piles of wire," reads a report cited by Royte. After using a mix of hydrochloric and nitric acid to coax small amounts of gold out of the components, they "dumped the computer carcasses and the black sludge in nearby fields and streams." Many other recyclables are similarly shipped overseas, where their handling is unrestrained by environmental regulations.
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brystheguy Donating Member (179 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 04:03 PM
Response to Original message
1. Thanks.
Just put a hold on it at my library. Looks to be a fascinating read.
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 04:06 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. All I had left was that warm glow. And now it's gone.
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newswolf56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 04:21 PM
Response to Original message
3. The most infuriating aspect...
of the American (that is, Big Business) approach to garbage is that we the people are required to pay out of our own pockets to dispose of the trash with which our corporate masters deluge us. Once again, the oligarchy gets a free ride -- on our very own ever-more-burdened backs.

(Which of course is why nothing will ever be done about the U.S. garbage problem: garbage is truly Big Business in action, and nothing -- NOTHING -- will ever again in U.S. history be done to reign in the obscene profiteering of the infinitely greedy plutocrats who make up the Big Business Establishment.) (A fair garbage policy would discourage the production of garbage by fining the corporations accordingly. But since the plutocrats are in total control, the corporations produce garbage at will and require the very people on whom it is dumped to pay for its disposal. Thus the ever-worsening American worker's struggle for economic survival is deftly perverted into anti-environmentalism {thereby -- unless the trend is somehow reversed -- guaranteeing the ultimate death of the entire planetary ecosystem}.)
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dcfirefighter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 05:09 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Geez guy
don't buy garbage. More likely, consider the packaging aspects of anything you buy. Fining them won't do anything buy raise prices. Not buying garbage will force them to change, or go out of business.
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newswolf56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 07:07 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. You miss the point. Capitalism is running amok. Its practices...
will change only when government intervention forces them to change: the antique notion of marketplace pressures that stop or even minimize the victimization of the people is simply absurd. Look for example at oil prices, prescription drug prices and the cost of health care, not to mention outsourced jobs, declining salaries, canceled pensions and the malicious abolition of the socioeconomic safety net -- all deliberately intended to concentrate wealth in the hands of the oligarchy. Wake up; Marx is again as relevant as he was 150 years ago, perhaps even more so: the slave-state that monopoly capitalism is creating today is exactly what Marx predicted, complete with all its savage viciousness.

Packaging, by the way, is only a small part of the garbage problem: cans and bottles are at least presumably recyclable (though in many locales there are still no facilities to recycle them). The worst offender is junk mail, much of which cannot be recycled because of the (often toxic) substances used to apply the slick coating to paper that is essential for "snappy" illustrations: hence the common rule that while newspapers are recyclable, "slick" magazines and catalogues are not. (This is why I no longer subscribe to ANY magazines; the two I receive are house-organs of associations to which I belong.) Because such paper cannot be recycled, we literally have to pay to get rid of it.

Only when government is courageous enough to respond accordingly -- which means not only imposing fines (and other disincentives) but mandating the kinds of paper upon which advertisements can be printed and eliminating the corporate-welfare postal rates by which junk mail and other such garbage is literally subsidized -- will the cost of garbage-coping be lifted off the people's back and placed solidly on the corporate oligarchs who have inflicted this tsunami of garbage on America and the World and who therefore should be made to bear the entire burden of cleaning up the eco-cidal ruin they are making of our planet in their quest for ever-greater profits.
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thegreatwildebeest Donating Member (224 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-05 12:13 AM
Response to Reply #5
8. Agreed...
Everyday people choose to live in a society that is wasteful, and it continues to be so mostly off the willingness of the consumers on the bottom. The most ironic thing of all about how things are is how much, using both a carrot and a stick, the powers that be make most of society run like a perpetual motion machine. As I mentioned in another post, composting is a simple, lo tech solution to reducing up to 11% of the waste you generate. That's 186 something pounds a year. That's significant, and it also helps out your soil and helps out in growing gardens (which in turn supplants agrifood and the like, and replaces processed foods and the natural gas needed to keep them pumped up on steroids). If you have a curb side recycling program, found out exactly what can and can't be thrown away, and consistently check plastics and the like to see if they can be recycled.

I'm not a believer in "natural" capitalism (we weren't born with dollars in our fists), but I certainly don't see government and corporations as anything but two sides of the same coin. Also, I am tired of so called "Enivronmentalists" who don't walk the walk as they say by still consuming ridiculous amounts. While I'll agree alot of things in this world are dictated to you, and you get put between a rcok and a hard place, throwing your hands up and calling it a day is being more of an apologist than even the most reactionary individual. Nothings more chilling than someone who realizes the problems of the world but keeps shouting over other people telling them that ITS ALL OVER. Sorry, I've got better things to do with my time than dream up some secular Left Behind.
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skids Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-28-05 04:31 PM
Response to Original message
4. At least have the common decency... play with your trash before you discard it.

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OneBlueSky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-29-05 01:39 AM
Response to Original message
7. see this book for a responsible approach to waste . . .
The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustanability
by Paul Hawken
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Poor Richard Lex Donating Member (256 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-30-05 07:03 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Ecology of Commerce is a fascinating book
a must read for anyone concerned about the environment.
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