Archive for landfills

Death by Stacks of Magazines

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 3, 2009 by srhazen

I’m getting married this summer at the end of July. Over the past two months since my engagement, I have been inundated with countless magazines, emails, phone calls and postcards from companies starving for business in the current economy.

Everyone wants my business. When one corporation, small business or person found out I had said “yes,” the flood of information began.

As my roommates and I sat picking our way through massive piles of bridal magazines one weekend, my heart sank. Here I was, a reporter and blogger for an online environmental publication, and the waste and senseless excess I rant against weekly lay in my lap in the form of a 300-page magazine.

I just looked through that stack of magazines again. I counted about 10,000 sheets of glossy pieces of paper total. Up until the last few years, the glossy paper of magazines could not be recycled and ended up in landfills across the country. That has changed, but the habits of Americans have not. According to the Magazine Publishers of America only 20 percent of magazines are recycled today. The rest end up in the trash.

But most magazines can be recycled to make tissue paper and other paper products like cardboard or even other magazines.

As our country moves into a new age of environmental awareness, will the excess waste of magazines and other large publications go to the wayside? Will Americans begin to recycle their Time and Sports Illustrated magazines and stop dumping them into landfills?

Each year, every person in the US uses about 650 pounds of paper. That is just the start to the immense amount of waste we produce to rot on our planet. Magazines can be recycled. The message needs to be put out there. At the University of Arizona alone, 3 tons of waterborne waste can be conserved in a year by recycling goods.

Without giving up on our guilty (or not-so-guilty) pleasure of reading magazines, the problem of magazine waste can still be solved. I can read all about the “ten things every bride should have in her wedding,” without the constant nagging feeling that I am causing terror in the environment for the next generations.

Most magazines offer their publications in an online format, which eliminates paper waste with the same stories and photographs. There are even alternative companies that offer full magazine subscriptions in an online reader format.

If you love print advertising or having a magazine in your grasp, rather than reading online, then recycle it when you’re finished, or pass it along to other people to enjoy.

In my house, we have a list of things that can be recycled that hangs by the recycling bin. Magazines are at the very top of the list. One less stack of bridal magazines sinking to the bottom of the ocean or a landfill would probably do a world of good.




Choking on Trash

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 9, 2009 by srhazen

I listened to the Super Bowl during a long road trip home from the Bay Area in California last weekend. Not the greatest way for an Arizona girl to take in the game, but it had to suffice. Sports talk radio stations tend to fill their down-time with public service announcements or local ads. For most of them, we would turn down the volume down and not listen.

But about halfway through the game, an ad came on during a time-out, and a woman started talking about the Great Pacific Trash Vortex near Hawaii. Even though I am a journalism student studying environmental issues, I almost switched stations. I wanted to hear the game, not a PSA for changing the world one piece of trash at a time!

Yet, I listened on to the commercial. It made me stop and think. The announcer said the pile of trash, located near Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean, has been measured to be the size of Texas. And as I realized that I had heard everything really is bigger in Texas, I panicked. Trash pollutes miles and miles of ocean, and I rarely bother to make sure I reduced my waste on a day-to-day basis.

As soon as I came home, I looked up what some call “The Great Pacific Trash Vortex” and others refer to as “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” Whatever you choose to call it, the piles of trash floating on top of that area of the Pacific Ocean stagnates and should disgust anyone. It kills animals and pollutes that section of nature in ways that people centuries ago couldn’t have imagined.

Most, if not all of us, know about the landfills across the United States. They contain years and years of society’s trash buildup. But, trash signifies society. Where there’s trash, there will be people or there were people at one point. It’s inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be aware of our actions.

Despite knowing about landfills, the amount of waste we dump into the ocean appalls even the toughest of hearts. Aside from the damage to wildlife, aesthetically speaking, the trash heap takes away from the breathtaking beauty we should see when out on the open waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Plastics, diapers, and random debris float along for years in this space where they become trapped in slow-moving waters.

What will happen when I visit the Bay Area again and the trash has reached the Pacific coast that I love?

After researching this problem more and more, I realized that this story broke a few years ago. Where have we been? I can never recall hearing about this before Sunday night. This story needs more than just feature story-like coverage.

And the bigger question than just, “Where have we been?” is, “What actions are we going to take?”

Just telling people to recycle or be aware of their waste contributions just isn’t cutting it. We know that.

Let’s not make the oceans become piles of rotting waste. Nature deserves better than that. Killing it shouldn’t be part of the typical human lifestyle.

Where do we go from here?