Publisher’s Note: Waste Deep

RIM's publisher, John Palumbo, introduces the March issue.

There is no such thing as “away.” When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.
–Annie Leonard, Greenpeace

Let’s face it, most of us have a perfunctory understanding of where “stuff we throw out” ends up. If you’re like me, you recycle, placing those things in one color bin and trash in the other. Then on the appointed day, we wheel each container to the curb and, like magic, it’s gone.

For a few summers when I was in high school, I was fortunate enough to land a job with the town public works department. There were probably two dozen in my cadre of summer conscripts. We were assigned to crews: grass cutting, ditches/open space cleanup and roadwork. There was always the inevitable trash day rotation when we hung onto the back of a truck that was speeding through its route to the finish line. Back then, everything and anything went in: trash, yard waste and recycling (what’s that?). Your goal was both to stay on and get off, grabbing as quickly as possible and hoping the majority of it went into the truck and not on you. Back then, I never thought much about the ramifications of the several loads we’d take to the town landfill each day.

Well, associate editor Casey Nilsson has pulled together a complete travel itinerary of where the stuff we part ways with ends up in “Talking Trash.” She takes a look at how well some cities and towns are doing with their “landfill diversion efforts” and those that have room for improvement.

And for those of you who have a hankering not to part with stuff curbside each week, there is a beginner’s guide to composting, trash-inspired art and suggestions for donating gently used clothing to help others in need. Oh, and there’s a clever online quiz for those of you who think you are recycling aficionados, courtesy of Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, “Ready, Set, Sort!” Casey also describes how an environmental group is assisting Mother Nature in her perpetual rebirth efforts by making sure empty oyster shells are deposited where they can assist in the regeneration
of coastal reefs.

Remember, this month, we also celebrate a rebirth of sorts with the first day of spring, a welcome benchmark for many of us as we look forward
to warmer days and a gradual return to normalcy.

To the Rhode ahead. –J.J.P.