Magazine article Science News


Magazine article Science News


Article excerpt

Trashy implications

"Backyard burning is recipe for dioxin" (SN: 1/29/00, p. 70) is highly deceptive in implying that avid recyclers are responsible for more dioxin in backyard burning. True, the article does say that's per pound of trash burned. But how many fewer pounds of trash per person per year do these people burn? In reality, many people who are avid recyclers are probably also careful about what they buy in the first place. I don't burn any trash, but if I did, my total garbage, minus all the recycling, for a family of three probably averages less than 20 pounds per week. Neighbors all around me are putting out two full garbage cans every week. Who would produce the most dioxin?

Mark Bremer Benicia, Calif.

Why, oh why did you use the term "recyclers" to describe people who burn trash? They are keeping the plastic from appearing in the landscape, but they are certainly not recycling. Recyclers collect discarded materials and deliver them to be made into other, useful products. Now, we who do recycle are going to have to answer to the skeptics who will wave this article at us and say, "Look! SCIENCE NEWS says that recyclers are poisoning the air!"

Judy Donaldson Capitola, Calif.

As an avid recycler, I know that what I have left for the trash is almost entirely plastics, so yes, pound for pound our trash is more toxic than nonrecyclers' trash. But house per house it isn't because we have a lot fewer pounds. That aside, it is still alarming how much damage a few people can do. …

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