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Text and Research by
Allen Hershkowitz, Ph.D.

Production Supervision
Catherine Aman

Michele Wolf, Lis Harris

Roland Ottewell

Electronic assembly
Calvin Walsh
Photo editor
Debra Cohen

Cover photos
cans: Burke Uzzle/ZUMA
ferns: Scott McKiernan/ZUMA
newspapers: Burke Uzzle/ZUMA

Copyright 1997 by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.

Full report is printed with vegetable-based inks on 100 percent recycled paper with 20 percent post-consumer content.


As with all of our work, the support of the over 350,000 NRDC members was invaluable to completion of this project.

Special thanks to John Adams, Catherine Aman, Frances Beinecke, Jennifer Burns, Debra Cohen, Anjanette DeCarlo, Michael Finnegan, Michael Gerrard, Bob Ginsburg, Lis Harris, Brian Johnson, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Ried Lifset, Linda Lopez, Tim Martin, Katie McGinty, Fran McPoland, Chaz Miller, Roland Ottewell, Barbara Pyle, Jonathan Rose, Richard Schrader, Phillip Shabecoff, Michael Terrell, and Michele Wolf. Thanks to Rick Cohlan for his patience.

Thanks as well to Peter Anderson, Mary Cesear, Herschel Cutler, Eric Deutch, Eric Goldstein, Ralf Hagbloom, Mark Izeman, Jonathan Kimmelman, Tapio Korpeinen, Supro Mukhajera, Anthony Lomangino, Angela Lynch, Jim McNutt, Alan Metrick, Alan Milton, Jack Miniclier, Bruce Pulver, Phil Sears, and John Wissmann.

The author dedicates his efforts in preparing this text to Neil Seldman and Barry Commoner. For inspiration: love and thanks go to Meg, Dylan, Lea, and Connor.

"Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America: a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources...[T]here's no reason to make recycling a legal or moral imperative."

John Tierney, "Recycling Is Garbage," New York Times Magazine
June 30, 1996

"[T]he need to rethink our throwaway mentality has become obvious...I have come to believe that the waste crisis -- like the environmental crisis as a whole -- serves as a kind of mirror in which we are able to see ourselves more clearly if we are willing to question more deeply who we are and who we want to be, both as individuals and as a civilization. Indeed, in some ways the waste crisis serves as perhaps the best vehicle for asking some hard questions about ourselves...If we have come to see the things we use as disposable, have we similarly transformed the way we think about our fellow human beings?"

Al Gore, Earth in the Balance, 1992

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