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The dirt on waste

We talk of trashing our planet – taking more from nature than it is able to renew, speeding headlong towards climate chaos. But much less attention gets focused on the fact that we’re often doing this to create things that will themselves, in very short order, be trash.

The Waste edition of New Internationalist looks at how our vision of prosperity is built upon the transient and throwaway and argues for a system change to save a planet choking on its junk. Every year we produce plastic – much of which will be discarded after mere minutes of use – equivalent to the weight of every living person on Earth. In wealthy countries, industry spews out 42 kilos of waste per person every single day to keep the wheels of the economy turning. The amount of rubbish we’re creating keeps growing year on year.

The discourse around waste has got focused on recycling and what individuals can do to be less wasteful. Important as those things are, they go nowhere near far enough – it’s like picking up the pieces at the foot of the cliff rather than stopping the vandals at the top. Discover what else we need to be doing to tackle the deluge of trash.



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Included in this issue

Protestors attend a protest against what they say is anti-people policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, in New Delhi.

In Modi's India, dissent is dangerous

In Modi’s India, dissent is dangerous, writes Nilanjana Bhowmick.

the packaging industry is not taking responsibility waste is not just an issue for the individual

It’s all down to you

Dinyar Godrej explains why the packaging industry loves shunting the blame on individual consumers

Spending time away from Marabá, Dan Baron Cohen discovers unexpected solidarity with the Amazon in a country mired in violence and despair.

Letter from Marabá: touched by the future

Dan Baron Cohen discovers unexpected solidarity with the Amazon in a country mired in violence and despair.

The Chinese waste ban is giving the global recycling industry an enormous headache. ... Beijing has last year banned the imports of 24 varieties of solid waste, including types of plastic and unsorted paper.

No more of your junk

Adam Liebman explains why we need a less rosy notion of what actually happens to our recycling.

Lebanon’s trash  #StopTheBurning campaign last week after it was revealed that staff at the landfills had been instructed to burn the vast amounts of garbage leftover by the 2015 crisis.

Fighting the big burn: Lebanon's waste dilemma

The mismanagement of Lebanon’s trash has brought citizens onto the streets – and the latest plans are also stoking outrage. But...

Cairo’s garbage problems are often solved by the Zabaleen community

Pick of the heap: Cairo's wasteland

Attempts to solve Cairo’s garbage problems come up against a community whose livelihoods depend on refuse. Hisham Allam reports...

Bahraini activist Ali Mushaima has described upcoming elections in Bahrain as a ‘big joke’. Photo: Penelope Barritt/Alamy

Bahrain: a sham vote

As election season approaches in Bahrain, Phil Miller explains why there won't be any radical changes on the cards.

Director of Peterloo, Mike Leigh

Mike Leigh on class war and political hope

Ahead of his upcoming film, Peterloo, Mike Leigh speaks to Sam Thompson about cinema, history and politics.

Jeff Bezos must be stopped, writes Mark Engler. Nobody is calling to task Amazon's dirty work. About 165 billion packages are shipped in the US each year.

The Amazon effect: sweat, surveillance and exploitation

Jeff Bezos must be stopped, writes Mark Engler.

Who is Imran Khan?

For our rising new world leader segment, Richard Swift profiles the Oxford-educated former playboy cricketer, and now, Prime...

Editor’s letter: deep disconnect

Co-editor Dinyar Godrej pens an opening letter for the latest magazine: 'The dirt on waste'

Modern life is rubbish

Dinyar Godrej argues that consumption patterns in a wasteful society add up to much more than the sum of individual actions.

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