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I thought you would be interested in this article from environment: YALE magazine, the Journal of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
By Christina Larson
Although not a fact advertised prominently in Hawaiian tourist brochures, the island of Oahu has a trash problem. The scenic island, renowned for its lush and varied ecosystems and such popular destinations as Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbor, is home to approximately one million Honolulu residents and some five million visitors each year. Yet it has only one large landfill and one waste management plant. Both are now at capacity. Local officials are exploring the possibility of exporting Hawaii’s trash, bound in plastic and loaded on barges, at great expense, to Washington state.
Perhaps, though, rubbish problem is not quite right. To Marian Chertow, Ph.D. ’00, associate professor of industrial environmental management at F&ES, one man’s trash is another man’s raw material. She is fond of asking, “Why waste waste?” While most visitors to Oahu first trek to the beach or hike up a volcano on research expeditions, Chertow typically bypasses such picturesque locales and heads straight for a nondescript industrial park, where she believes something “magical” is happening.
Industrial ecology, an emerging field of study, may sound like an oxymoron, but it views urban landscapes much like scientists view natural ecosystems. “It is a funny use of two words,” Chertow explains. “We usually think of industry as opposed to ecology.” But she’s quick to explain the poetry of the phrase. In her work she traces the flow of materials, water and energy through a manmade system, much the way a biologist or zoologist traces the life…
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