When Mayor Michael Bloomberg backed off his tentative trash incineration plans earlier this year, opting to bury instead of to burn, environmental activists across the city hailed it as “the biggest victory in environmental justice in the history of New York City.”
But was it? Keith Kloor, an editor at Audubon magazine, couldn’t stop wondering where New York City’s 13,000 daily tons of trash was actually ending up. He decided to find out, and there was only one way: Follow the garbage.
In the November issue of City Limits, Kloor follows his daily refuse down the “garbage interstate” from Brooklyn to its final resting place in Pennsylvania. Taking a former mafia chauffeur as his guide, literally getting inside both a landfill and an incinerator, he dissects the science, politics and propaganda behind New York’s perennial garbage wars: How the mob’s ouster doubled the city’s garbage budget, how much people really get paid to live next door to our garbage, what incinerators actually save, and what really goes into—and comes out of—a landfill. Along the way, he sees how garbage follows the path of least resistance: them that’s got shall get, and those with the least political power get the most. Filled with toxic truths, Kloor’s garbage odyssey challenges New York’s understanding of what environmental justice really means.
Also in the November issue, available on newsstands now: A new law doubles the number of teens in a little-known court. But can a judge scare wild and wayward teenagers out of being kids?… If we had a billion dollars: What Pataki’s health care giveaway really robbed us of, and whether it’s too late to get it back… Brief Relief: How New York’s nonprofits are coping with the windfall from September 11th attacks… And more.