Garbage yardage

FOR more than two months a garbage scow, with a crew equipped with gas masks, has towed 3,100 tons of garbage around the Western Hemisphere hoping to find a country needing this sort of product. There seems to be very little demand for garbage these days. The cargo has been refused by Long Island, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Belize, and the Bahamas - even though a lot of these places might have absorbed the garbage and no one would have known the difference.

Prejudice is not dead, apparently, as to what ruins a neighborhood. Anyway, according to reports, 27 states claim to have all but run out of space to put garbage in. This certainly applies to New Jersey.

In the old days garbage wasn't such a problem. Take auto tires, for instance. When they were worn out, they were put out on the front lawn and flowers planted in them or else tied to a tree for a swing. Maybe similar inventive things could be done today with other garbage, like plastic bottles, grapefruit rinds, and chicken bones.

It is deplorable, but America seems presently to have an excess in qualities of personal indulgence over other countries. The US generates more garbage per person, more academic ignorance, more teen-age pregnancy, and shoddy workmanship. Perhaps these characteristics are related.

Japan is a country only about the size of California with 121 million people. Yet its garbage problem is under control. This is because the Japanese create only half as much garbage per person, recycle more of it, and turn the rest into energy. It is also possible they ship some to the US. It may or may not be true that Toyotas are made out of recycled Pepsi-Cola cans.

Americans, being pragmatic Democrats, often zig when they should be zagging. Probably they shouldn't have tacked that statement onto the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty: ``Give me ... the wretched refuse of your teeming shore ...''

Everyone suddenly has enough refuse. What we all need now is reclamation.

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