Does Waste Matter?

Out of this weeks readings, I was most intrigued by “Waste Matters: The State of Michigan’s Trash.” Often, garbage disposal services are cast in a negative light. I grew up just down the street from a very large garbage dump facility and in the summers it would sometimes start to smell. I remember one winter I was at a friends house and I looked out her back window and just barely through the naked trees I could see what looked like a tiny toy truck driving up over the heap. My uncle also used to be a waste management employee when I was very young. Even so close to the situation, I’ve never been fully informed on the process, the company (Waste Management), or the logistics of waste disposal.

This article was great in its ability to capture the voices of the people in the story. I especially liked the lede with the quotes from Terry Nichols about the beautiful scenery of the trees. I thought that was a great way to get the reader interested in a piece about trash. It also foreshadowed the discussion on Waste Management’s commitment to Wildlife Habitat sites which I found to be inspiring and unexpected of the waste industry.

One thing I wasn’t so sure I loved about the piece was the use of visuals and their captions. I felt that they were not strategically placed and they often distracted me away from the real message. However, in such a long piece, it is nice to have those breaks. I feel that they could have been more relevant to the article – specifically the one toward the bottom about batteries – and perhaps less distracting in their unnecessary pictures. With that said, I did really enjoy the mid-piece break for “The Anatomy of a Landfill.” That was helpful and served as a much needed break.

Do you think this piece was too generous toward the waste disposal service companies or was it justified and something that industry needed? There was the bit about a lawsuit that was settled in Macomb Township, but it mostly focused on how WM compensated for it. What are your thoughts on the structure of the piece as well? Did you feel that it was organized well or what would you have done instead?


About Sarah C

Hi there! My name is Sarah and I am a medical student at Michigan State College of Osteopathic Medicine (MSUCOM) pursing a career as a physician. I am also a Style Consultant with Premier Designs so I stay very busy. I graduated in 2015 from the University of Michigan with my B.S. in Cellular and Molecular Biology with a Minor in Writing.

8 Responses to “Does Waste Matter?”

  1. I also really enjoyed the piece Waste Matters: The State of Michigan’s Trash. I thought the writing was very good and the use of visuals like the chart you attached, were very successful in getting the information known. The structure was good, starting with the fact that there is a problem, telling the history of Michigan’s landfills, how its changed, and then to what we could do differently. Ending with the statistics on how much waste we produce was a very powerful way to end, leaving you in awe. Kurlyandchik created a well rounded piece, with multiple points of view, and didn’t shame American’s for their habits, but set out to inform us about what the problem is, which is a nice change from a lot of articles where they make our garbage habits out to be ending the world very dramatically. The part where he spoke of how in the future these might be areas for miners was also a very interesting point of view, drawing this local and present conversation into a future where our garbage could be of use to someone.

  2. I like this both article and what you post for this article. Throughout this article, the editor use image, data, and fact illustrate the impact from waste. As we knows, there are a brunch of articles that express the bad impact from waste. However, most of them could not drag people’s eyes. I think this is because those editors use too dramatic way for writing a advocating journal. People will find this tone that they will lost their interests for continuing read them. From this article, the editor use a life story line , which seems as a simple chatting with readers. Then, the use of practical data of trash that american people daily made and amount of papers that used in US. The use of graph of trees to compare with the amount of paper, which seems very interesting. Also, the editor make some future expectation toward the use of trash and garbage. All in all, this article use simple expression and life examples and facts, which earn this article more attraction.

  3. I really liked reading this article particularly for its organizational structure, pictures, and little statistics with their visuals stuck throughout the piece. Sometimes when reading large blocks of text, it can be hard to follow along the flow of thought and get a sense of the big picture, but the titles make it easy to understand what the author is trying to say. I also like the interesting tidbits of statistics with their visuals along the side of the text as they helps to enhance and guide the thought process of readers as they’re reading the main text. The picture of the anatomy of the landfill was my favorite visual because it helped to easily explain something that could’ve required a lot of text to describe. For someone who doesn’t know much about landfills, it was helpful for me to see how that particular landfill works. Though this article contains lots of information, the paragraph titles, visuals, and statistics help to make it easier for audiences to digest the content.

  4. I thought this piece was interesting as an overview, but lacked certain clarity in the message it wanted to convey. I seemed to get lost in the onslaught of facts, figures, and numbers. The overall message I get is that garbage rates are increasing due to importation, and recycling rates are lagging behind other states. In terms of how the story was organized I was a bit confused by the subtitles that broke up the article, I thought the lede was a bit lengthy, while it was nice to set the scene in a specific landfill the rest of the article moved away from that one landfill, into more general areas.
    Despite these small problems, I thought the article was most successful as a general knowledge teaching tool. While the graphics were’t completely pertinent, they did breath some life and aesthetics to a not-too-sexy topic.
    Questions that the article did not address throughly was toxic or “volatile” products that come from landfills and have the possibility to affect the watershed.

  5. While I really enjoyed this piece, I definitely agree that the placement of facts and graphics was really distracting from the overall message. While the article detailed a lot of the waste industry and its inner mechanisms, these facts were often somewhat impertinent pieces of information. They were often statistics about waste but they rarely correlated with what the piece was talking about.

    In addition to this article I also really enjoyed the New York Times video about waste in New York. I thought their segment on the background of waste and waste removal and the movement towards doing compost pick ups in the city was fascinating. I thought it paired well with the article on Waste being imported to Michigan. I knew that some garbage was taken elsewhere to be disposed but I was not familiar with the varying rates that States charged for waste and how much was exported/imported.

  6. Hi!
    I really liked the Waste Matters article for a number of reasons. First, I love pictures and I think they really help to explain things that people can often think are too complex or processes that they may not have understood from the text. Like you, I also remember the waste disposal workers picking up trash in my neighborhood and I frequently enjoyed watching them and the crane that lifts the cans whenever they got to my house. I think the statistics were extremely relevant to the bigger picture and I think that made it easy for others to understand and relate to something like this—an issue that I think is a bit taboo in a social community. The fact that Americans generated over 250 million tons of trash in 2010 says a lot about our consumption and waste as a society. That number is too large and saddening when we think about how many countries go without basic needs. Furthermore, I liked the structure of the article. The piece was easy to understand and the writers voice was informative and compassionate—something I think needs to be a necessity when dealing with waste.

  7. The inclusion of diagrams within the article really help highlight important things to take away from the article amidst all the text. I think what really made me feel something about the topic was the use of statistics in this piece; the stats presented are almost too overwhelming. It almost makes the reader want to take action, or at least spread word of the prominence of the issue.

    The diagram that stuck out to me to the most was the one illustrating what happens if you recycle rather than dispose everything in the garbage. It just makes recycling look so much more eco-friendly than just dumping everything in the land. The article really is written in heavy favor of recycling, but I do believe that the majority of the readers would agree that recycling is a good thing to do for our planet.

  8. This article’s beginning photograph was most striking to me and made me more compelled to read the article. The illustrations/graphics within the article helped give a breather to the information, but the images themselves were weak and did not add to the article in the same way that the beginning picture did. Anatomy of a Landfill illustration was probably the most effective, but even then it was somewhat unclear. Mark Kurlyandchik’s introduction had a strong impression on me that made me care about what was happening to the waste management around the 100 acres of nature and forest animals. The nut graph gave shocking statistics that helped put the trash overflow into perspective. What I found alarming was that Canada’s trash was flowing into Michigan.

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