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ISSN: 0016 741X
04 | September 2013
A colossal waste
Over the weekend, I was chatting to another dad at my daughters’ birthday party when the conversation turned to party bags. As usual, I launched into my mouth-frothing diatribe about a particular pet-hate of mine – a small thing, a yo-yo. Not just any yo-yo mind, but a yo-yo sold by Tesco as a treat to put into party bags, a yo-yo so poorly designed that it’s completely unable to function as a yo-yo – it goes down, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t make it come back up.
Now why, you may ask, do I get so worked up about this little piece of plastic tat? Because I see it as emblematic of our throwaway society and all of the ills that come with it. This absurd trinket has been manufactured from various raw materials, transported halfway across the globe (I’ve never checked, but I’m sure it’s pretty safe to assume that it was made in China) and then distributed around the UK, and its only discernable function is to be ‘ iller’ in a party bag, destined to become either clutter or land ill.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no eco-puritan. I recycle what I can; I compost; I take bags when I go shopping; I’ve even been known to switch to a diﬀerent product when faced with what I consider to be excessive packaging, but I’m far from perfect. And despite my best eﬀorts, the amount of rubbish my family sends to land ill each fortnight is quite disturbing.
Which makes the idea that we could soon be incinerating our rubbish and using the energy generated to power our homes quite appealing (page 38). But like several of those that Mark Rowe interviewed for his Dossier on waste, I fear that such an option could stymie attempts to reduce the amount of waste that we produce, and hence the amount of resources that we consume, which would be a real shame.
C O N T R I B U T O R S
Irish geographer Fearghal O’Nuallain writes about his 220-kilometre walk across Rwanda on page 65. ‘Rwanda is a fulcrum, where the montane forests of West Africa give way to the dry savannah of the east,’ says Fearghal. ‘Travelling at walking pace allowed me to watch this profound change in physical geography. As I walked through Akagera National Park at dawn on my final day, I could literally see the world changing beneath my feet’
Chongqing in southern China is the world’s biggest municipality, with more than 30 million inhabitants (page 16). Spanish photographer Markel Redondo spent a month documenting the metropolis a er studying for a photojournalism MA in Beijing. ‘You could see whole neighbourhoods demolished and new ones built within weeks.’ But, despite, falling for its friendly citizens, Markel says he couldn’t live there himself. ‘I like visiting, but it’s just too big for me’
British photographer James Giﬀord, writes about attempts to explain recent declines in Botswana’s wildlife on page 30. He moved there in 2006, a er becoming hooked on Africa during his first safari, aged seven. He’s o en asked which wildlife he most likes to photograph, but says the answer really depends on what the animal is doing. ‘Watching little bee-eaters hunting for insects is much more rewarding than watching a sleeping lion’
On the cover: A leopard rests in a tree in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. The region has seen serious declines in its wildlife populations in recent years. Photograph by James Gifford
September 2013 | UK£4.50
MAGAZINE OF THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY (WITH I BG)
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