Monday, November 09, 2009

Recycling; not the final solution.

I care deeply about the environment. Every light bulb in my house is a compact fluorescent. I turn off lights and other appliances when not in use. I avoid buying foods in plastic containers. I think before I buy. I drive a hybrid car. I try to buy local foods whenever possible and available. I try to live a sustainable life but have far to go. I've been recycling everything I possibly can for the past 20+ years; I try to do my part.
This past summer while on a photographic journey to the Smoky Mountains I decided to take a detour through a town that I had never visited before, Sylva North Carolina. As I approached the mountain town I was greeted by the unmistakable smell of a paper mill. I was both saddened and disappointed as a thick pillar of smoke filled the otherwise pristine mountain sky. At first I was angered thinking I was approaching another paper mill exploiting the Western North Carolina Forest like the paper mill located in Canton ( ). However the mill I was about to photograph was the Jackson Paper Company ( ) a paper recycling facility. Located along a tributary of the Tuckaseegee River I found that the Jackson Paper is a recycle paper mill, turning used paper and cardboard into new paper products. While I'm sure operations like this reduce the amount of trees used in the production of their products they are certainly not without their environmental impact. This encounter with the realities of recycling has imprinted on me the need to follow the "Three R's" (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) more effectively placing priority on them with emphasis on Reduce and Reuse.