National Geographic : 1983 Apr
On Assignment LUuI YJIHUTVJ t$vLUIJt. UI L ALL IN ALL, not the most attractive of sub Ljects, the world of trash. But it seemed an appropriate assignment for senior writer Peter White, who admittedly hates to throw anything away. A favorite office story con cerns the cleaning staff that threw away a huge box marked "Trash," not realizing it was part of White's research materials. A painstaking collector of evidence to document his articles, he has more than 100 cartons stored in GEO GRAPHIC archives at last count. White sorted through other people's gar bage at the Tucson Sanitation Division (right) when he pitched in on the University of Arizo na's Garbage Project, which seeks to learn more about the life-styles of Americans by delving into what we throw away. Viennese by birth, and a refugee from Nazi held Austria, White began his journalism ca reer 40 years ago as a copy boy for the now defunct International News Service. He be came one of the New York Times Magazine's most frequent contributors, before joining the GEOGRAPHIC staff in 1956. Since that time he has covered war in Southeast Asia, bathed in a gold bathtub for a story on that precious metal, and most recently reported on Angkor, war ravaged Kampuchea, and the world of the tropical rain forest. Treading the muck of a Manila garbage dump in the Philippine Islands, contract pho tographer Louie Psihoyos (left) fell into a pot hole, soiled his clothes, and ruined his shoes. "I went all over town looking for a pair of size 13s, and there weren't any," he says. "Finally I had to have a pair made." During his nine months on the "urban-ore" assignment, Psihoyos also traveled to France, the Netherlands, Thailand, India, Egypt, and across the U. S. "There is beauty and utility as well as energy in garbage," he says. Born in Dubuque, Iowa, Psihoyos became intrigued by photography in high school and sold his interest in an ice-cream company to buy more cameras. He later studied photo journalism at the University of Missouri and interned at the GEOGRAPHIC in 1980. His first assignment, the coalfields of Gillette, Wyo ming, was published in the special Energy is sue of February 1981.