National Geographic : 1991 May
On Assignment Trash is an eloquent, if unappealing, symbol of our throwaway society for Uni versity of Arizona anthropologist WILLIAM L. RATHJE, here accom panying a bargeload of municipal garbage to the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island. A Maya specialist, Bill got involved with the artifacts of our own culture by accident. "In 1973 I asked students to pick an aspect of modern behavior and look for patterning in the artifacts related to it," he recalls. "One woman stud ied the relationship between how neatly people dress and the way they put ketchup on hamburgers. But several students got the idea to analyze garbage, and it struck me as a fun experiment." Creating the Garbage Project, Rathje continued to study "fresh" garbage with students and col leagues, then four years ago turned to landfills. "We're using an uncon ventional approach to make people aware of what they're wasting." A different kind of search con sumes staff photographer JAMES L. STANFIELD (below, at left), whose work habits-punishing, 18-hour days-and extraordinary skills have earned him legendary status during a 24-year GEOGRAPHIC career. "The search for a memorable photograph means stretching each day to the limit," says Jim, who has twice been named Magazine Photographer of the Year. "I'm not satisfied unless I come back absolutely exhausted." That was no problem in remote Bhutan, where Jim set out to photo graph the nation's highest peaks, led by guide Wangdi Adap, at right, and a porter named Dole. The trio took a week to climb to 16,000 feet for a clear view of the Jhomolhari Range, behind them and on page 101, which includes some of Bhu tan's grandest peaks. Jim calls this trek "one of the most strenuous ex periences of my life"--a remark that astonishes anyone who's ever tried to keep up with Jim in the field. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC (ISSN 0027-9358) IS PUBLISHEDMONTHLY BYTHENATIONALGEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY,17THANDM STS. N.W ., WASHINGTON, D. C. 20036. $21.00 A YEAR, $2.65 A COPY. SECOND-CLASSPOSTAGEPAID AT WASHINGTON,D. C., ANDELSEWHERE.POSTMASTER:SEND ADDRESSCHANGESTO NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC,P.O. BOX2174, WASHINGTON,D. C. 20013.