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recycling paper more sustainable than sheet mulching?  RSS feed

 
Matthew Fallon
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am i way off. or is this arborist  high on something?

after watching someones garden vid of their sheet mulched beds i was lead by a commenter to a blog with a bunch of  uncorroborated statements
that using newsprint and cardboard for garening is somehow depleting the recycle stream and all sorts of nonsense.
qoute;
" sheet mulching increases energy use; increases sulfur dioxide emissions; requires more trees to be cut and processed; increases labor and wage expense; and wastes water, oil and energy

http://www.mdvaden.com/lasagna_gardening.shtml

i then realized,the commenter IS the blogger. further, he's spammed the same 'warnings' on dozens more  videos on sheetmulching i came across after.

weirdness.....
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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Well, in a sense you are taking a highly processed material, newspaper or cardboard that can be recycled into more cardboard or paper with a minimum of processing.  Otherwise new paper and cardboard will have to be sourced from forests.  Much can be sourced from less processed material.  I guess that's where the blogger may be coming from.
 
                              
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Location: Colorado, Zone 5, Cold Semi-arid
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I came across that article, too, a few weeks ago.

I was going to sheet mulch with cardboard, but then realized just how much cardboard I'd need for my projects.  I didn't want to collect so much, and now having a recycling operation nearby, decided I'd do something else.

I think that putting cardboard back into the manufacturing stream is a better use than carpeting the lawn with it.  In my climate, the stuff just doesn't break down quickly unless it's kept moist, and I'm not about to pay to water cardboard every few days.
 
maikeru sumi-e
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I can see his or her point, but I don't think it's the entire story. It would be best if we can keep recycled products flowing through the recycling chain as long and as many times as possible. But in the US, at least, most paper products probably don't. A lot of them continue to find their way into the landfills where they sit relatively undecomposed for a long, long time and gobble up space and create methane. Also, entire forests are logged and destroyed for perfect toilet paper. I feel worse for forests getting cleared to be pulped and processed for toilet paper than I do spreading a little cardboard from work, where I have too much of it. (IMO, we should be deriving our paper needs from certain kinds of renewable and sustainable fiber crops, but I won't mention them here...) I use a little cardboard in gardening/weeding where I think it's helpful, and prefer mostly and most prizedly--mulch of many kinds. But I don't always have enough mulch and compost on hand. Try to cut down use of unnecessary paper products (and maybe toilet paper), save water, and build soils. I don't think this is an either or proposition. If you don't use things like MiracleGro or spread poisons on your lawn, you're already doing a lot in the fight to make the world a better place, IMO.
 
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit
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Location: Germany/Cologne - Finland/Savonlinna
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I think it is a lame and pointless argument. When you sheet mulch your garden to grow food for you and your family you dramatically reduce the amount of oil needed to sustain yourself as long as you keep the garden going.

- You extract cardboard only once from the recycling stream.
- You decrease the need for shipped food measured in oil as long as you crop.

Think about it: Look at the original locations of different vegetables in your supermarket. The more diverse you shop in the supermarket the more oil sticks at your hands. Therefore: The more diverse you crop on your land the lower your oil consumption. If I had a shortage of space I wouldn't grow potatoes or wheat. Just the special stuff.
 
Chris Fitt
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Location: Eastern Shore VA
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I had the same thought about the recycling factor and can see both sides of it.  Although I agree that the percentage of people that sheet mulch and take out of the recycling stream are not really a big part of the problem.  One solution I came up with was to find a source (restaurant or liquor store) where they don't recycle their cardboard and use that.  When we did our sheet mulching we used paper feed sacks that normally go into the burn pit.
 
                              
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Location: Colorado, Zone 5, Cold Semi-arid
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I can see both sides, too.

If I didn't have a convenient recycling service nearby, or I find a stubborn spot, I would use cardboard (and newspaper, etc.), for sure.

As is usual, we have to do the best we can, based on our own thinking, beliefs, and capabilities.
 
T. Joy
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Recycling anything takes a huge amount of energy. It's reduce and reuse first, recycle is the last and least helpful option on the 3 R's totem pole.
 
Matthew Fallon
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see, that's how i see it Monkey' .
if you want to make a big difference in recycling,look at the elephant in the room... requiring more business to recycle their paper is the way to do it..they use 1,000 times more than any household.
around here companies do not even have to recycle paper. it's insanity.but i guess the logic is to be as burden-less a location as possible for busineses to stay in,expense-wise.

ive worked in places that dumped hundreds of pounds a day in paper products.... these were small-ish too,50-80 employees.  how many lasagna gardens can you make with 100lbs of paper weed barrier.
 
T. Joy
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At the post office in the small town we just moved from they had a garbage can in the room with the mailboxes (no home delivery there, town too small) and it was FILLED every single day. Garbage, not recycling. I am not going to feel that bad about some cardboard rescued from the grocery or liquor store that is used to start a garden, that's just silly.

Joy
 
Dave Miller
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I am sheet mulching my entire backyard (1/2 acre) so I have been collecting cardboard and newspaper for a while.  Suffice to say it is VERY easy to get.  For cardboard, just get on craigslist or freecycle and look for "moving boxes".  For newspaper, just tell everyone you know that you want newspaper and they will save it for you.

If I was to purchase cardboard or newspaper then I might agree that I'd be creating demand for forest products which isn't a great thing.  But given that there is such a huge surplus of those materials, pulling a little out of the recycling stream so that I can grow food and never have to mow again seems like a no-brainer.
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
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tribalwind wrote:
am i way off. or is this arborist  high on something?

after watching someones garden vid of their sheet mulched beds i was lead by a commenter to a blog with a bunch of  uncorroborated statements
that using newsprint and cardboard for garening is somehow depleting the recycle stream and all sorts of nonsense.
qoute;
" sheet mulching increases energy use; increases sulfur dioxide emissions; requires more trees to be cut and processed; increases labor and wage expense; and wastes water, oil and energy

http://www.mdvaden.com/lasagna_gardening.shtml

i then realized,the commenter IS the blogger. further, he's spammed the same 'warnings' on dozens more  videos on sheetmulching i came across after.

weirdness.....



Smack the arborist and tell him to stop. 

If that arborist was remotely right, we wouldn't be sending wood chips to China fairly non-stop from the Pacific Northwest. 

First off, we don't need to whack down trees for paper, hemp, and other materials work just fine if not better.  He's someone afraid of losing his job instead of taking time to see the big picture for 7 generations ahead like he or she should.

 
                                    
Posts: 147
Location: Anoka Sand Plain, MN Zone 4/5, Sunset Zone 43
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in a talk i listened to w/david holmgren he stated that there was a study done that showed it would be better environmentally to burn your waste paper in an energy efficient furnace than recycle it.  that seems right to me.  and wouldn't sheet mulching be even better than burning?

even if all that weren't the case though if you are sheet mulching in order to establish a food forest, for example, in the long run you are doing mad carbon sequestering and you can go ahead and give yourself some carbon credits imo.  don't let perfect be the enemy of the good.
 
maikeru sumi-e
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christhamrin wrote:
in a talk i listened to w/david holmgren he stated that there was a study done that showed it would be better environmentally to burn your waste paper in an energy efficient furnace than recycle it.  that seems right to me.  and wouldn't sheet mulching be even better than burning?

even if all that weren't the case though if you are sheet mulching in order to establish a food forest, for example, in the long run you are doing mad carbon sequestering and you can go ahead and give yourself some carbon credits imo.  don't let perfect be the enemy of the good.


Yes, definitely. When so much decomposable materials are clogging landfills and could be used instead for building soil, gardening, and making compost, you seriously have to wonder. Rather than burn, let's let lay, bury, and grow some nice veggies, flowers, and forests.
 
                                              
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I recently heard Paul speak on the survival podcast and he is definately AGAINST using newspaper or cardboard in the garden (or any horticulture project, as he stated). Paul, rhetorically, asked the listeners if they would "drink the soy based ink used on newspapers?" (it would kill you). So, why use it in the garden?

Furthermore, Paul was against the use of cardboard in the garden not only because of the industrial GLUE that is used to hold it together, but also the chemicals used in the basic manufacturing process.

I have been hauling home cardboard from work and saving newspaper for a year in anticipation of starting a so-called 'lasangna' garden this year. Hmmm, but now I seem to be SOL regarding a weed barrier.....

Anyone have thoughts on this? Any thoughts on an inexpensive alternative to cardboard/newspapers?


Thanks......
 
Leila Rich
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There's lead in the ground round my house from paint, lead in the air from the battery factory down the road,  'we'  just spent 60 million to clean up a local stream that was so contaminated with heavy metals that the silt is in a concrete bunker somewhere, and who knows what's everywhere from general pollution,...
Nah, soy-based ink and glue don't even register for me!
In the end, we must make our own decisions about what we're comfortable with in our individual situations.
 
T. Joy
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These guys are using cardboard to kill off weeds and grass but will pull it back up in a few months. It could be recycled or dried and burned then, no? And it's not decomping into the soil completely.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pl84M6DlYBA
 
Jan Sebastian Dunkelheit
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I understand the concerns using colored newspapers and high-gloss papers but normal newspaper with black colors only is okay for sheetmulching and composting. I wouldn't recommend composting blue colored paper because the blue colors contain copper. Not good. Every other color is okay (meaning: not that bad). In addition: Cardboard is often only lightly colored. The (possible) toxins contained are very low.

Nowadays printing ink is not dangerous anymore. Black ink mostly contains carbon. They also use hard- or liquid resin in cardboard and newspapers: hard resin is made of roots and bark of trees; liquid resin is made of soy- and linseed oil. They also of course use mineral oil in the production of ink but that's not a bad thing. It's biomatter.

Paper and cardboard that has the recycling logo on it must have easy to remove ink. It's safe.

Don't worry so much about nonsense! Seriously!
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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christhamrin wrote:
in a talk i listened to w/david holmgren he stated that there was a study done that showed it would be better environmentally to burn your waste paper in an energy efficient furnace than recycle it.  that seems right to me.  and wouldn't sheet mulching be even better than burning?

even if all that weren't the case though if you are sheet mulching in order to establish a food forest, for example, in the long run you are doing mad carbon sequestering and you can go ahead and give yourself some carbon credits imo.  don't let perfect be the enemy of the good.


I talked with a man that worked for a major coffee provider company, and he submitted to the company a study he did on the little aluminum canisters that hold gas for whip cream.  If they melted and recycled it would be a great boon for the company and environment. 

The company responded by saying currently there was no technology to safe enough to melt them down, and it would also drop the world wide value of aluminum.

Think about that, please don't try to recycle that because the value of the mined product would drop.  Oh darn.

My point is, these silly reports and such by or commissioned by major companies are usually made to keep the status quo, which many see isn't working so well lately. 
 
                                  
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backyardfarmer wrote:
I recently heard Paul speak on The Survival Podcast and he is definately AGAINST using newspaper or cardboard in the garden (or any horticulture project, as he stated). Paul, rhetorically, asked the listeners if they would "drink the soy based ink used on newspapers?" (it would kill you). So, why use it in the garden?

I have been hauling home cardboard from work and saving newspaper for a year in anticipation of starting a so-called 'lasangna' garden this year. Hmmm, but now I seem to be SOL regarding a weed barrier.....

Anyone have thoughts on this? Any thoughts on an inexpensive alternative to cardboard/newspapers?


Thanks......



I put lots of things in my soil/on my plants that I wouldn't drink. Fish emulsion comes to mind. Neem oil would be another thing.

Don't worry about it. Any sort of mulching material you would buy is probably processed as well and it would cost you money.

Loose mulch like wood chips and straw are great except that they can still let certain persistent weeds through. Cardboard and newspaper are wonderful in that they can very securely block some tenacious weeds.
 
Terri Matthews
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This is why it is important to see if polls are unbiased: a biased poll is worth nothing! I realize that this is not a poll, but the same principle applies because MAN is he bised!

This gent is assuming that cardboard that was not used in the garden would be recycled: I ask you, how likely is THAT?  The average citizen throws cardboard away, and not every person who DOES recycle is able to recycle cardboard: where I live recycling aluminum is common but not cardboard. You cannot send cardboard off to a plant if such a plant does not exist!

The article is biased. The writer does not like lasagna gardening and so he is stating that it is wrong and he is really straining to justify this statement!

 
John Polk
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I think this boils down to where you live.  If you live in an urban/suburban area, there are probably measures in place to collect cardboard/newspaper for recycling.  If you live rurally, what you cannot reuse or burn must be periodically loaded into the truck and driven to a dump.  So you are burning gasoline, and paying dump fees, both of which are having a negative impact on your sustainability.  Smaller towns that do collect these things for recycling, often have to truck them hundreds of miles to facilities that can process them.

Sustainability must be measured on a personal, communal, and global scale.
 
Terri Matthews
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Rusty Dog, I believe that you have hit the nail on the head. Where I live the cities are smaller, and for something big like a recycling plant one must drive down to Kansas City, Kansas. The cities here are around 50,000 people, and none of them have recycling plants.
 
travis laduke
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You guys should really be recycling your cardboard that stuff doesn't grow on trees ... oh
 
            
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Rather than doing something there's a chance could be detrimental to the health of your garden plot and by proxy your own (i.e., leaching of potentially toxic chemicals), why not choose from the plethora of natural mulches available for weed suppression? I'm not arguing for or against the "newspaper ink is toxic" bit; all I'm saying is I'm certain I won't be poisoning my food supply by sowing into the residue of whatever expired crop I've seen through from seed to fruition on the same plot. And certainty is a good thing when you're talking about your food.
 
Matthew Fallon
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it dont get much more urban than nassau long island,we border queens,then brooklyn then manhattan 45 minutes away...in our town we get tiny little blue recycle bins for newspaper..they dont even take cardboard or glossy paper,

2 years ago i had like 30 yards of woodchip dumped off at my house, i laid it 6-10" thick on some ivy and that SOB still grew through.grrr.  i wonder if cardboard would've fared better...
this year i'm upping the war effort and pullin it all out..its SOOO thick and deep and expansive though,in desperation i've turned to my rototiller. it pulls it right up and wraps tight around the 30" tines, then i simply saw it off for 10 minutes.most effective ivy remover i've found yet !!!.
i dont till my beds,theyre all raised square-foot. ,just used it initially to break new ground. im planning to expand, adding 4 or 5 more 4x25' beds. and a 2x30 for climbers.so ill probably till as im also adding many yards of horse manure and compost(15yards or so) and probably rock dust etc to the top foot or two. dont think i could double dig that much area.
 
Jack Shawburn
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I use some cardboard for mulching odd spots.
But beginning to have second thoughts especially
with cartons or boxes from China.
more news today on this here
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12663183
 
maikeru sumi-e
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fiveandahalffarm wrote:
Rather than doing something there's a chance could be detrimental to the health of your garden plot and by proxy your own (i.e., leaching of potentially toxic chemicals), why not choose from the plethora of natural mulches available for weed suppression? I'm not arguing for or against the "newspaper ink is toxic" bit; all I'm saying is I'm certain I won't be poisoning my food supply by sowing into the residue of whatever expired crop I've seen through from seed to fruition on the same plot. And certainty is a good thing when you're talking about your food.


I think most of us do favor natural mulches. The worst one that comes to mind is the "rubber" mulch sold in stores which is made from shredded tires and painted to look like natural mulch. Nauseating. I really like wood and bark mulches, as well as plant/crop residues, and as many branches and twigs as I can handle when I have them. We need to distinguish a little between the kinds of potential toxins, like organic or biodegradable ones or persistent toxic ones (heavy metals, dioxins, chlorine-/bromine-based chemicals, tars, asphalts, radioactive residues, arsenic, lead, etc.), and what we are putting in the ground.

No matter how hard we try, there will always be some exposure to some toxins in the environment or from food or work, with how the world is now and what is used in manufacturing, food, personal care products, etc. We can try to reduce our exposure, and that's for the best. But, honestly, it does not make me happy realizing even rain and snow carry down poisons from the sky, thanks to cars and coal-fired power plants, into my garden and my land and ultimately into me. I would also worry more about the suitability of a lot of other things people put on their gardens like steer manure (from a feedlot? maybe containing antiobiotics/dewormers?) or chicken litter (from chickens fed arsenic-containing roxarsone? heavy metals?).

As Dunkelheit mentioned, most inks now are soy-based and if you avoid laying down certain kinds of paper or board, you should be fine. Further processing by earthworms and microbes will render most organic toxins inert and harmless. Even with the small amount I use to smother weeds and claim new ground, I usually cut out inked areas and remove plastic, staples, or tape. Newspaper and other paper products I recycle. After that, I don't use cardboard and rely mostly on natural mulches and compost.
 
                                            
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I like the idea of using hemp for paper.

Maybe is it not best to use cardboard for gardening. But It is better to use it and garden.

There is good, there is better and there is best.

Best is to have a Garden, Best is to only use renewable sources.

better is to use Cardboard in your garden. Better than it being in a landfill. Better for you to eat your own food. Not best to have the stuff that comes from the glue in cardboard.

 
Mekka Pakanohida
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backyardfarmer wrote:
I recently heard Paul speak on The Survival Podcast and he is definately AGAINST using newspaper or cardboard in the garden (or any horticulture project, as he stated). Paul, rhetorically, asked the listeners if they would "drink the soy based ink used on newspapers?" (it would kill you). So, why use it in the garden?


Paul happens to be partly wrong I believe. 

First of all, You need to be allergic to soy in the first place for it to kill you in which case the handling of the paper would be enough to give someone discomfort at the very least.  IF they are using a petrol-based soy ink, which does happen since the oil is used to speed drying, that can be toxic.

However, most Soy Inks are made from 100% vegetable matter. 

I have worked with these inks most of my life as an artist, and prior to that inside of industrial printing companies on large presses that make newspapers.

 
                                      
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Hooey.  The anti-sheet mulch argument is one of many stupid arguments that ignore the environmental impact of shipping every freaking thing everywhere multiple times inits lifecycle.

1. Reduce
2. Reuse
3. Recycle

The recycling stream has loss and requires considerable energy input to move the material from my place to the recycling center and from there to a reprocessing center. Recycling centers typically throw out what is less than perfect for their process. Don't get me wrong I do recycle what I can't reuse or outright avoid buying. But I recognize that recycling is not the cure all some folks make it out to be.

When I mulch with cardboard I am both reusing recycling, and using only human power to do it. I'm also improving my soil forpermaculture which will capture more net carbon than shipping that cardboard all over the world to save some fraction of the original input of pulp.
 
Matthew Fallon
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regarding the glues in cardboard.. i asked this to my step-father. who currently works at a cardboard man. company. 
the glue used is actually just soem kinda starch.
"starch adhesive" is what he told me.
there are other chemicals used to stretch and stiffen the fibers and such,but the binders apparently are plain old starch. like those new packing peanut cheese-doodle things,theyre also starch,wet them and they jsut turn to ooze and biodegrade
.
 
Haru Yasumi
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Well it's not as if it's being wasted - it's returning part of a tree back into the ground.

How about companies stop using tree products so cheaply?  I brought in 8 phone books from the doorstep a couple weeks ago that I never wanted which I'm gladly using to make paper pots for vegetable/herb starts and to grow some oyster mushrooms on.
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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Nathan Johns wrote:
Well it's not as if it's being wasted - it's returning part of a tree back into the ground.

How about companies stop using tree products so cheaply?  I brought in 8 phone books from the doorstep a couple weeks ago that I never wanted which I'm gladly using to make paper pots for vegetable/herb starts and to grow some oyster mushrooms on.


There are several companies in the Pacific Northwest cutting down monocultural deserts of trees and shipping chips of it to Asia.  The tree companies won't stop so long as they make money.  Hearst, the mighty lumber baron went as far as to make things illegal via his newspapers just in order to keep profits.  They have destroyed wetlands here in order to move logs when they never needed to.  Animals are mere fractions of what they used to be.  And yet, demand supposedly keeps going up.

Personally, I think people need to wake up and retool / educate themselves, but so long as people keep going to boob tubes & believing in 5th avenue dreams we kill keep running straight downhill.
 
Brenda Groth
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makes some kind of crooked sense..however..i'm in an area where there is very little recycling, and you are more likely to see it going to the landfill, so I would encourage it here..unless people will really recycle it.

so i guess it depends on where you are..

i do however think that using "plastics" as sheet mulch isn't the smartest thing..anywhere i have seen it used it becomes MORE of a problem rather than a help..

I have used cardboard..here..esp the really really large and definately difficult to recycle boxes like refrigerators and t v's come in..they are perfect for sheet mulch and are very difficult to get into those recycle bins at the recycling centers, if they aren't already full..

i also shred junk mail and put it on my garden..i know this is frowned upon,however, with identity theft a problem shredding and mulching with my junk mail stops that here .

we don't get a newspaper other than the free ad ones that show up ..think newspapers are gradually disappearing from the marketplace...so this will be moot soon
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