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Talking Trash

Living way out in the country has its many perks and pitfalls. One of the most annoying pitfalls is the large treasure troves of trash you will inevitably find on your property. You don’t realize that the trash pits are there until you start excavating for a project. Unfortunately, the type of pit we have yet to find are the ones with real treasure, like finding civil war memorabilia or a letter from George Washington encased in a weather tight box. These types of buried treasures are the kind we most welcome. Sadly, the buried treasures we seem to be finding are: WalMart bags, tin cans, car batteries, Prestone jugs, Clorox bleach bottles and other not so amusing artifacts. Mainly it’s plastic that’s most annoying, we have found plastic products from the 70s just as new as the day it was purchased (Anyone remember Biz?). I mean we all know plastic is not biodegradable. However when you actually stumble upon the mystical marvel of the petroleum based container that’s been buried for many years and there is no sign of deterioration, it makes one think.

There are no trash trucks that come weekly; however, there is free dump day on the last Friday of every month. Dump Day is one of our favorite “holidays”, it’s the day we take our trash and those who have left trash before us away. It’s always a fascinating adventure, the guys who work there are well, interesting but are always very nice to me. Usually you simply drive up to this ridge, jump in the back of the truck and throw your stuff over the side into a large vat that is hauled away. One day, we were diverted up into the bowels of the dump through foot deep mud up to the top of a hill. There, at the top of the hill (which would have been a beautiful vista) were 15 foot high mounds of trash. When we got out of the truck our rubber boots quickly sank into stinky muck, it was like moving through quicksand, and our first reaction was to hurl.

Between the stinging eyes and my stomach that felt as though it had been on a rotisserie too long, I thought of a National Geographic photograph which showed a young Japanese boy sitting on top of a mountain of computer parts. Old motherboards, monitors, cases all made from plastic. I gazed upon the vast hills at the WV dump where “Little Tikes” slides and scooters peered sadly back at me. I thought to myself, what the hell are we all thinking?

As we drove away, something caught my eye, it was a hillside. I thought that there had been a fire, everything was “none more black”. On second glance I realized that the hillside had not been burned, it was just a hillside of tires. When Doc and I first started talking about getting the heck out of Dodge, many years ago, we had wanted to build a tire house which then mutated into a strawbale house.

Now, growing up in La-la-land recycling and the environment was a very chic thing to be into. Conserving water, cause you’re always in a drought became second nature. Recycling glass, certain plastics, paper, aluminum, and tin was easy, you had a recycling truck come and haul all your recyclables away every week. I was religious in recycling everything, even when I got disturbing news of the recycling going straight to the la-la-landfills. But every week, I said to myself, hey at least I’m doing my part.

As the recycling logo says: Reuse, Renew, and Recycle, many of us, including myself just do the latter. I have met many resourceful people out here that actually do all three. And it has been my mission since that horrible day at the dump, to try my best not to produce so much waste that will go back into landfills. A mission that is very difficult to maintain, especially because it takes so much more effort & time. And as you are all well aware we are a nation of convenience, and we’ve come to demand it daily.

Field Trip Idea: Take a trip to your local landfill!


Interesting Facts found just for YOU!

These facts and more were found here:

  • In the U.S., 4.39 pounds of trash per day and up to 56 tons of trash per year are created by the average person.
  • Only about one-tenth of all solid garbage in the United States gets recycled.
  • Almost 1/3 of the waste generated the U.S. is packaging.
  • Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.
  • Every year, Americans make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap the state of Texas.
  • Americans throw away enough aluminum cans to rebuild our commercial air fleet every three months, and enough iron and steel to supply all our nation's automakers every day.
  • Americans receive almost 4 million tons of junk mail every year. Most of it winds up in landfills.
  • Each year, Americans trash enough office paper to build a 12-foot wall from Los Angeles to New York City.
  • Americans toss out enough paper & plastic cups, forks and spoons every year to circle the equator 300 times.

More interesting facts

Only two manmade structures on Earth are large enough to be seen from outer space: the Great Wall of China and the Fresh Kills landfill!

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