Sunday, November 23, 2008
garbage - what a waste!
I got an up close look at a landfill for the first time last week. And boy was it up close. It was part of a project that I'm doing with TerraCycle and our assignment was to go digging around a landfill in Central New Jersey. Wow - was there a mountain of waste. Speaking to Joe, this landfill's head-honcho, I learned that this mountain was garbage collected just in Burlington county. It took them 11 years to fill up 1 enormous hole and then cover it up. They were well on their way to filling up another. Walking through all of the materials, I discovered most of what was in there could've been diverted had it been handled appropriately before tossing. There was paper, glass bottles, plastic containers, leaves. All covered with a layer of gunk. It was so gross and smelled utterly nauseating! I've been known to dig through my fair share of dumpsters and piles of garbage, but once this stuff lands in a landfill, even I don't want to touch it! There was a layer of slime on everything.
This visit reconfirmed that what I've been doing - diverting scraps before they get this far - is so important. And it made me realize that there's a supply of garbage out there that is seemingly unlimited at this point. We have a long way to go before we reach zero waste but it's not impossible. We just have a lot of work to do. I guarantee it won't be a waste.
Both photos were taken from my cell phone. The photo at top is from on top of the 11 year old landfill that has been covered with grass, looking onto the new landfill. The photo above is a "small" pile of garbage accumulated from a few weeks. Landfills get layered with garbage and then soil, so behind that garbage pile, there's another larger pile covered in soil.