But what’s the blog about?
I’ve started feeling a little weird about the amount of garbage I produce. So the plan is to photograph each piece of garbage before it is disposed of in the hopes that the sheer quantity will shock me into a willingness to be more thoughtful about what and how much I “throw away.”
Throw away is such a great euphemism. Or perhaps it has ceased to be a euphemism because we unconsciously believe the stuff really is going away. It’s going. It’s the away part that’s a problem. Of course it actually gets trucked away to a less congested landscape where it is piled on top of all of everyone else’s garbage until it forms a garbage mountain known as a landfill located near someone else’s house where we can comfortably forget about it until we see something on the news about a community we’ve never heard of where the fish have two heads.
Landfill sites aren’t just big holes in the ground. They have to adhere to regulations regarding the safety of the surrounding environment. Reading these regulations made me feel all warm inside. For one thing the sites are lined and a lot of research and development goes into these liners. These liners are called barriers and they keep decomposing garbage from leaking into the groundwater below, until they deteriorate. According to the EPA all barriers will ultimately fail. So, there’s a problem.
In spite of the quantity of garbage we produce, (230 million tons nationally), it seems unlikely that we’ll max out our available landfill space in the next decade or so. Though, should we find that landfill poses a much greater and more immediate environmental threat than we thought, we’re going to need other options. And this seems quite likely, see above barrier failure. I think it’s safe to say that landfill is not an ideal solution. It seems that the better we get at disposing of our waste the more we ultimately harm ourselves. Because landfills now take lots of precautions, the stuff inside them gets zero exposure to air and light. Even biodegradable stuff doesn’t break down. So the empty toothpaste tube I throw out today will be with us for thousands of years.
The other problem is that we’ve gotten really good at whisking our garbage away to somewhere most of us never see. It isn’t my drinking water in danger of contamination from what I throw away, it’s yours. Wouldn’t it be better if we were confronted with the spoils of our consumerism and forced to understand that all of this stuff has to go somewhere?
So what am I suggesting, that we sit in piles of our own garbage to gain an awareness of it?
Don’t be disgusting.
I just want to see if I can reduce my output without too much, you know, pain.