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Sobering visit to the local landfill...

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
My son is 5 y.o. and is responsible for the recycling in the house, so in the interest of a-picture-is-worth-a-1000-words....

We went to the landfill today. At first I thought the guy wasn't going to let us drive in there. At the entrance there's one big metal building and several huge yellow vehicles parked nearby; across the road are about 10 big blue bins stuffed with all manner of trash, from couches to old tires. I gather this is where people are required to dump their loads; we saw one guy with cabinets in the back of his truck waiting to unload. Beyond that are high bare hills on which no trash is visible. I was rather disappointed, but then we drove on a dirt road, after a guy in a big tractor gave us permission. The road makes an enormous circuit around these hills and at the far side we came to the current trash heap. It was probably at least 50 feet high, but I'm a bad judge of height. Turns out all those hills are made of trash. I gather once they're full they put dirt over the top and these black pipes all over -- I suppose to let the gas escape. On the way we also saw an excavated site where it seems they will put the anti-leach basin before starting a new trash pile. We stopped the car on the current hill and hiked to the top. There were two empty tractor-type vehicles that seem to be either for transport or for compacting down the trash. Trash lay all over the hill, just out in the open. Unbelievable what people throw away. DS and I looked over the mound and identified so many things that could have been recycled. The scary thing is that this is very close to one of our major rivers. I'll bet I could have thrown a rock and hit it.
I think, because DS doesn't entirely "get it" yet, we're going to do a biodegradable experiment, where we're going to leave a bunch of stuff outside to see what happens to it: plastic, glass, cardboard, paper, leaves, cloth, that kind of thing. Hopefully this will lead to more understanding (for me and him) why it's best not just to recycle, but to be careful about what we buy in the first place. Has anyone done this? I'd welcome ideas if it's been done before.
post #2 of 12
I think what you did was an excellant idea. I know that for me, the huge shift in reducing, reusing, recyling happened after dh and I made a trip to our local dump. It was incredibly depressing and sobering.
post #3 of 12
I cried the last time we went to our local landfill. It was so depressing... There was a huge dumping area for people to unload their trash before it was moved into the landfill and I'll never forget how depressing it was to see so many perfectly useable items (that probably should have been donated) in that ginormous pile of trash.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Yeah. I'm hoping our son will become an ambassador for reusing and recycling and not buying the crap in the first place!
He's already really anal about picking up trash in the outdoors, and insists on recycling everything that can be recycled.
We started our experiment yesterday. We have an orange peel, plastic, glass, rubber bands, paper, cardboard, a piece of cloth, a penny, tinfoil, a basil leaf, a piece of tile, and now I'm in search of a nice, recently deceased bug.
post #5 of 12
What a great way to teach you kid to be a responsible consumer! I may just do the same scientific observation with my dd.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
It'll be a long-term experiment! I think it'll teach ME as much as it teaches him. He's on fire to check it all the time to see if anything has changed.
post #7 of 12
We have this feeling every time we drive near our dump. We are still getting our recycling system set up but we never seem to throw as much out as a lot of people.
post #8 of 12
Great idea!

Around here a lot of people bring their own trash to the dump so it's a weekly lesson. DD1 and I sit in the car as dh empties our trash into the different piles and we talk about the different amounts/types of stuff people are bringing.

Also, getting rid of stuff here costs extra... when you go to the dump your vehicle is weighed on the way in and on the way out and you're charged for that. And if you have a trash service (municipal through the city or contractual in the rural areas) you still have to buy "tags" to put on your bags. The dump truck wont take your trash bag if it doesn't have a tag (4 dollars for a "large" 35lb bag of trash, 2.50 for the "small" 20 lbs bag).

I have to admit, the tags really make you think about recycling since recycling is free! Oh, and dd1 helps us sort out our returnables and scrap metal and she gets to keep a portion of that money. She's only 3 but she loves it! That might be another tool for helping your little one get into the recycling groove... not only is it good for the planet, it can be good for savings accounts too.
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by wombatclay View Post
Great idea!

Around here a lot of people bring their own trash to the dump so it's a weekly lesson. DD1 and I sit in the car as dh empties our trash into the different piles and we talk about the different amounts/types of stuff people are bringing.

Also, getting rid of stuff here costs extra... when you go to the dump your vehicle is weighed on the way in and on the way out and you're charged for that. And if you have a trash service (municipal through the city or contractual in the rural areas) you still have to buy "tags" to put on your bags. The dump truck wont take your trash bag if it doesn't have a tag (4 dollars for a "large" 35lb bag of trash, 2.50 for the "small" 20 lbs bag).

I have to admit, the tags really make you think about recycling since recycling is free! Oh, and dd1 helps us sort out our returnables and scrap metal and she gets to keep a portion of that money. She's only 3 but she loves it! That might be another tool for helping your little one get into the recycling groove... not only is it good for the planet, it can be good for savings accounts too.
That's amazing, what a forward thinking setup! I'm curious as to where you live!
post #10 of 12
Ithaca NY. Though in all honesty I don't know if the tags really motivate the average person to do more recycling or if it just generates income for the city while annoying the heck out of people. Not to mention the impact on people who are already struggling financially (every time the tag price increases there is an increase in illegal dumping. ) We used to live right in town and almost every week we'd scramble to find tags 20 minutes before the truck came by. And if the trash guys decide your bag is too heavy they leave it, which is also annoying.

But now that we're further out of town we haul our own trash and that keeps us honest since "extra" garbage means more work as well as more money.
post #11 of 12
i've always wanted to take my kids to a landfill. very sobering. thanks for the reminder that our trash doesn't just disappear "somewhere."
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Well, it wasn't my idea, really. I read this book called Garbage Land, by Elizabeth Royte. Really, really eye-opening. But I did want to see it myself.
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