Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Trash Talk Tuesday

This morning we visited the landfill of St. Lucia. There are actually two landfills on the island: one in the north and one in the south. The one we visited today was located in the north. We found out that it was built in 2003 and is projected to last about twenty years (that’s not really a long time). After 2023, it will then most likely have about four feet of dirt piled on top of it, turned into a grass hill which wild animals will roam free on, and a new landfill will have to be found.

Here is a clip of the landfill from this morning. Incidentally today was trash day for my neighborhood.

I asked what happens to old landfills here, and we passed two today. One was a giant hill which I saw some sheep feeding on, and then I thought out loud, “that’s not really supposed to be a hill is it…?” Nope. The second one, well… a giant colorful tourist hotel was constructed on top of it. Little do they know…. it gives a whole new meaning to “taking the trash out”! The puns are endless.

Solid waste is a fascinating topic/issue as it is not unique to St. Lucia. Every community has dealt with how and where to dispose of their waste since the beginning of time. I was wondering if there might be an ancient civilization that had the answers, so I used my interweb box and conducted a search. Sadly, the almighty google tells me that since the beginning of time mankind has had a problem with disposing of waste, and the cycle continues on and on and on. It’s depressing. Even the Mayans couldn’t figure out a way to properly get rid of trash. When they finally couldn’t stand it, they burned their trash. I did find out some interesting facts though.

  • the first municipal dump in the western world was created in Athens Greece in 500 BC
  • During biblical times in the Valley of Gehenna, located just outside of Jerusalem, corpses of criminals and trash were burned around the clock. Gehenna has been likened to Hell
  • After England did some investigative reporting linking waste to the spread of diseases the “age of sanitation” begins in 1842

So what have I have discovered today? We’ve got a LOT of trash on our hands. Since some have considered a landfill like Hell, I wonder if the employees of landfills ever consider themselves lucky that on a daily basis they get to travel to Hell and back? And apparently we have not made any major strides during this so called “age of sanitation” aside from stopping the bubonic plague.

Then I began thinking, why do we have such a problem with solid waste? It appears that we have an inordinate amount of it and few places to stick it. Is the problem us, the role of government, or something else? How many people have actually visited a landfill? As trash seems to be something that is out of sight out of mind, I wondered what would happen if we take a giant glass cubicle and placed it in the center of town? Imagine a giant cube of trash right smack next to city hall, the capital, or wherever the decision makers are located. Each day community members would walk by this giant cube of trash and see it accumulating very quickly…there could even be a ticker like the stock market on it that tells us how many pounds of trash is in it. It also reeks, and because the structure is clear, we can see what dumb things we throw away. I think it would take 2, maybe 3, weeks for us to finally get tired of looking at the eyesore to do something.

In the words of Oscar the Grouch, “Uh uh. Sorry, Slimy, time for sleep now. So close your eyes and dream of all the wonderful trash that’s yet to come… there’ll be more trash tomorrow.”


Rebecca Morrison said...

So what do we do about it? just reduse, reuse and recycle?

sl said...

I was there. I love this post. Oscar loves trash and i love that you found it. How many kids know about trash b/c of Oscar?? and Slimey? amazing, jude.

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