Oh, to da dump

Ode to the Dump

When I was a wee lad the dump was a pit created at the end of a canyon. You drove to the dump, dumped your garbage and hunted around for anything you could use.

One day we went to the dump and they were putting up a fence with a gate. We laughed, who would steal from the dump?

The next time we went there was a tippage fee of a buck. Those were the good old days.

Since then a lot has happened but probably the biggest thing to happen has be the realization that even when you bury it nice and deep, GARBAGE DOESN’T GO AWAY!

It changes, gets worse, leaks into the water and off-gasses into the air. Some garbage doesn’t change; iron rusts and wood rots but plastic is forever, especially if it is hidden from sunlight.

That realization has meant that we no longer take "garbage" to the "dump". We take solid waste to the municipal recovery facility.

As has been clear for some time now, (see present and past BOS reports here) we living in Sierra County have been getting off pretty easily. We can still go to the dump if we like, instead of being forced by the county to use a garbage company. Often, when we go the landfill or transfer station we pay nothing.

That’s over, we have to get used to that idea. The trash we produce creates problems for the future, and we have to take responsibility for it. It’s unfortunate that the economy is in a coma; it can’t be helped, the impact of our trash remains in the physical realm, outside of political will or economic whim.

There is no nice way to deal with "waste". It takes fuel to transport, and money to sort. Burning it costs money, and we’ve filled our oceans already (there is a floating whirl of plastic garbage in the North Pacific Gyre that is larger than the United States).

It’s up to you, and to me.

We’ll dump in the canyon
That’s what poor people sometimes end up doing, because they think they can afford it. We can’t afford it, cousins. Remember the realization: garbage doesn’t go away. You might have gotten away with it, the rest of us didn’t.

Besides, it might not be as easy as you think; those of us who don’t dump in the canyons will turn you in. I’ll completely ignore a pot patch or some cousin skinning a deer on his tailgate, but you dump trash in the woods and I’ll witness against you in court.

The bigger reason not to dump in the canyons is the same reason we don’t pinch a loaf on the sofa: it’s our home.

Where to start
First of all, we have to reduce what goes to the landfill. In some locations you can’t simply dump trash, you dump your bag out on a table and the attendant has you go through to be sure you aren’t dumping recyclables, or sending compost or paper through. When they are done, very little of what was in your bag goes into the landfill.

That’s what we have to do, my friends, before we get to the dump, go through our trash and see what can come out, what can be recycled, what the chickens might eat.

Maybe we should take our lessons from the desperately poor of the world, those who literally live in, and mine, the garbage dumps of the world’s great cities, Mexico City, Manila, Guatemala city. There are things of value in our waste, we need to pull them aside before we go to the landfill.

There are going to be reforms at the transfer stations (we’ll soon have no landfill), and they will cost money. For one thing, it costs a great deal of money to charge you at the gate. That will almost certainly have to happen. There will be mandatory, enforced recycling, count on it. Every change will bring more costs.

It was sad and a little funny to watch the Supervisors stress and strain over raising the per parcel fee from $231 to $255. Twenty four dollars a year, two dollars a month? That’s nothing, cousins.

We don’t simply elect the supervisors and then go limp, letting them handle every problem. That isn’t reasonable. We need to help these neighbors who took on the job of running the administration of the county.

Let’s agree to:

  • Find out how to reduce our waste stream
  • Recycle all we can
  • Reuse/take to thrift stores everything we can
  • Support the Board of Supervisors in providing solid waste disposal.
  • Bite the bullet and get ready to pay our fees.


A cool example isHERE 

Next big problem: we're going to lose our volunteer fire departments.

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