Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Down in the dump(s)

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been down in the dump(s). No, I've not been discouraged, depressed or even sad. Rather, I've been literally down in the dumps: the dumps of Farm Dover. And Ed's been with me.

You see, we are cleaning up an old farm dump that we've known about, but chosen to ignore – until now. Farm Dover was once part of a much larger farm that supported a number of families. And, as was custom at the time, the inhabitants hauled their trash to a remote part of the farm and dumped it. Year after year, layer after layer, they deposited their empty glass bottles and plastic jugs, their worn-out clothes, their broken implements, appliances, toys and tires. In the summer, you would have to know exactly where the dump is to find it. Vines cover the evidence. But in the winter, it lies bare, exposing the ugly reality.

Now, layer by layer, we are attempting to clean it up, hauling the remnants in our pickup truck to the Shelby County Solid Waste and Recycling Center. We are separating the glass, the plastic, the aluminum, the metal, for recycling. The rest we will heave into the large garbage disposal bins, paying $.03 per pound for the privilege, where it will make its way to yet another landfill.

We've barely made a dent. So this may take us some time. But it seems the right thing to do.

Truth be told, it does get me a bit down in the dumps just thinking about it. It takes time, lots of time, for garbage to decompose. For example:
  • Glass Bottle: 1 million years
  • Plastic Beverage Bottle: 450 years
  • Disposable Diapers: 450 years
  • Aluminum Can: 80-200 years
  • Leather: 50 years
  • Plastic Bag: 10-20 years
  • Foamed Plastic Cup: 50 years
  • Cigarette Butt: 1-5 years
  • Wool Sock: 1-5 years
  • Newspaper: 6 weeks
  • Paper Towel: 2-4 weeks
The average American produces more than four pounds of trash and recyclables per day, about 1,500 pounds per year. The very process of cleaning up this dump has me all in a dither about the number of Tide detergent bottles our tiny household goes through, the number of plastic arugula, kale and berry boxes we purchase every time we go to Kroger, even the plastic pots that the trees we plant arrive in. Yes, we recycle all that we can, but it's got me to thinking. And to acting. More later.... 

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