The Great Disposal
The big thing I learned is never ever wear sandals to a landfill. I managed to do this twice.
Second, the local landfill was actually in a really beautiful part of town. Well, out of town in a particular beautiful direction, I guess. I’d never had occasion to go that way, but having gone there I felt it was a shame. If we’d stayed, I might have advocated building a house that way. Well, if we’d stayed and there hadn’t been the landfill over that way.
I was expecting there to be a big dumpster or something. I put the trash in there, then some truck puts it in a pit that gets covered up. Actually, we just put it on the ground. Somehow it goes from a ground to the container, then maybe the container to somewhere else. Whatever the case, you’re just putting a bunch of stuff on the ground. That’s… a really weird feeling.
The second trip out there involved dumping our auto-swing. It stopped working sometime back. We felt really bad about throwing away something that was close to useful. But it was in such a shape that I knew thrift stores wouldn’t take it and we didnt want to haul it across the country.
Now, I am not exactly Mr. Environmentalist, but one place (not the only place) where I am sympathetic is the throwing away of almost-good-stuff. I am always trying to repurpose old electronics equipment, for instance. But sometimes you can’t. Mom runs a thrift store for the church and she tells me enough to know that broken electronics, even if useful in other contexts, is never useful to them. Maybe a gadgeteer could fix it, but it’s all part of the disposable societal that hippies and environmentalists and liberals lament and where I don’t honestly disagree at least in the abstract sense.
So imagine my happy surprise when I arrive back with the next load and the swing was gone! Actually, it was in the truck parked next to me. The woman noticed me looking at it and was self-conscious about it. I had simply told her that I’d dropped off the autoswing a half-hour before and I was pleased as punch that someone was going to have a use for it.
She took it the wrong way and said that she would put it back. I told her that no I was very happy. And in fact I went in my car and gave her the mobile hangs that I’d taken off before trashing it. This changed her mood on it somewhat. She was still embarrassed and explained away why she was in a landfill getting stuff. To me, no explanation was necessary. Seriously. I think it’s great if people can find and make use of such stuff. I wish more people would do it.
Even setting aside environmental concerns, a cradle-to-cradle society of stuff seems more culturally nourishing to me than the disposable one we participate in.