We’ve become a pretty "trashy" society


Okay, I admit it. This column stinks. You might even say it’s downright trashy.

Over the past few months I have become fascinated with the regional landfill which is quietly swelling like an altar to our castoffs. I travel past it at least once a week, and out of the blue I noticed it’s reached astounding proportions. 

This monument to the debris of our lives is almost beautiful, if you don’t think too hard about what’s inside.

At first you couldn’t see it at all, and didn’t care what was going on out there.  Then, little by little, inch by inch, it rose out of the prairie and now rivals the baby slope in Vail where I first learned to ski.

Overnight, it’s become a small mountain. I’m wondering if we couldn’t manufacture some snow on cold winter days and let people have a run at the slopes.

You’d have to psych yourself up a bit, because you’d know a spill would bring your posterior into close contact with all sorts of horrors –  the remains of dirty diapers, used Kleenex and bygone burritos.  Eau.

It has been estimated that Americans generate about 210 million tons of solid waste each year, with each of us producing some 4-5 pounds a day. I think that’s conservative. I just tossed my circa 1975 first generation food processor which weighed 22 pounds all by itself.  Coupled with my old boom box that only played eight-track tapes, and my steam iron which leaves black streaks on my clothes, I dumped a grand total of 42 pounds into the solid waste stream in one morning.

At this rate, I’m wondering when when ole Mother Earth will begin to wobble on her axis and go spinning off into the wild blue yonder.

I’ve got a sure-fire way to get people excited about recycling. If the sanitation department could incinerate or compact all our trash (or whatever they do to it) and return it to us in a big pile every few weeks we’d be a lot slower to pitch things.  Instead of planting flowers, we’ll be out burying our compacted garbage.

I’m thinking of running for mayor with this return policy as my platform.  I’ll be nicknamed the trashiest candidate on the ballot.

Seriously though, I wonder what future generations will think of us when they excavate our landfills.

I read somewhere that the things people discard tell more about them than the things they keep. Number one, it shows we are kidding ourselves. Look at our trash and we’ll find we underestimate our beer consumption by 50 percent and overestimate our asparagus consumption by 200 percent according to William Rathje and Cullen Murphy in their new publication “Rubbish!”

In their witty and erudite investigation of our garbage, they note that it tells mountains about our population’s demographics and buying habits.

Since I’m very sentimental, and I can’t seem to part with anything, the rest of my trash won’t say much.  I have several brown paper bags of broken plates, lamps and what-nots – all smashed to smithereens by my two boys when they were rambunctious youngsters.

Why I’m keeping them (the bags, not the children) I know not.  I think I was considering using them for tiles to grout and resurface my driveway. It would be a work of art and I would probably be invited to appear on HGTV.

That’s probably not going to happen.

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