Where did it all go?

07/25/2012 19:30


I just threw out the trash … but once it is discarded where does it go?  According to the Environmental Protection Agency (in 2008) approximately 250 million tons of garbage was produced (which means thrown out) … and 83 million tons of it was recycled (about 1/3).  (See https://www.answerbag.com/q_view/1869772)   The most common things to be recycled are paper goods, yard trimmings, food scraps, and plastics.  Oh, by the way, these figures are for the US only.

What about the rest of our garbage … you might ask.  Well, the greatest majority of it ends up in landfills.  Landfills can be defined as the place where, after a product’s useful life, we store its remains.  This progression is a function of two rather misguided economic strategies.  The first is what is called “planned obsolescence” and the second is called “resource extraction”

Issue #1:  Planned obsolescence is a design policy that limits the useful life of a product so that it forces the user to buy again and again.  The idea is to stimulate demand rather than provide longevity.  (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_obsolescence)  Obviously this stimulates sales but does little to protect the environment or to preserve resources.

Issue #2:  Resource extraction can be described as … “To take, in the quickest and cheapest manner, the most profitable portions of any naturally existing commodity … and then … to move on the next!”  Obviously this is intended to stimulate a company’s bottom line but, once again does little tp protect the environment or the preserve our natural resources.

Issue #3:  Landfills are filling up!  (See https://www.ecoevaluator.com/lifestyle/recycling/filling-our-landfills.html)  But that is not the worst part of the problem.  The real problem is that “eventually” every landfill is going to leak and they contain some of the most toxic substances known to man.  (See https://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/06/09/29/how-dangerous-is-it-really-to-live-near-a-landfill-and-how-near-is-too-near.htm)  Simply put that means that … twenty years from now … or fifty years from now … or a hundred years from now … those toxins are going to begin to leach into the air, the water, and the soil.

Issue #4:  Until a leak is detected (which means it has already begun to contaminate things) no one knows it is happening.  The reason I am voicing concern is that on a local basis it appears we may have a leaking landfill … with toxins getting into local wells (you know … the water we drink).  The company operating the landfill acknowledges that there are high levels of toxins in local wells but claims there is no proof the toxins are coming from their site.  I think you can see the path this might take; i.e. you continue to use the contaminated water while the courts take years (possibly decades) to decide who is at fault,

Native Americans had great wisdom.  They said, “We do not own the land … we only borrow it from our children!”

OK … you may not get sick from the toxic substances in the air, the soil, and the water … but what about your children?  Do we want to put up with this so that some corporation can maintain it precious profit line?  Really?