Above, one of three mounds at the Seneca Meadows Landfill in Waterloo, NY, as seen from the west side of Seneca Lake approximately eight miles away (through a telephoto lens). Credit: Kevin Colton, HWS.

EPA Region Map

EPA Region Map
EPA Region Map

Monday, February 7, 2011

Your Trash is my Treasure

...or at least some of it.

Not dis-smilar to most of
my fellow HWS garbologists, I would consider myself to be an environmentalist: I consistently go "the extra mile" to make a sustainable choice whether it be buying local, recycling, composting, you name it.
One green-thumbed habit that I have been born and bread to exercise is to buy second hand. Ever since I was old enough to breathe, I have been outfitted in the latest fashions of somebody else's garbage. Hand-me-downs from cousins, the Salvation Army, Goodwill, PTO Thrift, Little Woman in a Shoe, Recycle Ann Arbor, Crossroads Trading Post, and Buffalo Exchange are just a few of the sources of this practice.
"Just think of all of the trash you are diverting (not to mention money that you are saving) by turning someone else's junk into your new clothes," I told myself. The frequency with which I shop at second hand stores allowed me to believe that most of my clothes were someone else's before they were mine. How wrong I was. Exhibit A: my dresser. After pulling out every article of clothing from every drawer, I was a little shocked to find that the "new" pile was at least twice as big as the "used" pile (photo above).
In horror, I rushed to
the closet for re-assurance, Exhibit B. Following the same procedure, I sorted clothes that I purchased "new" to the left, and "used" to the right. Fortunately for my psyche, the results of this experiment were somewhat more comforting. About half of my closet-matter was "used," leaving the other half to be "new" (second photo).

My Conclusion: Yes, a large percentage of my clothes come in the form of salvaged second-hand treasures. BUT, the majority are straight from the factory.

Lesson Learned: Be proud of your trash offsets and your recycled treasures, but don't let your head trick you into thinking you are doing better than you actually are. There is ALWAYS room for improvement.

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