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

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Early in the semester, I had the idea of talking with the people that probably know more about garbage than just about anybody on this campus (other than our class of course), our janitorial staff. On a daily basis, they handle the junk, rotting filth, and completely resuable stuff that we want out of our lives.

On this particular morning they had just finished collecting the weekend's trash, which was immense and stinky for just two days of work. Through a short conversation, I found out that not only did these ladies have to collect and move our garbage, they also had to sort it... all of it. Even though we have a blue bin, in which students are expected to separate their own recyclables out of their regular trash, our building's trash gets a second scan by these brave souls.

The sheer amount of waste generated in just 2 days was unreal to me. It brings up all the questions Royte asks about our consumption as well as those we've raised and attempted to answer in class, regarding how to address the mounting garbage problems. It is clear to me that there is no bigger source to attack than consumption patterns. If one building (roughly 90 people) can produce over ten bags of trash in two days, there's something going terribly wrong.

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