Friday, July 18, 2008


Yes, this is the outside face of a landfill. Puente Hills

So today I'm taking a break from the 'pretty' and talking about the Important (notice, capital 'I'!!). I read this really interesting article about where our trash goes after we dispose of it and the ramifications of our trash-based society (oh, thats a broad statement in so many ways!). In the May 2008 issue of GQ was an important article entitled 'This is paradise' about one of the largest trash dumps in the country in CA, Puente Hills.
The inside face of Puente Hills after a day's work has been covered with 12" of dirt

The process is incredibly complex and sophisticated. There are trash engineers out there who are passionate about their craft and are interested in the entire cycle of life and how our trash fits into that. These are SMART guys - at one point in the article someone mentions how our politicians should be coming from trash engineering (that would probably be an improvement)! All the gasses and juices released from the landfills (eww!) are being turned into electricity at these more sophisticated sites. The circle of life is continued.
the 5 steps of trash

I won't transcribe the entire article here (but it's definitely worth a read and i've linked to it below) but I think the important issue here is that every single thing that you get rid of without thought, takes many many people to get 'put away' and a lot of energy and SPACE. But the thing is - it NEVER goes away. It's there forever. So much of this waste can be recycled or more efficiently even, reused! So next time you throw something away, think twice. Can it be donated, recycled, resused in another way? And next time you're at the store, do you need a bag? Can you carry it or resuse a bag? Do you really need to put a plastic bag around those apples at the store? Do you need that twisty tie; and if you do can you reuse it later?
Here is 'Big Mike' -one of the characters interviewed in the article. A day's worth of trash at this ONE site is so enormous, you can't even imagine. Waste, Waste, Waste!

Read the entire article online HERE. I also have scanned the article into a pdf, please email me if you would like a copy of it.


L said...

I am SO glad you wrote about this. My boyfriend and I are getting more and more eco-friendly as the days go by. On recycling pick-up day, I have AT LEAST two to three large blue trashcan-sized recycling bags on my curb. It feels SO good. And it's SOOOO easy! I even recycle the toilet paper roll!

And I always use canvas shopping bags wherever I shop--even clothing stores. I sometimes get some weird looks, but I don't care. I sleep better at night.

Yay for lovin' the earth!

with love from Pittsburgh...

Be the change..... said...

That makes 2 of us, Laura! haha I've also been using 'green' cleaning products and Tom of Maine's products too ( toothpaste, etc.) - they're even BETTER than the 'regular'!

Kathleen said...

As an architect, do you nudge your clients toward projects that reduce waste? When we were planning our renovation, we introduced our builder/architect to the idea of deconstruction. When a house is deconstructed, many of the materials that would usually go in a dumpster are donated to places that sell them as salvage. That was one thing we could do to reduce what went into a landfill. But, still, I'm saddened by how many dumpsters the project has demanded.

Be the change..... said...

Our firm always recommends it, Kathleen -but in the end that is up to the client. I'm not sure what the percentage of people do the recycling programs -but I know of a few that have. I think it just takes time to warm society up to the idea. I think we're doing our part without being heavy handed. In the end it's the client who makes all the decisions as it's their money. Hopefully someday it will all be a cycle with everything being recycled like the article suggests.