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[GreenYes] Landfills vs. dumps
The path to enlightenment takes some strange twists sometimes.

One of the things that still continues to amaze me when I give presentations to school-age children is what they call the place where our garbage goes.  Even after 25 years of RCRA, outlawed above ground dumps and recycling education out the wazoo, most kids still respond to the question, "Where does all of our garbage go?" with: "The dump!"  And, of course, I always tell them of the technological wizardry associated with new, lined landfills replete with leachate collection systems, methane recovery systems and how we must call them 'landfills' now.  But, alas, maybe I've listened to the siren song of the industry too long myself and have become jaded to the innocence and unvarnished truth of youth.  Maybe they have it right.  The place where we take our garbage is NOT a landfill!  It is not filled with land.  It is filled with garbage, discards, throwaways, the unwanted crud of our culture.  I'm sure there are any number of people who can point to the technical derivation of the word and how proper it is.  But the fact remains, the word sounds much too enchanting and therefore much too nice to rail against in a civil society (NIMBY's notwithstanding).

Doesn't it sound so much nicer to call the place where all of our rotting, stinking, foul, commingled crud goes a landfill?  A landfill.  The word virtually rolls off the tongue.  A landfill.  It's almost lyrical.  It makes me to wonder how the word landfill directly translates into other languages.  It would be interesting to know what other cultures and nationalities call the place where their crud goes.  Anyone want to post the words to allow some cross-cultural enlightenment?  Better yet, what words do the children from other cultures call the 'dump'?  Post the words.

I would like to be able to say that I will never call a garbage dump a landfill ever again.  But the bitter irony is that my salary is paid through fees from, you guessed it, the landfill.  But I can and will stop attempting to make a stinkweed into a rose.

And now I'll step down from my soapbox and end my protestations.  Any other thoughts on the matter?

Thanks to all who listen.


B. Wayne Turner
City of Winston-Salem
Utilities Division
phone: (336) 727 8418
email: waynet@cityofws.org

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