Here’sWhy5

There really is no AWAY into which we toss our waste

21 February 2011

Sometimes it’s coal; sometimes it’s nuclear waste . . . but this time . . . and every day, it’s garbage.

Hauling garbage from Portland is an unseemly and broadly unseen task. Every day, Portlanders put trash in a household receptacle, weekly carry it to the curb, where franchise haulers collect it, and truck it to one of two transfer stations, where giant compactors squish a city’s trash into 25-ton slugs,  and then ship it east about 150 miles to the Columbia Ridge Landfill.  Truckers haul garbage 24 hours a day, five days a week.  And that’s just Portland.  From Seattle, 70-car trains make the 320 mile journey three times a week.

Donella Meadows once famously said that “there is no away into which we throw things.”  We just put it somewhere else, like pushing dirty clothes under the bed, or setting dirty dishes on the back patio then closing the curtain.  We are just putting our garbage into a different part of the Columbia River Watershed . . . for Seattlites, it’s a good move since their moved garbage is now upstream from Portland. NIMBY, baby!

In 2009, MIT teamed with Seattle to track trash.  And this amazing video tells the trashy story and reminds us, emphatically, that this world we live in is OneThing.

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