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Batshite Goes to the Dump

07/09/2011

I don my photojournalist hat once more (it’s actually less a hat and more a crumpled paper boat that sits precariously atop my hair).

Yesterday I tagged along with my Dad to the Robin Hood Bay Facility (aka the dump), and I took some pictures with my phone.

Here’s what we threw out.

The dump is not how I remembered it. In my day the dump was called the Robin Hood Bay Landfill, and it was a sea of garbage into which you had to venture.

If desires can be said to have a scent, the place I remember smelled strongly of the desire to be anywhere else. Seagulls loved it, of course, and the danger of being pelted with feces was heightened significantly.

The current “Facility” offers a more pleasant experience. For one, you no longer have to physically enter the landfill. In fact, it’s well outside smelling range, across a road and behind a fence.

Also, there’s now a much greater emphasis on recycling. As you approach the Facility, you’re greeted with a hulking new building sporting the recycling symbol.

Hard to miss.

After that, you drive through a parking lot with a row of bins on one side. Each bin is labeled with the type of waste it’s meant to contain. Visitors sort their garbage into these themselves.

Most of our load was considered “Yard Waste.”

Dad cautioned me against being too friendly with the Yard Waste sign, suggesting I might get mistaken for yard waste.

Clearly, Dad’s done this before.


An old bicycle was the only thing in our load that wasn’t yard waste. I tossed it in “Metals.”

I like the new focus on recycling. Presumably, that’s the goal of all this sorting–the only bin I saw with non-recyclable waste was simply labeled “Garbage,” which I guess gets added to the landfill in the distance.

The new system is also simple and convenient. Providing the recyclable material actually gets recycled, the only disadvantage I see in comparison to the old system is how good it smells.

If that sounded crazy, I would politely remind you what blog you’re reading.

I think we’re a bit too removed from our waste. In retrospect, my childhood trips to the dump with my Dad were highly educational–they leant realism to the fact that when we throw shit out it doesn’t just disappear. In fact, waste and pollution are seriously damaging the Earth’s ecology, which will almost certainly lead to instability (if not disaster) in the coming decades.

Our sense of smell has a powerful capacity for facilitating memory. I’ll never forget the rancid stench of the landfill. It comes back to me sometimes, when I’m about to throw something out,  and reminds me what a crucial decision that is.

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