Friday, February 8, 2008

Talking trash?

I recent took a class of CalArts students to the Chiquita Canyon Landfill. It was quite an experience... Some of the more interesting facts: The landfill receives between 5000 and 6000 tons of trash per day. Yes, that's per day! The nearly 600-acre site is outfitted with a complex network of piping that allows the methane gas released from the garbage to be burned by an enormous furnace, which reduces the pollutants released into the air. The landfill is currently in the process of building an facility that will use the burning of methane gas to produce electricity. I was struck in particular by the construction of landscape by the refuse. You could see that the process of "disposing" of the waste was essentially about digging giant pits lined with black plastic and creating layers of waste which eventually morph into a hill-like landscape. My students were disappointed that the falconer had gone home for the day... apparently many landfills use birds to deter gulls from congregating.

There is lots of interesting thinking about trash available... A couple of examples are Heather Rogers work from a few years ago The Hidden Life of Garbage. The film and the book are both excellent. Here is an interview from alternet. Also, Errant Bodies contributor Jennifer Gabrys has written some excellent articles on electronic waste. Check out her website for details.

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