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Landfill Mountain

Each day when I drive in to work the landscape racing past my window changes just a bit. A discerning eye and some knowledge of the local area are required to fully understand. Sometimes it helps to take a different route for a while and return with a fresh eye; like the parent who doesn’t notice her child has grown, while Auntie remarks, quite animatedly, how much the tot has changed since her last visit. I am referring to Landfill Mountain (I must be important because I have named a geographical landmark!).

Landfill Mountain is situated at 49° 5’ 54” N, 123° 1’ 17” E, in the southwest tip of Canada, and a short drive northwest of the Canada/US border. I admit to giving Landfill Mountain somewhat of a misnomer. There are no jagged peaks or distinguishing features such as soaring evergreens, blooming mountain meadows, or even the bare patches of diseased or logged forest that we here in the Pacific Northwest have become accustomed to. It is barren, flat, and a vapid, green in colour. Yet, it is a mountain still. It is taking up a lot of space and it is growing.

Of course, Landfill Mountain is filled with garbage. Years and years of endless spring and fall weekend line-ups worth of garbage. And to be sure, it is one of the smaller mountains of it’s kind (i.e. not God’s creation) in the world. The largest collection of trash in the world is actually not a landfill at all. It’s a swirling mass of plastic and debris approximately the size of Africa (incredible, but true!) reducing the visible surface of the North Pacific Ocean. Until its closure about 10 years ago, the Fresh Kills Landfill in New York was the world’s largest landfill. It’s tallest peak was 25 meters taller than the Statue of Liberty. Seriously.

By comparison the mountainous view from my car window is almost a non-event. But there is no beauty in landfills. Still we do need them, don’t we? I’d rather see masses of garbage growing skyward than continent-sized non-degradable waste clogging our marine systems, wouldn’t I…?

As a member of a junk family, I understand the need for landfills, of course. But it’s time to tame the growing monsters! If we all lived by the following basic laws of disposal I think our landscapes would retain more of their natural qualities.

• Recycle what you can
• Donate what you can
• Share what you can
• Compost what you can
• Dispose of what you must
• And always respect your environment

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Tania Venn is Director, PR for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. Her other responsibilities include leading the PR team for WOW 1Day! Painting and You Move Me. In her spare time Tania enjoys the outdoors, hiking in summer and skiing and snowshoeing in winter. Tania can be found on Google+ and LinkedIn.