One man’s trash

The dump.

City girl lands in bush Alaska. So, when’s trash day?

I’m not really that clueless. So, how does the trash get to the dump? There is a plywood box with a hinged lid by the end of our house. We take the trash out, carefully tied, to the box until there is about a truckload’s worth of trash. When we first unpacked, the trash accumulated quickly. I am pleased to say it doesn’t pile up as quickly any more. When we have a truckload, we get the key to the school’s truck, fill the back and drive out to the dump, which is about two miles away. We back in as far as we can, dump everything and then (my favorite part!) we light it on fire!

The dump is interesting. Archeologists find so much information about ancient peoples in dumps. The same could be said here. There are thousands of pop cans (up here we say “pop” not “soda”). I have seen different animal skins and all kinds of appliances. We burn everything here. If it doesn’t burn, it will rust or disintegrate eventually (in theory). There are two big incinerators. Relics of someone’s good idea that also has been dumped. The thing that was most out of place was an aged, rusted shopping cart. I can’t imagine how and why that came to Shishmaref.

As far as our contributions to the trash, I have noticed we are not producing much. In Sacramento, we had the smallest trash can available and only filled that halfway every week. We recycled and composted everything. We knew up here that we couldn’t recycle or compost. We were resigned to live with the idea that we would be creating way more trash. Something interesting has happened. Since we bake our own bread and cook everything from scratch, we don’t use packaged items. We reuse ziplock bags and containers to reduce our trash. We rarely drink pop. It seems we are producing about the same amount of trash as we were in Sacramento.

5 thoughts on “One man’s trash

  1. More people should write about trash and dumps. I agree many facets of the topic (and dumps) are interesting to consider. I have an early childhood memory of snooping around an old dump in the Sierras looking for antique glass bottles (we were successful). But, it took until much later in life to understand that out of sight, and out of mind, doesn’t mean gone. So, the photo and text here are compelling. Of course the bike caught my eye, well the snow too, but garbage as well: how much we produce and how we dispose of it, is indeed a cultural phenomenom. And THAT makes it interesting.

    • Glad you liked the post. We’ve always thought the shot of the bike was interesting and unique. Your comments take me (Jack) back to days in Pennsylvania where, once in a while, we’d stumble on a very old dump out in the woods and find antique glass bottles of all description – some with rotted corks still in them!

      • Yes, it does take me back too. I can still smell the Ponderosa pines that were shading us from the late summer sun as we sifted through the grit of the granitic Sierra soil in search of old bottles. Amazing how those memories got triggered by one wonderful little blog post about garbage in Alaska! Thanks.

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