Today's question started me wondering if we mightn't be better off mining our landfills and increasing our investments in recycling. Have you looked at any of the documentation for the proposed PolyMet NorthMet mining project? Have you noticed the ratio of waste to ore ("... the metal content is roughly .75%, combined , for copper, nickel, and various precious metals.")? We throw away and abandon too much, too quickly. I have doubts we can last until Star Trek technology saves us.
abandoned farm house
Photo by J. Harrington
What facilities in your area accept universal hazardous waste?
Chisago County lists Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites and the Items Accepted / Rejected at the County's household hazardous waste facility. The county's web page adds a very nice touch by providing information on where to dispose of items, such as ammunition and automotive batteries, not accepted at the facility. Of the four EPA-listed universal hazardous wastes, all are accepted at the county facility or listed in the county's information of disposal sites.
Photo by J. Harrington
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, in partnership with metropolitan counties, provides for hazardous waste from commercial generators. The nested hazardous waste management framework, from federal, through state to county, seems to fit fairly well with the bioregional tenets for
- Bioregion governance is autonomous, democratic and employs culturally- sensitive participatory decision-making processes.
- Political and cultural legitimacy are measured by the degree to which a steward achieves social and ecological justice, and ecosystem-based sustainability.
- Intricate networks of federation will be woven on continental, hemispheric and global bases to ensure close association with governments, economic interests and cultural institutions in other bioregions.
The Waste Carpet
No day is right for the apocalypse,if you ask a housewife in TalkingRock, Georgia, or maybe Hop River,Connecticut. She is opening a plastic bag.A grotesque parody of the primeval muckstarts oozing out. And behold,the plastic bag is magic;there is no closing it. Soapin unsoftened water, sewage, asbestoscoiled like vermicelli, Masonite shavings,a liquefied lifetime subscriptionto The New York Times delivered all at once.Empty body stockings, limp, forlorn,like collapsed lungs. A blithering slurof face creams, an army of photocopiestravelling on its stomach of acronyms,tooth paste tubes wrung rigid and dry.Also, two hundred and one tonsof crumpled bumpers wrapped in insuranceclaims, slag, coal dust, plastic trimmings,industrial excrementa. Lake Erie is returningour gifts.
At first she thought she had wonsomething. Now it slithers through the house,out windows, down the street, spreadingeverywhere but heading, mostly, west.Maybe heading is the wrong word,implying shape and choice. It tookthe shape of the landscapeit rippled across like the last blanket.And it went west because the way lay openonce again: not the same fecund rugthe earth grew when white people scrapedtheir first paths to the Pacificacross the waves of the inland grasses.
Outside Ravenswood, West Virginia,abandoned cars shine in the sunlike beetlebacks. The ore it tookto make the iron it took to make the steelit took to make the cars, that orewould remember the glaciers if it could.Now comes another grinding, but not—thanks to our new techniques—so slow.The amiable cars wait stilly in their pasture.Three Edsels forage in the southeast cornerlike bishops of a ruined church.There are Fords and Dodges, a Mercuryon blocks, four Darts and a Pierce Arrow,a choir of silenced Chevrolets.And, showing their lapsed trademarksand proud grilles to a new westwardexpansion, two Hudsons, a LaSalleand a DeSoto.
I was hoping to describethe colors of this industrial autumn—rust, a faded purple like the dustyskin of a Concord grape, flaking moss-green paint with primer peekingblandly through, the garish macho redsinsurance companies punish, the greys(opaque) and silvers (bright), the snob colors(e.g. British Racing Green), the two-tonecombinations time will spurn like roadkill(1957: pink and grey), cornflowerblue, naval blue, royal blue, stark blue, trueblue, the blacker blue the diver seesbeneath him when he plumbs thirty feet—but now they are all covered,rolling and churning in the lastaccident, like bubbles in lava.
And now my Cincinnati—the hillsabove the river, the lawn that drainedtoward Ricwood Ave. like a small valley of uncles,the sultry river musk that slidlike a compromising note through my bedroom window—and indeed all Cincinnati seethes. The vatsat Proctor & Gamble cease their slickcongealing, and my beloved birthplaceis but another whorl of dirt.
Up north near Lebanon and Troy and Rosewood,the corn I skulked in as a boylays back its ears like a shamed dog.Hair along the sow’s spine rises.The Holstein pivots his massive headtoward where the barn stood; the spreading stainhe sees is his new owner.
What we imagined was the fire-storm,or, failing that, the glacier.Or we hoped we’d get off easy,losing only California.With the seismologists and mysticswe say the last California ridgecrumble into the ocean.
And we were read with elegies:
O California, sportswearand defense contracts, gasses that inducedeference, high school girlswith their own cars, we wantedto love you without pain.
O California, when you were moored to uslike a vast splinter of melon,like a huge and garish gondola,then we were happier, althoughwe showed it by easy contempt.But now you are lost at sea,your cargo of mudslides and Chardonnayslost, the prints of the old movieslost, the thick unlighted candles of the redwoodssnuffed in advance. On the ocean floorthey lie like hands of a broken clock.
O California, here we come,quoting Ecclesiastes,ruinous with self-knowledge.
Meanwhile, because the muck won’t stopfor lamentation, Kansas succumbs.Drawn down by anklets of DDT,the jayhawk circles lower and lowerwhile the sludge moils and crests.
Now we are about to lose our voiceswe remember that tomorrow is our echo.O the old songs, the good days:bad faith and civil disobedience,sloppy scholarship and tooth decay.Now the age of footnotes is ours.Ibid, ibid, ibid, ibid, ibid.
While the rivers thickened and fishrose like vomit, the students of waterstamped each fish with its death date.Don’t let a chance like this go by,they thought, though it went byas everything went by—towersof water flecked by a confettiof topsoil, clucked tongues, smugprayers. What we paid too much forand too little attention to,our very lives, all jumblednow and far too big in aggregateto understand or mourn, goes by,and all our eloquence places itsweight on the spare word goodbye.
Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.