Friday, January 23, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
The previous statement may seem cheeky but I truly do believe a significant portion of our society believes it to be true. The reality however couldn't be further from the truth. Most of the debris we toss will actually out live us taking decades, centuries, perhaps even millennia to break down.
Landfills, believe it or not, are designed to slow down the decomposition of their contents. In order to break down, organic matter requires access to air/oxygen yet in a landfill the trash is compacted and sandwiched between numerous layers of clay and sometimes stone to increase landfill space and ultimately the landfill's lifespan.
Oxygen may not be able to reach our discarded belongings however, rainwater can as its gravitational relationship allows it to percolate deep into the many layers of debris. When water mixes with the nasty garbage juices, leachate is created which seeps into the surrounding soil in the form of a Garbage Plume. Plumes can swell rapidly and often will find their way into local water tables. Most new landfills are required to use liners to prevent plumes. The liners can be effective but are far from foolproof.
The reality, though unpleasant, is that our garbage will be around longer than we ourselves will. Let's make a decision now to reduce our own consumption and leave our squanderous ways in the past.
The manangalahig is a scavenger, sorting through trash for recyclables which can be exchanged for a few rupees. The conditions and minimal payback may seem futile but the few rupees they do earn is far more than they would be making farming as they had in the past. And when metro Manila produces on average 6,169 tons of garbage daily you know there is plenty of trash to go arround. Multiply that mass by 364.25 days in a year, and again by 20 years and you can begin to understand how this 130 foot high, 50 acre, 45,000,000 ton mountain grows.The Payatas dump site was home to a tradgic event in the year 2000. Monsoon rains permiated the garbage mountain, which had been piled at a 70º slope, and caused the pile to slide killing hundreds of mangangalahig and their families living at the base of the heap. Exact numbers on the casualties will never be known for sure as the recovery effort was forced to stop days later, when hope had been lost.