I am unlike many people, I like to think, in that I spend a lot of time thinking about garbage - not with any real sense of outrage over how much garbage we humans generate, but more as to its aesthetic qualities.
I like bagging it up and racing out at dawn just as the garbage truck cruises through the alley. I often take it myself to the transfer station, where I enjoy the sight of all those pigeons strutting around. And I've always been fascinated by the fact that much of what we know of earlier societies comes from investigations of their garbage heaps. I imagine in the far future, archeologists will learn a lot about us from examining our garbage.
But enough about me - and more about my garbage.
The garbage that I personally generate is handled by myself, the City of Cranbrook and the Regional District of East Kootenay. My garbage eventually makes its way to the Central Subregion Landfill, 12 kilometres from Cranbrook, where it is combined with your garbage, oh neighbours of mine. The Central Subregion Landfill, by the way, is one of three in the East Kootenay, and services Cranbrook, Kimberley and environs.
The RDEK has reported that altogether, dear neighbours, we generated more than 36,000 cubic metres of garbage in 2011 for the Central Subregion Landfill, where it is buried.
At first, it was hard to wrap my head around this figure, but as it turns out, 36,000 cubic metres of garbage which would make a cube about 108 feet high, deep and wide. This cube would fit nicely on to one half of the soccer field by Mount Baker Secondary School, with room to walk around it.
Or if you stacked nine elephants (African) on top of each other, that would be how high the pile of garbage would be, that you and I generated last year.
Or, if you wanted to haul all that garbage away to Vancouver in one glorious convoy, that convoy would be made up of 4,500 dump trucks. The garbage itself weighs 25,923 metric tonnes.
The RDEK estimates there are more than 3.16 million cubic metres of air space remaining at the Central Subregion Landfill, after the incorporation of 2011's 36,000 cubic metres (actually, 36,674.48). Thus, going by an estimated 78-year lifespan, there are approximately 68 years of operation remaining at this King of East Kootenay garbage dumps.
Anything could happen during this time. For instance, I might be able to dramatically cut down the amount of garbage I generate. Think of that.
But really, that seems to be the way it's trending. Good for us. In 1998, they buried 29,772 metric tonnes of solid waste. So that's a savings of almost 4,000 metric tonnes between then and 2011.
It should be pointed out that the 36,000 cubic metres were after recyclables were taken out. We recycled 3,808 metric tonnes in 2011.
Enough about my garbage. Stay tuned next week for an in-depth look at the sewage I generate.