A visit to the landfill

The last week of October, the Lyon County Environmental Department did something unique. We took over 250 schoolchildren and teachers to the landfill. Many of you might be thinking right now, why in world would we do something like that? We simply wanted to show the students where “away” is. As in, when you go to throw something “away,” where eventually their trash ends up. This is very important not only for the school children to see but to have an understanding of what happens when trash is thrown away. This is something that we all think very little about. We have such efficient trash services and landfill operators in Lyon County and the surrounding areas that we don’t have to think very much about it. This is such a good topic to talk about the month of November because this month there is also America Recycles Day.

The students and teachers had so many questions about how many loads of garbage come into the landfill each day (about 40-50) to how the landfill is built (it is made in a very special way to keep chemicals out of the groundwater) to why are all of those seagulls out at the landfill (they are looking for food). We traveled through the landfill on a bus tour and showed them all of the things that they could see about how the landfill works. The concept of a landfill has not changed a whole lot over the years. We have come a long way from the Romans throwing their trash on the floor in their homes to fast forward to New York City throwing their trash out into the street during the early years of the development of that city. Could you imagine if we did that nowadays? Even though they probably didn’t have a word for recycling in those days, they certainly didn’t throw things away that were still useful. I would hazard to say that they were more about the reusing part of reducing, reusing and recycling. Archeologists have found that there are many pots and dishes that were pretty beat up before they decided to send them to the trash during the Roman times.

The landfill is a pretty special place. It is something that encompasses so much of our daily lives but yet it is something that just sits in the back of our mind, if at all. If you are not aware, we have eight counties that are bringing their trash to the Lyon County Regional Landfill. The cost of building new cells compounded by the cost to have land to build those cells make it all the worthwhile to keep things out of the landfill that can otherwise go elsewhere. It is so easy to recycle a pop can versus having to dig one up in 600 years to get at those same resources. A recycled pop can will be back on the shelf, as a pop can, in about 60 days. A pop can that is thrown into the landfill will sit there 600 years before it starts to deteriorate.

America Recycles was Nov. 15, but we should be recycling each and every day, as much as we possibly can. There are so many reasons why we should be recycling that they outnumber the reasons why not to. As I stood on the bus, talking with these highly educated school children, they made it quite clear to me that they know all about recycling. I was very impressed. I was also impressed about their concern that we, as adults, are not using up all of the resources before they have a chance to grow up and join us in the adult world. If you need a reason why to start recycling, or why to keep recycling, just look at your children or those who pass you by on the street when they are walking to or from school each day. They are reason enough.

We have wonderful facilities and knowledgeable people that can assist you in disposing of your unwanted or recyclable materials. There are several places that you can go to for more information. The Lyon County Website is located at http://www.lyonco.org/env or visit the Lyon County Facebook page. To reach the Lyon County Environmental Department, please call 507-32-8210. We are open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and every second Saturday of the month from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. We are open over the noon hour. The Lyon County Landfill is located south of Marshall near Lynd. The hours for the landfill are Monday-Friday 6 a.m.-4 p.m. and every Saturday from 7 a.m.-noon.