The approach of Earth Day reminds all of us at Climate Mama why we do and should treasure all of the
incredible natural beauty and unique wonders we find in two special places we call home, the US and Canada. The freedom of choices, expression and recognition of the importance of personal freedom and human rights are examples that these countries set for the entire world. We appreciate the importance of the abundance of natural resources and the opportunities that come from the “immenseness” of these special places.
And where are we going with this you are wondering…. Well, unfortunately, all of these freedoms and natural wonders also allow us to effectively “hide” the garbage we produce so effectively that we don’t see it. Out of sight, out of mind…yet, with the average North American producing 4.5 lbs of waste every day, landfills are filling up and it is getting more expensive, and requiring further and longer hauling trips, just to “hide” our garbage. As most of our “garbage” these days sits and rots in landfills, often with little or no air, this creates limited opportunities for decomposition; polluting the land that is the “landfill” often for generations to come, and in many cases the air and water near by as well. Remember Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff. We all want to forget where all that “stuff” goes when it leaves our house or we no longer have a use for it, but we need to remember and be reminded that the “stuff” does go somewhere when it leaves our home.
You know that saying, NIMBY, Not In My Backyard. No one wants a landfill in his or her backyard! Or do they? Imagine that your garbage leaves your house and is delivered to a location that looked like a “sculpture,” a piece of art, a well designed building, visible for all to see. The garbage is then “captured” the waste “harnessed” and used to heat your home, producing no pollution, or greenhouse gas emissions and reusing your waste in a productive manner. Science fiction, sounds like it, but in this case it is reality. This is in fact happening in hundreds of towns and cities in Europe every day. On a continent where energy costs are higher than in North America, space is limited and innovation is in full swing, people are thinking about where their garbage goes and they are happy to have it “in their back yard;” happy to be a part of the climate change and renewable energy solution. According to a Times of India article: With all these innovations, Denmark now regards garbage as a clean alternative fuel rather than a smelly, unsightly problem. And the incinerators, known as waste-to-energy plants, have acquired considerable cachet as communities like Horsholm vie to have them built. In Danish city of Harsholm 80% of heating and 20% of electricity are derived from burning trash! In a New York Times article on April 13, 2010 Elizabeth Rosenthal tells us that: Denmark now regards garbage as a clean alternative fuel rather than a smelly, unsightly problem. And that across Europe there are over 400 such plants, with communities across Europe vying to have them built. Do you know how many are on stream or planned in the US…ZERO….Why is that do you think?