Hazzardous Waste

Yesterday morning I went to the Hazardous Waste Disposal Site in Cold Canyon Landfill that’s only open 11-3 on Fridays and Saturdays. The cardboard box of half-filled bottles and cans stashed in the garage–Diazanon, Malathion, ant-killer, Miracle-Grow–got soggy from the rain that seeped between the concrete wall and floor during last week’s storms. I had felt good about not using all these poisons since converting to native plants several years ago, but I never finished cleaning house because I didnt want to get near the toxic stuff any more.

I put on my gloves, transferred the frightening mess to a plastic carton and drove out Broad Street under a fresh sky brightened with puffy clouds. At Buckley Road a big pickup turned onto the highway in front of me stuffed with trash and sporting a huge confederate flag fluttering on a pole fastened to the tailgate. Concentrating the winter sunlight, its scintillating red field dominated the beautiful Edna Valley landscape and steadily increased my irritation. My head filled with challenges: “So you’re a big fan of slavery?” “You’re celebrating traffic in human beings.” “How about if you were the property rather than the owner?” When the driver moved into the left lane as if to turn on Corbett Canyon Road, I fantasized giving him the finger as I drove by but thought better of it as he moved back in front of me, clearly sharing the destination of the dump. I imagined the hostility and pain that might have been felt by an African-American staffing the landfill gate.

I followed the signs leading toward the shed where the poisons were to be left and watched the attendant dressed in white coveralls lifting a 48 inch television set on his forklift and dropping it with a crash onto a mountain of electronic detritus filling up an enormous dumpster. Five years ago somebody must have paid thousands of dollars for that half-ton item, giving it pride of place in the family home. Now it was just another piece of junk that needed to be processed at government expense. I remembered my earlier visit here with the old monitors and printers accumulated in my garage that no recycler could handle. The day before, at the Sierra Club office I discovered that installing the Quickbooks software necessary to handle our complicated non-profit financial statements required an upgrade to the operating system, which in turn required replacing the computer we had purchased only three years ago.

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