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WSU/Pend Oreille Extension introduced the Sense of Place series in 1999, with a focus on place-based stewardship education. Since 2001, a partnership with the Kalispel Tribe of Indians Natural Resources Department (KNRD) has supported this newsletter and allowed us to expand class offerings through EPA funding. Further staff support comes through Renewable Resources Extension Act (RREA). Our newest partner, sponsor of the Rain Garden Challenge, is the Pend Oreille Conservation District. Many thanks to our partners and to you, our readers, for your continued enthusiasm for "digging" into the natural history and culture ofthis part of the world.

Where is "Away?"

by Carol Mack

What happens when you throw something away? In Pend Oreille County, it is launched on a 250-mile trip. Last month, August 2008, we shipped 35 truckloads of garbage from our county, each truck carrying a 20-25 ton load. Our trash travels by truck from our three county transfer stations to Spokane, where it is loaded onto railcars. Then it heads west to the Roosevelt Regional Landfill in Klickitat County. Once the garbage reaches the 2,545-acre site, it is buried in a lined and sealed pit, closely monitored to protect groundwater and air quality.

Currently it costs us over $1000 per truckload of trash for transport fees alone. When we factor in all the other expenses, it costs the county almost a nickel a pound to get rid of our garbage—a cost passed on to us whenever we take our garbage to the “dump.” If we divert a hundred pounds of leaves, grass clippings, or kitchen waste into the compost bin, we save five bucks immediately. Same goes for all the plastic, glass, cardboard, metal, and paper that we recycle instead of throwing “away.” Beyond the dollar savings at the transfer stations, the many benefits of recycling include conserving natural resources, preventing water and air pollution, reducing energy use, saving wildlife habitat, creating jobs, and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

When all compostables and recyclables are removed from the solid waste stream, the stuff that is left provides an interesting display of the detritus of modern life, including an inordinate amount of food packaging. Buying locally and in bulk can reduce even this. (Or, perhaps it’s time to try growing your own food—see our list of gardening classes this fall!) Accumulating garbage is unavoidable in this day and age, but the cost to dispose of it will certainly continue to rise. It is commonly estimated that about 60% of the rubbish we currently throw away could be recycled. Maybe if we all worked at it, by next August, twenty fewer trucks would need to make the journey from here to “away.”

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