One of the major headaches of living in a rural location is trash disposal. Back in the good ol' days, every little village and hamlet around here had its own dump, a totally unsanitary, unlined, and unsupervised landfill (usually an old gravel pit) that the locals dumped everything and anything into, from dead appliances to household garbage. Those local dumps were fun for scavengers, but an environmental hazard in the long run. Sooner or later, chemicals leaking out of that trash would find its way into local aquifers. So states started regulating dumps -- the small local ones vanished first, then the larger ones, and we're now to the point where one landfill in Ontonagon County handles trash from a multi-county area. This presents some problems for those of us who live far, far away from the landfill and have no local trash pickup.
Our personal solution, such as it is, has been to compost anything compostable, flatten metal cans and toss them into a junker that's eventually going to a scrap metal yard, wash glass bottles and eventually bring them to a recycling center, and burn anything burnable. End result is that it's taken us over a year to fill one 30-gallon trash bag with trash that doesn't fit into any of the above categories, stuff like burnt out lightbulbs and a dead coffeemaker. So today we're taking that one 30-gallon bag down to Eagle River, and it'll end up on the curb there. Alternatively, we could drive into town here and put it on the Arvon Transit & Disposal truck, but I can never remember which days and times the garbage truck is at its designated pickup points.
I have been thinking about trash a lot lately, especially after seeing an article in the L'Anse Sentinel about a Michigan law that recently went into effect: it is now illegal to incinerate any trash other than paper outdoors . Apparently outdoor burn barrels are a significant source of toxins and carcinogens in the air -- translation: burning plastic milk jugs and styrofoam meat trays is now illegal. It hit me while reading the article that if we were to strictly observe the law, our less than 1 trash bag per year going to a landfill would climb to multiple bags per month. It also hit me that those of us who live in remote locations are going to find a loophole pretty damn fast -- and of course there is one. It is now illegal to use something like this:
It occurs to me, too, that, compared to Texas, rural Michigan is pretty darn civilized when it comes to burning trash. We at least put it in barrels instead of just raking it into the roadside ditches and burning it there.