A Forest Grows in Brooklyn


A miracle has happened in Brooklyn, New York! To most Brooklyn residents, Fountain Avenue Landfill was seen as a dump.  There have been many complaints on how the landfill causes health problems and was an unpleasant sight for people who drove or walked by the dump.  Recently New York City's Environmental Protection Agency and New Jersey's Dept. of Transportation decided to start a $200 million project to clean up the Pennsylvania Fountain Avenue landfills.



The city has taken what used to be a wasteland filled with trash and construction debris and covered it with " a layer of plastic, then put down clean soil and planted 33,000 trees and shrubs at the two sites." The planting started in 2004 and ended in 2008.  93% of the trees and shrubs have survived.  John McLaughlin, who directs the ecological rehabilitation of the Brooklyn landfills for the Department of Environmental Protection claims, "In a decade, the trees might be 20 to 25 feet tall."



The Department of Environmental Conservation has high hopes that by next spring the landfills, with ocassional health precautions, will be open for public access.   One Starrett City resident, Mr. Shelley, imagines "an amphitheater for concerts, bicycle paths and fishing areas, perhaps within a handful of years." The EPA has given Mr. Shelley a "new dream."



Who would have thought that a park would be able to grow on top of a landfill?  There have also been several spottings of birds in the area. In this case, a combination of funding, innovative ideas, and hard work created something beautiful out of something that was thought to be used up or useless. As we start running out of virgin land, our old model of  "use it till it's used up, and then move on" is also reaching its end point. We need to reduce our use of throwaway goods, certainly, but there is an increasing movement of those re-examining trash itself, mining it for re-use and for meaning. Seen in this way, the linear model that sets all goods on a one-way course towards a trashy end in the landfill becomes a circle more like the way nature itself handles waste.



Still, rather than adding trash to landfills and leaving the government to take care of the waste, we ought to come up with ways to reduce waste.  After all, it is zero waste week!



Check out the slide show for pictures of the Brooklyn landfill renovation.





Source: New York Times




Tags: Landfill, Resource use, Trash, Waste

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