The English language has lots of words. I think it is important that we try to use them correctly and if the muses strike, poetically.

In the past, city administration made a point of calling people who went to the dump to pick up things, scavengers. They did this on purpose, because the word scavenger has unsavory connotations. So, in effect city administration, at the time, was trying to belittle, mock and discredit its citizens who went to the dump to salvage items. Hence, I would on occasion refer to the city as the Evil Empire. I much prefer the more accurate and appropriate term salvagers, because they were salvaging and saving perfectly good things from being destroyed. It also helps to reduce people’s cost of living in the North, which is an added bonus. So, the fine art of salvaging stuff is a truly noble activity in our society and land of waste.

If humans live in one spot for a long period of time, they inevitably have stuff to throw away. They would often throw these unwanted items into a pile at the edge of a small town or village. It would build up and after many years archaeologists would end up studying these old, ancient and prehistoric piles, or middens. The word kind of sounds nice, until you learn that it comes from the Danish language and means muck or dung heaps. Once humans started farming and keeping livestock, they had a lot of muck and dung to take care of as well as their usual garbage.

When I was a kid, they called garbage dumps landfills or added insult to injury by calling them sanitary landfills. There was nothing sanitary about them and it still horrifies me that humans are filling the land with garbage. Why they do this still baffles me? We only have so much land, so why would you fill it with garbage or worse yet dump garbage and sewage into our waterways. It is a very short-sighted practice that, in the long term, could turn deadly.

In the west garbage dumps are called nuisance grounds, for some unknown reason. Perhaps people think it is a nuisance to take their garbage to them. In England, they are called tips. Probably because the trucks tip out the garbage there. Some places call their dumps the summit because it is the highest place around. A real look out spot just like our dump.

Now think about Grand Cayman Island. It is a Caribbean Island primarily known as the playground of the rich and famous and one of the world’s big tax havens. It is a small island that produces a lot of garbage and the highest hill is their garbage dump, known locally as Mount Trashmore. Most of the island is not much above sea level, so if the water rises or a tsunami comes, then everyone will have to rush to the top of this mountain of trash. That is funny and also very sad at the same time.

In some countries the dumps are enormous and poor people live around them and salvage what they can in order to survive. Occasionally one of these mountains of garbage collapses and people are killed in an avalanche of garbage. It seems to happen somewhere on the planet every year. It is rather sad that garbage avalanches are killing people.

Our dump is called the Solid Waste Management Facility. That is a pretty fancy name for what is basically a dump and that is what most of us just call it. Like most modern dumps, it contains a whole lot more then just garbage.

Perhaps the city should think of renaming or re-branding it. It could become known as The Yellowknife Midden. A place where there is no garbage because everything is salvaged, reused, re-purposed, repaired, recycled, composted or burnt for heat.

Now wouldn’t that look good on a big billboard “The Yellowknife Midden, a garbage dump with no garbage.” Tourists would love it and reporters from across the nation would flock to see it.

But for now, I guess I will see you at the dump.

Leave a comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.