Wow, I have so much exciting stuff to write about I don’t even know where to start… so, to take the easy way out, I decided to post some pictures from ecology lab from the past two weeks.
Two weeks ago, our group traveled to the UW Arboretum to learn about prairies, Wisconsin ecosystems and see some wild turkeys! We debated the usefulness of trying to remove invasive species from natural habitats and worked on identifying some trees and birds. Mostly, it was just a good change to be outside and explore with some good people.
Our TAs, Lisa and Samuel, talked about this fire-resistant, prairie tree for so long, that they told us to go ahead and give it a hug!
This week, the group went to one of Dane County’s landfills. It was pretty amazing to see all the garbage – especially the plastic bags, which our guide explained take many, many years to break down. He discussed DNR requirements for protecting the ground and the underlying layers of the landfill to prevent the spread of lecheate (toxic fluid chemicals that drip off the waste and enter into the groundwater or other nearby ecosystems).
He said that on days when neighbors complain about the smell, they come out with a chemical-water mixture and can make the landfill smell like fruits! The last time it happened he said they used grape. “We’re good neighbors!” he said.
This particular landfill is almost out of space. The grass in the foreground is old trash areas that have been covered when they reached capacity. Our guide said this “land” had compacted 14 feet Since the time it was covered.
At the end of his talk, he explained that groups come here and look disgusted and plug their noses, but he said, “if you’re so disgusted you have to realize it’s you who makes this garbage. We just take care of it.” When dealing with huge piles of reusable or recyclable goods, he emphasized the importance of something you learned in first grade: reduce, reuse, recycle. He told a story of how a bike manufacturer dropped off 100s of brand new bicycles and demanded that they be compacted right away so no one would take them from the landfill. When asked why they were dumping them, the man explained that the tread on the front and back tires didn’t match and it didn’t “make sense” to invest the time and money to change them all.
It made us all think about our impact and especially focus on ways that we can reuse (fix, restore, wash, etc) and reduce our impacts.
Something to think about. Especially when No Impact Week is only a few days away!