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Check out this fascinating (and wonderfully discursive) piece — with lots of great photos — about a topic that most of us never think about: a landfill.  Geoff Manaugh & Nicola Twilley describe their tour of the largest active landfill in the U.S., the Puente Hills site near Los Angeles.

It’s not just that most of us don’t think about landfills.  Most of us spend very little time thinking about any part the physically massive and logistically complex systems that we have developed to deal with our trash — to take it away from our homes and workplaces, and put it some place that is (or was at one point) considered acceptable.  The modern landfill is a marvel.  It’s a testament to the people who run these systems that we don’t have to think about them.

This article is a useful reminder that all that trash doesn’t just go “away.”  It goes to some place in particular, and there are costs to that.  I don’t think anybody believes that a landfill is the highest and best use of any piece of land. The fact remains that they are necessary uses of land.

The article is also a useful reminder that we all play a small part in creating landfills, and that we should be doing what we can to stop them from growing — to make this use of land a little less necessary.  Recycling matters, and so does making small choices every day that cut down on the amount of landfill material we generate.  JouleBug has many badges and dozens of pins that can help you make those choices.

If you’ve been looking for some extra motivation to earn those badges & pins, consider the landfill.