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Weird Things You Might Find at the Garbage Dump in Washington DC

March 22, 2019.

You might pay a lot of attention to what you send to the local landfill in your quest to make more environmentally-sound choices, but have you ever thought about what other people might send to the landfill? Among the discarded household garbage bags and cast-off appliances can be some strange and unusual items; learn more about what could be lurking in the nearest landfill.

The Hidden Secrets of a Garbage Dump: Washington DC Edition

While the District of Columbia is relatively small, it’s part of a sprawling metropolitan area that includes more than one landfill. In DC proper, residential waste pickup is managed by the Department of Public Works. Single-family dwellings and apartment buildings with no more than three units may receive pickup once per week or twice per week, depending upon the ward in which they are located.

Much of the waste collected on these days will end up in a landfill, though there is a framework in place to help the city reach a goal of diverting 80% of its waste. Currently, only about 21% of the city’s waste is recycled. The rest, for better or worse, makes its way to either an incineration plant or a landfill.

Once it reaches a landfill, it becomes part of a surprisingly rich and active ecosystem. For most people, the word “landfill” calls up a mental image of rotting trash in a desolate wasteland, but this isn’t quite the case. Despite the toxic chemicals and corrosive substances often shuffled in with the rest of the waste, there is a lot going on inside your nearest landfill.

As garbage decomposes, it releases methane gas, which can be collected and converted to fuel, rather than contributing to climate change as it’s simply released into the air. Millions of bacteria, fungi, nematodes, and other microscopic organisms teem beneath the surface, with the fungi and bacteria doing most of the heavy lifting when it comes to decomposition. The telltale odor of the decomposition process can, in turn, attract a variety of scavenging animals and pests. There’s no shortage of life in the local landfill, despite how surprising that may be when you consider how inhospitable the environment seems.

Unexpected or not, the microorganisms living in a landfill belong there, to some degree. What you might not expect to be picked up and carted away by a garbage truck, however, are garbage cans themselves. Still, in 2014, more than 130 truckloads of municipal waste carts were collected by city workers and compacted. Area residents reported seeing the crushed remains of those plastic bins mixed in with the rest of the garbage, though they were supposed to be sent back to the manufacturer for proper recycling. 

Then there are the things you wouldn’t expect to find connected to a landfill at all, like a city park. Kenilworth Park, however, was known as the Kenilworth Open Burning Landfill when it was closed, buried and seeded with plant life to create a municipal green space. The Kenilworth South site was even known as “Mystery Mountain” among locals for a while, after the National Park Service allowed half a million tons to be dumped there by two contractors in 1997. The gargantuan, secretive debris pile covered more than 15 acres of land and towered 26 feet in the air. Now, it’s slated to become part of the Anacostia River Trail. From methane gasses to bacterial colonies, waste carts marked for recycling to entire city parks, there’s no shortage of secrets at the garbage dump in Washington, DC.

Quick, Easy and Ethical Disposal

Dealing with typical household waste is easy in Washington DC, even if it doesn’t always go where you expect. Larger projects, however, can be very challenging to manage. Bulk trash collection is available for any households who receive Department of Public Works waste collection, but an appointment is required and there are limits on how much can be set out for each scheduled collection date. When you’re facing a tight deadline, waiting for these appointments isn’t always feasible and the majority of bulky items collected will go straight to a landfill. When you’re trying to minimize your environmental impact, this can be more of a deal-breaker than the appointment requirements.

At Jiffy Junk, we know you need quick, easy and efficient methods of disposal for a wide variety of items. We also know you want to dispose of those items as ethically and responsibly as possible. Our teams of experienced, reliable removal techs come to your home or place of business to get rid of almost anything you can imagine in the most environmentally-friendly way possible. We separate any usable items for delivery to local donation centers, so you won’t find your discarded furniture or unwanted, outdated and outgrown clothing in the landfill. Instead, they’ll stay in the community, where they can help those in need. 

Things we can’t donate, we’ll work hard to dispose of in a manner which poses the least amount of environmental risk. We recycle everything possible, even looking for recycling and reclamation programs overlooked by municipal waste management. We do this because we’ve built our entire business model around providing the greenest full-service removal and disposal possible. The work we do to minimize our own environmental impact is passed along to our customers, who can then enjoy their clean spaces without a stain on their conscience.

Our Jiffy Junk professionals do more than haul waste away, though. We’ll uninstall appliances before removal, tear up old carpeting and remove heavy items from where they sit, so you’re never left with the heavy lifting or the stress of maneuvering ungainly items down to the curb. Jiffy Junk manages everything from a few boxes of castoff items to full-scale hoarding mitigation, storage unit cleanout and the final closing of an estate. We even leave your space swept clean and free of any lingering dust bunnies, giving you a fresh, blank slate to start the next part of your journey. 

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