Blog 6 - FE


            Over the last few weeks, I have had to think about the many problems that trash and can create for a society with this alternative reality project.  When I think about trash now, I automatically think about landfills and how there will eventually be no space for trash if our society doesn’t do anything to decrease the amount of trash that enters landfills.  Another thing that comes to mind when thinking about the landfill problem are the more severe problems that those living near the landfill face.

            Perhaps the most obvious problems associated with landfills and those living around them are the sights and smells that go along with the disposal and transportation of trash.  Having to live in a house where you can see an active landfill from your window is not the most appealing situation.  Stepping out of your house every morning you would be forced to smell the vile smells that are associated with trash and you wouldn’t be able to escape the smell until you were far enough away from the source.  In addition, the noises that can be heard early in the morning from the trucks that collect trash can also be very annoying to people.  There have even been rare instances where the toxic leachate from the landfill has leaked out of the landfill and into local water supplies.  Although these problems can be very detrimental to our society, people have adapted to be able to live with these problems. 

            Although many people have adapted to living near landfills, adapting to living in a world where trash is on every street corner is something that I do not want to deal with.  This is why our society needs to continue to develop new technologies that help us reduce the amount of trash that we place in our landfills.  Personally, I don’t want to live in a world like that and I don’t think that anybody else in this world wants to live that way either. 

Journalist for blog 6

Clinton,  The morning light finds Hamilton campus abuzz with life as members of HEAG set up for the 48th annual Green Day. Today, HEAG is revealing its new campus initiative, “don’t waste the waste.” This plan asks students to invest money and time into a communal zipromiter and manpowered, zero emissions, composter. Once purchased with student-raised funds, the zipometer will transform communal trash into methane gas that can power the dark side of campus. Additionally, the compost that will be produced through the labor of the students themselves, will be used at the community farm that now supplies %25 of all Hamilton’s vegetables. In effect, the amount of waste produced by the college will decrease and the trash will be used productively on campus. Professors praise the student’s initiative as Peter Oerlmans states that, “We love to see the students take responsibility for the disposal of their own waste.” Andrew Morrison, yes he still has not graduated, states that HEAG’s program will ask students to make certain sacrifices to benefit the Hamilton community by producing electricity and compost and the larger world by reducing the amount of trash the Hamilton community discards.

 However, HEAG’s ambitious plan is not without critics. Local residents of Rome criticize the college’s attempts to include the local community in its initiative and Hamilton students and administration in general of being, “stuck up snobs.” Concerned citizens point to the fact that most individuals and institutions cannot afford a zipromiter and do not have the manpower, or time to constantly rotate an industrial strength, zero emissions, composter. “I am barely making ends meet as it is”, says Rome resident Jim Smith. “I’m sorry that my mommy and daddy did not have enough money for me to be idealistic.” Anger intensified after a well-intentioned forum hosted by the college where community members stated that they felt they were being talked down to. After this meeting, Rome community members sent a letter to Hamilton College politely informing the college that they did not need, or want the college to tell them how to dispose of their trash. “Just stay on your fricking hill and let us be” stated Rome resident Tim Dohrety.

 Despite this criticism, this reporter fundamentally supports HEAG’s “don’t waste the waste” campaign. Yes, it is expensive to deal with the trash problem in this manner. However, as the residents of Rome pointed out, generally, Hamilton students are very fortunate and have a moral responsibility to use their assets to enact positive change in the world. While Hamilton students must recognize that it is impossible for everyone to take part in HEAG’s ambitious plan due to economic restrictions and that they should never preach down to the communities at the bottom of the hill, it is wrong of Rome resident’s to criticize Hamilton students for trying to make a positive change. Hamilton students are trying to be the change they want to see in the world by making economic and time sacrifices to dispose of their waste in a more responsible manner. This reporter could not be more supportive as students are taking responsibility for their waste disposal to ensure that their trash is disposed of in a sustainable manner. Just think of the progress we have made in these last 6 years. In 2012, Hamilton students did not even admit that there was a problem with their trash relation and a mere six years latter, they were actively working to change the problem their predecessors had ignored.

Trash Synthesizer- what if we don’t get a miracle solution?

Although all of my peers’ blogs were different, many stressed the same fundamental points. Ken, Elizabeth and Mo all set their blogs in worlds where the waste disposal system had collapsed. This illustrates these authors’ belief that the American people’s current relationship to trash is unsustainable and will inevitably fail. Despite this setback, all of these authors believe that humans will endure this development and Mo states that such a crisis would benefit society, as it would force people to be more responsible and discard less. Ken, Elizabeth and Mo all stress the importance of technological developments when discussing how Americans will combat the collapse of the trash collection system. Elizabeth spoke of a technology that transforms trash into methane gas that can be used for power. Ken also discussed the possibility of transforming waste into fuel and also proposed an eCorect technology that reduces the volume of discarded food.  Mr. Click’s argument was greatly strengthened by a quote from Hamilton student and fountain of knowledge, Hans Schulte, who articulated that many Americans would be open to utilizing a technology that would alter the American peoples relationship to trash. The implied aspect of Han’s quote that Ken decided not to discuss was that people would support a technological solution to this problem because it would allow Americans not to alter their materialistic lifestyles.

As stated above, most of the blogs argue that the American landfill system will collapse and that a miracle technology will save humanity. The question that inevitably arises is, what if the technology does not appear? What if our contemporary trash system fails and we don’t have a mechanism to bail us out? While I love Tyler’s optimism when he stressed human “creativity and ingenuity” while discussing bridal trash dresses and the general human relation to trash, I think this scary reality is one that society has to consider. If humanity ended up with vast quantities of trash and nowhere to put it or means to dispose of it, what would happen? Thankfully, we do not know…yet. The only thing that is certain is that we would no longer be able to live the comfortable lifestyles we are accustomed to. As I am sure no one wants to live in a world where we are literally surrounded by trash, society has to take active steps to avoid this future we are quickly approaching. Every human should try to reduce the amount of waste that he or she produces and invest a lot of money in Mo’s company and hope he is as smart as he says he is. Also, if Mo is the last hope for humanity (terrifying), we really need to convince him not to have his business be based out of Nova Scotia as it is in all of our interests for him to have electricity and access to the internet.


Blog Post for 11/2/12 - Journalist


            With the entire village of Clinton and the whole Hamilton College campus living amongst the trash in which they create, everybody has been searching for something that would help reduce the amount of trash that is simply just thrown out onto the street. As each year passes, the trash problem worsens but thankfully over the years people have been coming up with ideas that would help make this problem less intrusive to our everyday lives.  Some people have come up with ideas that many people here at Hamilton have already been using for a while such as composting.  However, there are other ideas such as a waste reducer, called eCorect, which uses waste reduction technology to cut the weight and volume of food waste by 80 – 90%.  Another technology that has been talked about, and is being used by our military, is a green technology that converts waste into fuel for cars and other equipment that runs on fuel. 

            The whole idea behind eCorect is that it will reduce the volume of food waste, which is one of the largest components of the total waste created here at Hamilton, by 80-90% by using waste reduction technology such as pulpers, shredders, hydraextractors, and dehydrators.  Not only do these processes reduce the amount of food waste that is produced but this technology also reduces labor and trash removal costs, improves sanitation and conserves water and energy.  Pat Raynard, the head of Bon Appetit, the company that provides Hamilton College with all of its meals, has been using this technology in all of the dining halls on campus for the last six months.  Raynard praised the technology and said that by using this simple technology, Bon Appetit was able to dramatically reduce the amount of food waste that is created here at Hamilton.  “Many people are not wasting as much food as they used to given our current trash crisis.  However, there will always be food waste and with this wonderful new technology we don’t even come close to producing the same amount of waste that we have in the future,” Raynard said.

            Perhaps the second largest crisis that we are facing not only as a community but as a nation in general is the steepening gas prices.  With the help of the United States Army, we hope to alleviate some of the stress that comes with dealing with these problems.  The army has developed a technology, which they call the Tactical Garbage to Energy Refinery (TGER), which converts all of their waste into fuel of some sort.   The technology does not have a carbon footprint and gives a 30 to one trash reduction rate.  That is, for every 30 cubic yards of trash that is processed by the technology, only one cubic yard of ash is produced.  When asked about the use of this technology here on campus, my roommate Hans Schulte, who drives a big SUV, had this to say.  “I am all for it. Given the problems that we as a community are going through today with trash and the climbing gas prices, I would love to see our community and many others around the globe have a technology like this that could help solve the two biggest problems in the world today.”

            These two technologies may be the key to our future here on Earth.  If we want to live on this Earth in a way that is comfortable we must replace the ways in which we live now with other ways.  These two technologies are just the beginning but by replacing our current lifestyles with these technologies, we would definitely be on the right path. 




Blog 4: Citizen


            Living in a world where there are no landfills to hold our trash has been very difficult.  However, I have actually grown to admire the way in which we live now in comparison to the way in which we as a population used to live. As I walk around campus on a daily basis, I no longer see people waste things that they may have done in years past.  No longer do you see people walking around with their Poland Spring bottled water.  Everyone has a bottle that can be reused.  Even I, who used to be the biggest contributor of plastic water bottles to our environment, have switched over to using a reusable bottle. It used to be very common for me to see several students each day here at Hamilton walk around with paper coffee cups but today, it is a rare occasion.  Instead, each student carries around a thermos which can be reused whenever they feel the need to have a cup of coffee. Many of the conveniences of the previous world such as plastic water bottles and disposable cups that we once thought were amazing because they made our lives better, in reality have made our lives worse by putting us in the crisis that we are in today.  Now, we as a school community have no choice but to reuse things whenever we can.

            Ironically, the trash crisis in which we are faced with as a community has made people do their daily chores in a more sustainable way.  For example, many people in the town of Clinton have begun growing their own food in their own personal gardens because they do not want the plastic wrap or other containers in which the food at the supermarket is held in.  The less trash people can create the better.  As a matter of fact, right here on the campus of Hamilton, the campus farm has been made a lot bigger so that commons and other dining halls on campus is able to get almost all of their food from the farm itself and not have to import food from other places. I have especially grown fond of this addition to our campus because it gives our campus a better sense of community. Every week, more and more people are coming out to the farm to help out and many new close friendships have been made.  There are not as many rifts between groups of people because we are all working together to overcome the crisis in which we put ourselves into.

            Overall, life at Hamilton has been much different since we have become faced with the trash crisis. However, the fact that we have become much more sustainable and have come together to create a better sense of community are probably the only positive things to come out of this crisis so far.  People are trying their hardest to not create trash at all.  It is just sad that we are trying to make less of an impact on the Earth now after the crisis has already been thrown in our faces.  Don’t get me wrong, I give people a lot of credit for trying to make the best of the situation but I think the effort is a tad too late.  


Trash and Hamilton


Today President Stewart send out a campus wide email stating that Hamilton College would be removing all trashcans and recycling bins from campus. In a needlessly eloquent manner, the president stated that a distant landfill had been caped making it so that the campus no longer had anywhere to put garbage. Due to this development, the college stated that it would no longer be responsible for the disposal of its students’ trash. President Stewart stated that it was time for, “Hamilton students to act like adults and take responsibility for the disposal of their own waste.” When I first read this email I just laughed. How many adults do you know who dispose of their waste by themselves? Don’t most just leave it by the side of the road for a garbage truck? The more I thought about this ridiculous email the harder I laughed. President Stewart was happy to take care of the problem of trash when there was an easy solution. Now that waste removal would take some effort, she was passing the responsibility on to the students.

 After my initial bought of laughter I started to get angry. My parents pay a lot of money for me to attend Hamilton, couldn’t the college provide me with the basic service of trash disposal? What did the college expect me to do, leave the trash in my room? That is an unacceptable expectation as the room would start to smell in a matter of days. I deserve better.

Over the next couple of days I began to dispose of my trash by leaving it in various locations around my dorm. However, it was clear that I was not the only student doing this as the hallways and common rooms quickly became littered in trash and the entire dorm started to smell. When we asked the janitors if they could remove the trash they shook their heads and stated that waste disposal was no longer one of their responsibilities. It was clear that no one wanted to take responsibility for the trash.

No one said anything or proposed a plan but eventually all the residents of Eels began to place their trash in one distant shower in the basement. Quickly, the rest of Eels cleaned up while this sacrifice zone became covered in tissues, coke cans and water bottles. However, few of the students ever saw the mess being created in this shower so it was easy for them to overlook it.

However, within a week the communal trash can in the shower overflowed. After the effective closure of the new communal dump, there was a wave of confusion as students did not know where to dispose of their trash. They refused to have it in their rooms or dorms as they did not want to see or smell it. Then as a group we arrived at the obvious solution. Outside. We would put the trash outside and just wait for the wind to blow it away. For a month this solution worked great as the wind carried all of our unwanted waste away. To where? We did not know or particularly care. However, the residents of the bottom of the hill ruined our great system. They somehow thought it was unfair that our trash kept blowing into their yards and polluting their environments. Within a week of us putting trash outside they contacted their local representative. After a month of ignoring the calls of Clinton residents, a member of the House of Representatives reluctantly came to Hamilton and told students that while they could no longer dispose of trash outdoors, they should vote for him and he would solve all of their problems in life.

In the end, Hamilton and the surrounding community arrived at an understanding for the disposal of trash. Hamilton students could keep leaving their trash outside and polluting the environment as long as they paid an inconsequential tax. After a lot of argument about whether the tax should be a straight trash tax or a cap and trade system, the Hamilton community decided to adopt a cap and trade system as there were more loopholes. So everything ends up as it should, the school on the top of the hill keeps polluting, the representative from the House of Representatives retired early due to the proceeds of the cap and trade system and the residents of Clinton have received a lot of promises about a better future.

An Angry Citizen

July 21st

Today, the City of Boston sent out a notice that a distant landfill in Western Mass is now full and is being capped. I would not really care if a hundred landfills were being closed except for the fact that the City of Boston is suspending garbage truck service as it has, “no where to put the trash at the moment.” Can you believe this bull? There is no way the government can’t find somewhere to put the trash. Don’t the politicians understand that my house is starting to smell!...After overcoming my initial anger all I could do is just laugh. This is so absurd, not being able to throw out garbage. I wrote my brother in California about this and he thought I was messing with him. I guess this shows how people never think about the technologies in their life until they are broken. I know my friends and I have never talked about where trash really goes. We just assumed it disappeared with the garbage trucks.


July 23rd

            Yesterday the local papers published a bunch of articles by “greenies” stating that the city of Boston had to reduce the amount of trash it produces or else the temporary landfills set up in some of the poorer neighborhoods would be overwhelmed. As a good Bostonian I decided that I should do my part to help so I started bugging my kids to eat all their food and not throw out household items that could be fixed. To be frank, my kids got pissed. “Wow dad, I throw out a half eaten apple I am such a criminal I should be sent to Walpole (Area Maximum Security Prison)” they would say sarcastically. To further darken my mood was a new notice from the City of Boston stating that the City would now have to ship its trash to New Jersey. Fair enough, I don’t really care where the waste goes but the mayor had the nerve to pass a law making us, the people, pay a fee for every pound of trash we throw out. This is ridiculous, it is the 21st century and governments should be able to dispose of their citizen’s trash. All I am asking for is for trash to disappear and stop stinking up my house, is that really too much?


July 29th

I am done with this whole trash situation; I cannot be bothered anymore. On moral grounds I am not paying the fee to have my trash shipped to Jersey, it is ridiculous to make people pay for having trash. However, I am not leaving my trash in the house, it smells terrible. There is an empty alleyway behind my house. If I throw my waste in there the smell shouldn’t reach my house and my trash alone will not be enough to noticeably affect the alley.


August 12th

Unfortunately all my neighbors had the same idea as me and we all threw our trash behind our houses. Now our little alleyway is overflowing with half eaten food and Poland Spring bottles. Additionally, the smell has penetrated all of our houses and our entire block smells like trash. Politicians have talked about passing laws to prohibit the dumping of debris into communal areas and recourses. However, all the experts say that trying to pass such legislation is essentially political suicide as people will not keep the trash in their houses but refuse to pay to ship their trash to Ohio (The landfill in Jersey is already full) so it has to go somewhere. As it is an election year, most politicians have openly stated that they do not want to touch such a controversial issue. Therefore, the status quo will be maintained. We, the people will continue to dump our trash into common areas and resources and hope that an easy solution that requires minimal commitment on our part presents itself. If it doesn’t, well probably just throw away our planet and move to Jupiter in a few hundred years.

American Trash in the 21st Century

By the early 21st century American society had developed a proven strategy for dealing with trash, hiding it. The 21st century American discarded an average of 4.6 pounds of waste a day[1] amounting to approximately 90,000 pounds of trash during a lifetime.[2] Yet no Americans wanted to place this garbage in or by their residences. To hide the debris that everyone produced and nobody wanted, the Americans developed the idea of a landfill. A landfill is an area that is designated for the disposal of unwanted waste. Americans would hide their waste underground and away from the public eye at these sites to trick themselves into believing that their waste had disappeared. However, eventually landfills in America began to fill up as they were overwhelmed by the volume of trash produced by Americans.[3] The fact that landfills were running out of room was very scary to Americas as it showed that trash did not simply vanish after being placed in a dump. At this point Americans had two options, they could recognize that their waste disposal system would eventually collapse or they could send their waste even farther away and buy more time. The 21st century Americans chose to buy more time as they started exporting increasingly large quantities of trash.[4]

 The astute observer will recognize that by transporting their trash further away, 21st century Americans were following the historical president for the progression of waste disposal. Since the age of the cavemen, it is likely that humans have disliked garbage and removed it from their dwelling. However, the technology available to primitive men was very different than the equipment available to 21st century Americans. These more primeval tools made the world appear smaller to cavemen than to Americans as it took longer to travel a given distance and fewer places were accessible. Therefore, cavemen most likely discarded their waste in locations that seemed far removed from their residences to them but relatively close by 21st century American standards. However as technologies advanced, people’s perceptions of the size of the world increased and they were able to physically displace their trash further. Due to the facts that areas that once seemed remote now appeared too close to civilization and that humans physically could move their trash further, waste began to travel even farther from communities. The continuation of this pattern of new technologies allowing individuals to send their garbage further and further away can be observed with the American practice of exporting garbage on freighter barges. This was a troubling relationship as it appeared as if humans could keep sending their trash further away due to advances in technology and could ignore fundamental flaws in their waste disposal systems. If that cycle had not been broken, humans would have turned most of the Milky Way into an enlarged dump.

 Thankfully we have broken the wasteful practice of discarding unwanted trash by the year 2500. In 2400 we developed a technology that rearranges the atoms of any nonhuman entity made of matter. Therefore, we no longer use our machines to send our trash to distant locations in attempts to hide it but use tools to transform it into useful objects. However, we have not entirely overcome the societal shortcoming of simply discarding unwanted goods. Today, children are tested at age 10 for a variety of intellectual, artistic, athletic and theoretical skills. The top 80% of the test takers are allowed to stay on earth and participate in our glorious society. The lowest 20% of test takers are shipped to a distant moon of Jupiter that cannot be seen through a telescope or communicated with. There these unwanted children might have made a civilization of misfits. We are not sure. All we know is that we cannot see them and that they cannot bother us so they are probably doing fine.

[1] “The Problems with Waste”, Toxic Action Center,

[2] “ How much do Americans throw away?”

[3] Brian Palmer, “Go West, Garbage Can! Are we running out of room for our garbage?” (The Green Lantern, 2011)

[4] Craig Harrington, “Important Daily News You Need to Know, Today’s Issue: U.S. Exports”, (Economy in Crisis, 2010) < >

Our daily dose of Pollution


       How could we have let the world come to this? All we see is trash, trash, trash. Everywhere. We have trash heaps on top of other trash heaps, which are made of pieces of older trash! There are a few promising technologies out there to rid our world of the trash we have created, but they seem to be few and far between. The fact of the matter is, we must figure out a way to deal with our trash in a manner which is economical and environmentally friendly, so that we do not destroy the little that remains of the natural world.

       Currently I am working on various technologies with my startup company, SG Technologies (standing for Something Green), one of which is meant to create emissionless, no by-product after initial mining, energy which will be cheap and affordable to the world. However, my eventual goal is to create a technology which will convert trash directly into usable energy, similar to the Delorean in Back to the Future II. Hopefully this will help stem the trash problem we have in place now, and start bringing the environment back to an relatively sustainable status quo.

       This gross inequity in the amount we consume vs the amount the world can sustain stems, from the most part, to the climbing of the Western consumerist lifestyle to the pinnacle of the modern1 world. It is not the fault of one man or one family, but the fact that, by virtue of our detachment from our detritus, we are unable to fully comprehend the far reaching implications of our consuming lifestyles. Our trash, as we see it right now, is virtually meaningless because we cannot see the impact it has on others around the world. Thus, we can shuck the mantle of responsibility onto someone else, because after all, we are simply one person, so what possible difference could our habits make on the world? It is the Tragedy of the Commons2, but instead of using up a resource, we are creating by-products which very few people take responsibility for. A paradigm shift is needed in the way we view each other and the world, or else we are headed for a very, very trashy Earth.




1.  As consumerism spreads, Earth suffers, National Geographic

2. The Tragedy of the Commons, Garret Hardin,, 1243–1248

What to do With Trash?

No one wants trash. Garbage is smelly, visually disgusting, takes up valuable space and often contains dangerous chemicals. However, the average American produces 90,000 pounds of trash in his or her lifetime.[1] This leads to the question of what should society do with the waste no one wants? It has to go somewhere. The average citizen does not care what happens to the trash as long it is taken away and does not end up in his or her literal or figurative backyard. Therefore, Americans are happy to leave their waste by the side of the road and let the garbage trucks take it away. Naïve citizens believe that their responsibility for the trash they produce leaves with the trucks. The saying, “out of sight, out of mind” is truly accurate when describing Americans attitudes towards garbage. Americans have tricked themselves into believing that garbage ceases to exist once it leaves their possession.  

 In reality, garbage has barely begun its journey when it leaves the home where it was originally discarded. From residential neighborhoods, the waste begins long voyages that can end domestically or internationally. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 revolutionized America’s garbage collection system by requiring that landfills be lined with layers of either plastic, clay or a combination of the two.[2] This made the construction and maintenance of landfills more expensive leading to the creation of fewer, mega landfills that trash has to travel farther to reach. Between 1986 and 2009, the number of garbage disposal facilities within the United States dropped from 7,683 dumps to 1,908 landfills.[3] Additionally, increasing quantities of trash are being exported as America is running out of places to hide its waste domestically. As of 2010, America’s largest exports to China were trash and scrap metal.[4] However, this system of concealing the existence of trash by burying it in distant locations cannot last forever. Eventually, the globe will run out of places for new landfills. When this happens, Americans will finally have to acknowledge that our civilization is producing vast quantities of trash with no sustainable plan for disposing of it.

 Americans do not have to wait for the day when society runs out of landfill space to start addressing this looming problem. Concerned citizens can start acting today. The easy solution is to stop producing trash. Close all garbage collection facilities, and force Americans to take responsibility for the disposal of the trash they produce. Such extremes would force Americans to either stop producing garbage, or drastically reduce the amount they discard. This plan is highly unrealistic for a variety of reasons including the fact that whatever politician proposed this would immediately be kicked out of office. However, there are other, more realistic ways to force Americans to take responsibility for the trash they produce. Currently, only 2% of the waste produced in the United States is recycled and few houses have composters.[5] The government could change these facts if it offered more significant economic rewards for composting or recycling. Additionally, garbage trucks could be equipped with scales to weigh a house’s waste. The garbage removal company could then bill houses according to the heaviness of the disposed trash. This would give Americans a hard incentive to reduce the amount of trash they produce.

 However, merely reducing the amount of trash discarded does not change the fundamental problem. Society would still be burying trash out of sight. The only difference would be that it would take longer for landfills to fill up. To truly solve the trash problem, society needs a technological breakthrough that will somehow eradicate trash. Maybe a device will be created that will transform toxic materials into biodegradable matter. Perhaps a toxin will be designed to dissolve trash without leaving a byproduct. However, these technologies will take a long time to develop. Therefore, it is important that Americans take responsibility, and reduce their trash outputs to buy scientists the most possible time to develop the necessary technologies. Maybe a day will come when science will make the problem of trash obsolete, until then, Americans should focus on trying to help our common cause and reduce the amount of trash our society discards.


[1] “ How much do Americans throw away?”

[2] Brian Palmer, “Go West, Garbage Can! Are we running out of room for our garbage?” (The Green Lantern, 2011)

[3] Palmer

[4] Craig Harrington, “Important Daily News You Need to Know, Today’s Issue: U.S. Exports”, (Economy in Crisis, 2010) < >

[5] “ How much do Americans throw away?”


More Entries

Contact Blog Owner