Con: Hauling Our Own Garbage

I hope everybody out there is grateful for waste disposal services. Shishmaref offers no waste disposal (except of the anuq variety; see here). Garbage day is something we look back on with fond memories. It was so easy when we only had to haul the trash to the curb...

Now, we haul our trash to the dump about one mile out of town. This could be a problem because we don't own a vehicle (the main modes of transportation are snow machine and four wheeler). Luckily, the school owns a truck, a four wheeler, and a snow machine, and they trust us to operate all three. The above picture is of Steve proudly posing on the school's four wheeler (commonly called a Honda, regardless of the actual brand). (Note: despite the strange position of Steve's eyelids in this picture, he was not, nor has he ever been, stoned.)


This is the dump in all it's glory. Actually, this is only a very small fraction of the dump. Imagine this picture multiplied by about sixty and surrounding you. Yeah, it's pretty gross. I am glad it is always cold around here, or the smell would knock out small animals and children.


If you are polite, after you dump your trash, you light it on fire. This is a picture of me doing my best to exercise good dump etiquette by lighting our box o' garbage on fire. What this picture doesn't show is the strong wind that was blowing, making extremely difficult to light a match for more that .5 seconds. (Apparently Steve had a lot of experiences lighting matches in his childhood. I, however, was raised in a home where playing with fire was bad.) The Alaska Teacher can't exactly remember if I got the fire started or not. The Alaska Teacher consulted Steve, but he only shrugged. The task may have been turned over to a more able member of the dump expedition.

(Note to gentle readers: this is the only time I have personally been to the dump. It was almost three years ago. I only went because I thought that it would be a good picture taking opportunity. The rest of our waste disposal has been handled by my very strong and good-looking husband. Thank you.)


Once the garbage catches on fire, you wait long enough to determine that the rubbish will in fact burn and not blow out after a measly thirty seconds. If you are really lucky, you will find a fire that somebody else started, and you can just toss on your trash and go.


We stayed long enough this first time to watch our garbage burn almost completely (the novelty of that wore off real fast). As evidenced by the massive piles of trash behind our small pile of ashes, not everybody makes an effort to burn their trash, which is rude. In their defense, trash like empty pop cans (produced by the thousands in Shishmaref) doesn't burn very well. Also, it can sometimes be hard to start fires in the snow. The Alaska Teacher refuses to judge those who drop and dash without burning.

Steve and I (but mostly Steve) look forward to the day when somebody else will haul our trash away for us. We also look forward to the day when taking out the trash doesn't require snow boots, gloves, and earmuffs.