Just as many other bloggers have mentioned, Hanover is now in spring term. During the month of May, students are required to take only one class, which gives them more time to concentrate on certain fields and have more fun. Professors also like to take students off campus to explore the applications of textbook concepts.
Many of my friends are taking their spring term abroad: some went to study the history of math in England, some went to China to discover the philosophies in Chinese temples and some went to Turkey to witness that country’s economic development. While still staying on campus, I am taking an environmental geology class with the topic, waste.
The moment I looked at my syllabus, I was shocked! Because according to it, our class will go on SIX field trips to landfills! The scene of my digging trash in the landfills just repeated over and over again in my brain, and I did not know what to expect in this class. I had never been to a landfill in China before, and I didn’t even care where the household wastes that I generate went at all. However, this class surprisingly changed my views on waste.
For our first field trip, we went to the Bartholomew County Landfill and Recycling Center in Columbus, Ind. The tour guide told us that this landfill would be full in 40-50 years, which shocked me a lot. Since it is so hard to find a proper place to have a landfill, the best way to extend the life of a landfill is to encourage people to reduce their trash and learn to reuse and recycle.
Over the sanitary landfill, I was amazed at the yard waste composting, creation of wet land, and so on. Human beings have been trying to restore the natural and ecological equilibrium that they broke, but can they make it work? We will see.
Last Friday, we went to Rumpke, located in downtown Cincinnati. To protect ourselves, we had to wear hard hats and goggles. For the first time, I wore the yellow-greenish vest and walked in the machine just like a Rumpke worker. I was amazed at the huge machine, which operates in a single stream and can separate different kinds of recyclables using the concepts of gravity. This way, people do not need to hand-sort the recyclables again, which increases the efficiency and accuracy of recycling.
Some people asked me what the landfills and recycling in China are like. Actually, I have no idea. I think most of the garbage is incinerated, but I am not sure. One thing that I am certain of is that Chinese people do not have a strong awareness of protecting the environment, and that was one reason why waste was just not something that would interest me at all while I was in China.
But now that I have learned so much in this course, I really look forward to exploring where waste goes in China! Hopefully I will be able to promote some awareness of recycling when I go back home someday, and I think that is the meaning of education — bringing knowledge to more people.