Cleaning Up the Dumps

By Land Wilson

I grew up in Marin County and I remember communities actively filling in Bay Area wetlands. One of these areas is now where our local Home Depot resides. As a kid, going to “The Dump” was a fun day trip. At the check-in booth we were given a lollipop and we could help our parents toss garbage over the edge of a steep embankment. The crazy thing is that in the many decades leading up to the 1980’s, there were no hazardous waste collection centers for households. Everything went into landfill.

I have to share that it was my father-in-law, Roger Ahlenius, who was the primary force behind saving Santa Margarita Island, which you can read more about in yesterday’s post. At a time when people were steam-rolling ahead with filling the bay, he was out trying to save it. His mark on the world with this little island, in my mind is one of the most honorable achievements a person can accomplish. Today there is even a trail named in his honor.


Let’s face it, future generations are going to want and need tidal marshes restored. I foresee they’ll even want the old toxic dump areas cleaned. Let’s show future generations that we care about the world they’ll inherit by working towards what I refer to as a “zero landfill” lifestyle. Bea Johnson and her family of Mill Valley, CA do a great job demonstrating how this can be accomplished at their Zero Waste Home website. The more we protect nature now, the more our descendants will thank us.

We face extreme environmental challenges, but I am hopeful because humans can be smart. People in large numbers around the world are becoming more aware of how interconnected we are to our ecosystems and how our well-being is tied to a healthy natural world. As the earth becomes more populated, protecting our nature is going to become more vital. Instead of sprawling outwards and building over our nature, let’s sprawl upwards and create beautiful, green, passive energy cities that nourish people. 

Asking the question, “Where will all the nature go?” is a great reminder of our duty to revere and protect the nature we have left.
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Land Wilson is the author of Sofia’s Dream which is available for purchase by clicking here

Please remember, too, that 20% of all Little Pickle Press sales will benefit Mercy Corps and their relief efforts in Japan. Use coupon code LPPJAPAN at check-out and thank you for your generosity.

6 thoughts on “Cleaning Up the Dumps

  1. Your post brings to mind something I read in a friend-of-a-friend’s letter from Japan: “People keep saying, ‘Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another.'” We all need to help one another and the planet is a big ‘another’. Being originally from NYC I’m not keen on building up, but building wisely – and being able to share wisely, respectfully and with reverence for living things – that is important to me. I like your posts, Land, keep ’em coming.

  2. As an environmental reporter for 10 years I learned a lot about the importance of wetlands and the fact they are disappearing way too fast. One problem is that a wetland may not be that for 12 months out of the year, so developers see the land ripe for the picking.

    Pat Bean

  3. I look forward to the day when dumps are a distant memory. I, too, have faith in the human spirit and in technology to help achieve this lofty goal. Thanks for being an exemplary environmental steward, Land, and for sharing your insights with all of us.

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