The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007



Last Thursday, I helped with my daughter Elena’s field trip to the Marin Recycling Center.

Walking Elena and her two classmates to my messy car, I sang "To the dump, to the dump, to the dump, dump, dump" to the tune of the Lone Ranger. I was expecting a boring trip, and hoped the song would generate enthusiasm.

“What’s that smell?” whined Elena when we reached the recycling center. The other girls joined in unison.

We entered the spacious education room. There was a giant television with a gleaming blue monitor, a wooden piano decorated with stained glass, a turkey made of scrap metal, and a robot comprised of different sized cans. I asked our tour guide, Devi Peri, about the parquet dance floor. She said community dance groups used the facility at night. "The room can also be rented for special events," she added.

After a short video -- Marin County had the country’s first curbside recycling program -- we put on hard hats and fluorescent vests. The initial stop on our tour was the plastic recycling area.

Devi pointed out the objects that should not have been there, including a planter, containers and plastic bags. “The only kind of plastic that our center recycles is bottles. All the other stuff that people put in just creates more work for us.” I cringed; I sometimes put yogurt tubs in the recycling because I feel guilty throwing them out. We walked toward 10-foot tall blocks. One was composed completely of crushed plastic milk jugs, another was made of aluminum cans and a third was created from plastic laundry detergent bottles.

Our next stop: the transfer station, a gigantic covered enclosure where garbage trucks dumped their loads to be consolidated and trucked to the landfill in Novato. “Two hundred and fifty tons of trash is collected every day in Marin,” Devi said. Elena’s pregnant teacher, Mrs. Rodgers, left the building to gag.

We walked toward a giant sign stating, “God Bless America.” A smaller one, immediately below this statement of patriotism, indicated where the “Hazardous Waste Drop-Off” was located. The parents snickered at the ironic juxtaposition.

The kids liked the garden of treasures salvaged from the landfill. There was a lawn jockey, a faux Egyptian tablet filled with hieroglyphics and lots of stone busts of unfamiliar people. We were also surprised to see a male peacock displaying his tail.

“Okay kids, (now's) the last part of the tour, Tin Can Farm.” There was an enclosure of real pigs. Chickens and roosters also wandered around.

“Who wants to see the white peacocks?” asked Devi. How many surprises is this trip to the dump going to have? I wondered. I held up the kids so that they could look over the fence and see the pure white peacocks. Their tails looked like lace doilies.

I made my charges scrape the pig manure and recycling ooze off their shoes along the sidewalk before getting into my not all that messy compared to the dump car.

Driving home, I realized I had taken more photos of the dump than of my son’s birthday party. It was the best field trip of the year. The dump wasn’t the end of the line, as I previously thought. It was a place of new beginnings. Noisy roosters found a home, ugly stone sculptures found admirers, community members found dance partners, and lots of glass and aluminum found near eternal life.

To go to the dump, to the dump, the dump -- and more -- call 415.499.3232.

By Beth Touchette

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Ran across your blog when searching for event planning info. Funny, funny stuff. I'll hear the Long Ranger every time I go to the dump!

Hooray for RECYCLING! Thanks for writing about this important aspect of consuming. Hopefully field trips like this will keep raising awareness. (It's how my kids make $ for their piggy banks around my house...)
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