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Florida Builds Mountains out of Garbage, Not Mole Hills.

Don is a retired engineer and shares his experiences and knowledge with his readers to help them as technology gets more complicated.

A Floridian's perspective

OK, I am a Floridian; not a native Floridian, of course, but I have lived here for over eight years and I do expect to stay.

Or at least my creaky bones tell me so, every time I go back up North during cold weather, to visit family and friends.

I’ve lived in several states, over the years, and I’ve traveled the country and the world extensively, so I believe my perspective on many of the things I see, are accurate.

One of the things I noticed when we first visited Florida, many decades ago, was the tendency of some of the larger cities to build mountains of their garbage.

This is understandable, I guess, considering that the average water table in Florida is only a few feet below the surface and does not lend itself to the burial of waste. So, here in Florida, the options for garbage management are limited.

Garbage Mountain near Orlando

Orlando Garbage Mountain tureed into farmland.

Orlando Garbage Mountain tureed into farmland.

Land development from Swamps

Many Floridians don't like to hear this, but the state of Florida is essentially a long finger of swamp covered land. And over the past people have slowly converted much of the state from its natural state, as unusable swamplands into flat, dry, sections of useable land interspersed with small shallow ponds.

This has often been done by land developers, as well as local governments, who aggressively dredged dirt from the swamps and filled in large sections of land for buildings and roads.

When they dig the wet black swamp dirt from an area of useless swampland, thus creating a giant pond and then place the dirt around the border land to this pond, they will have converted the swamp land into useable land for building homes and business' that will be several feet above sea level.

Once this dirt has dried and has been packed properly, they can then build yet another housing community or shopping center, and usually they can build on the parcels right next to the beautiful new 2-foot deep ponds so prevalent around Florida, while touting the great water view.

If you don’t believe this, look at an arial view of the state for Florida. You will quickly notice that it is sprinkled with tens of thousands of ponds and lakes; and the vast majority of them are square or rectangular in shape, which was by design to compliment the developers building plans..

Florida's Mountains of Garbage

Anyway, down here in Florida, we joke that the highest points in the state are the enormous landfill mounds that contain our the garbage of the major city's, which was collected over several decades.

These mounds are so large and so high that their builders must put warning lights on the top of them for pilots to avoid.

One county that I visited a few years ago, had at least made a sensible decision about getting some kind of use out of their mound of waste.

Someone, realizing that the top was flat, made the whole mound a city park complete with several baseball/softball fields, soccer fields and even a track for runners and joggers.

The park looks very nice; replete with bleachers, night lights, public toilets and such. But in reality, the vast majority of these mounds just sit there, belching methane and blocking the view for people living nearby.

The funny thing is; many people already think these eyesores should be given names to commemorate the politicians who decided that they were a viable solution for managing our society’s garbage.

Deodorizer Garbage Can, 13-gal.

Turning Garbage into Gold?

In fact, if these mountains of waste had actually been designed as compost piles, the average elevation of the whole state could probably be raised by several feet using the “rotted garbage turned to dirt”.

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This would leave a lot less garbage to be stored in mounds around the state, and these would hold real non-biodegradable waste.

But, while staring at one of these Florida mountains of waste, I began to imagine a more positive future for these collections of today's waste.

These early garbage mountains were literally piles of raw garbage, both biodegradable and non-biodegradable, all mixed together, often ground into a slurry and then sealed in layers of plastic sheeting to control the excess liquid and gaseous waste generated by the natural process of rotting, over time.

In fact, many of these mounds have gas burning towers installed on their tops. These towers burn the constantly generated methane from the rotting garbage sealed deep within the bowels of the mountain. A few, more forward looking governments have even harnessed this supply of gases for recycling.

So, all of this got my imagination going and I predict there will be a day when these mounds of waste are actually worth someone mining them for their valuable assets.

That’s right, eventually, all of those; tin cans, plastic bottles, broken furniture pieces, rusty bicycles, and thousands of other discarded pieces of our past are going to be worth something.

If nothing else, they will be worth the escalated value of their minerals, metals and recyclable parts. It’s just a matter of time, really considering how wasteful we are todays with our natural resources.

Imagine, thirty, fifty, or more years from now, when a bulldozer turns over several coins, quarters, nickels, dimes and several pennies that were once left in the pocket of an old pair of pants that was thrown in the trash.

The processed metal of these coins could be worth a small fortune considering that today’s soothsayers are predicting the obsolescence of physical money for credit accounts which are managed on personal data devices (what we still call cell phones today).

And, OMG, what about finding a whole cell phone, packed full of rare metals, that was discarded because we had dropped it into some water and it stopped working for us.

Yep, someone once said that “today’s garbage is tomorrows gold”, or something like that.

And, eventually, those many unsightly mounds of today’s trash will be mined and it’s valuable contents removed.

by Don Bobbitt, 2016

Degradable Trash Bags

Sincle-Stream Recycling of Garbage

Reclaiming Energy from Garbage

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on March 18, 2016:

Stacie L - I understand yours and so many of mine and others frustrations over the excessive waste we see being generated.

From my perspective, this country of ours (and others) need to start a totally aggressive and and innovative system of laws demanding that not only the food and comforts our citizens enjoy be recyclable, but also the containers, manufacturing and sales materials

Stacie L on March 18, 2016:

I wonder if mounds of trash that are in sight, are better than mounds of trash that are dumped into the oceans every day?

It's not an easy solution.

We can burn it, bury it, recycle some, but humans are making too much waste and we need to get serious about reducing our footprint or trash piles.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on March 18, 2016:

tebo - For as long as man has been around, we have generated waste.

And, the typical solution is to just stick it somewhere, out of sight.

We can only hope that we will eventually design our consumables to be 100% recyclable?

Thanks for the read and comment,


tebo from New Zealand on March 17, 2016:

It is amazing how much rubbish we produce and then have to dispose of. I recently took a load of rubbish to the local dump and was astounded by how much junk was there, from mattresses to broken chairs...And I thought this is just one day and this must happen every day! An interesting article on Florida and its mountains.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on March 03, 2016:

BlossumSB - You are so right.

I remember when I used to spend about 50% of my time in Brazil and would travel into Sao Paolo often.

Along the way, there were several miles of what they called a river that led directly into the city. Both banks of this polluted stream were covered with garbage cast there by the poor. It stuck in my head how we can so easily let such basic things as garbage management get away from us.


Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on March 02, 2016:

Thanks for a very interesting hub. Garbage disposal is a big problem in so many countries around the world and something that we all need to address.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on March 02, 2016:

MizBejabbers - I am always optimistic and sarcastic.

They go together so well when I start writing something.

And You? Cow Farts?

I immediately pictured this problem after our decided to manage such a thing.

I can just see it, a farmers dozens of cows quietly grazing in the pasture, each with a long hose stuck up their butts to capture the methane!

Thanks for the read and the comment,


Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on March 01, 2016:

KJ force - I cracked up over the Pyramids thing. I'm kicking myself right now for not putting them into my article.

And the ideas keep coming.

What great Marijuana farms these 'Monuments of Waste" would make?

Anyway, thanks for the read and comment,


Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on February 29, 2016:

I dunno, Don, I think you're being optimistic. Just a little anyway. And people wonder why there are sinkholes in Florida. The methane is horrifying if it is allowed to drain off into the atmosphere. With that happening, I don't think we have to worry about the damage cow farts do to cause climate change. You're right, I wonder what the Scott Wolter of 5,000 A.D. will find. I can't decide if you're being humorous or practical, or both.

kjforce from Florida on February 29, 2016:

Don....Very creative and unique style..kinda " tongue in cheek "my kind of genre ! This will probably be a featured segment on the Ancient Aliens TV maybe the program although NOT in our lifetime... People are always questioning the Pyramids. underground cities etc..perhaps this too is " past perspective solutions" to issues ...ever thought of writing Sci-fi ? Loved your creativity on this subject...Florida could be the next COLORADO ? have a great day in the sun....

Thanks for making mine..loved it ..sharing

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on February 29, 2016:

tsad - Yeah, the prospect of Florida becoming an underwater attraction for scuba divers is probably why so many of the Seniors I know are being cremated instead of being buried.

Imagine all of those beautiful caskets popping out of the ground? LOL!

Anyway, I'll keep up with our state's continued development of Garbage Mountains.

Thanks for the read and comment.


Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on February 28, 2016:

Very interesting hub. I learnt a lot from this article.

It is true that if garbage is managed prudently, it can yield valuable income and profits. One should think smartly, ecologically and even commercially for it.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

The Logician from then to now on on February 28, 2016:

LOL Don we think alike!

Man made mountains of garbage!! Well that reminds me of man made global warming. Soon they will be calling those mountains "Mountain Change".

I was only to Florida 30 years ago. I've stayed away because of all the "settled science" scientists predicting for the last 25 years Florida would be under water "any day now."

Man, you been lucky so far but better get out of there or you will have to be living on the tiny top of one of those mountains keeping warm with the methane burners. But then you will be rich from all the minerals you can dig out. Fair trade off I guess if that is your plan. :-)

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