Older Dumps

Decades ago products were made to last longer, and people tended to repair rather than replace goods. Later nearly every city and town established an open-air, public dump, where citizens brought items that could not be otherwise reused, sold, or salvaged. As the population grew and people produced more garbage, city dumps grew as well, often turning into small mountains of smelly and increasingly toxic garbage.

New York City created the largest dump in the world—the Fresh Kills landfill located on Staten Island. (Kill, in this context, comes from a word of Dutch origin that means "creek" or "chan nel.") For more than fifty years, the dump served as the city's principal dumping site, receiving about 14,000 tons (12,700 metric tons) of garbage per day, eventually becoming an environmental wasteland. Eventually, it covered 2,200 acres (890ha) and stood over 200 feet (60m) high—so big that it can be seen from outer space. Fresh Kills was finally shut down in 2001 after accepting the remains of the World Trade Center following the terrorist attacks of September 11. Since then the state of New York has been working to clean up the area and make it a viable wetland that can once again support wildlife.

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