Digging into the environment


A lot has changed in the last 15 to 20 years, and the Pictou County landfill is proof of that.

Grade 2s from G. R. Saunders Elementary School in Stellarton recently got a smell of what it is like at the landfill and how all the waste that Pictou County residents produce is managed.

As well as fitting in with the school’s curriculum, the students take part in green initiatives such as sorting their trash at school and taking part in community and school clean ups. During their tour of the facility, the students had the opportunity to see the sorting facility where paper and plastic recycling is sorted and put into trucks to be shipped off to Colchester County.

“It’s good to come in and actually see where it’s sorted,” said teacher Dwayne Laffin. He added that it is a fantastic program that Pictou County Solid Waste puts on for the schools and pays for to help educate the children.

Along with the sorting facility tour, the kids also learn about why the dump no longer collects waste for their facility and why it is shipped off. Looking out the fogged-up bus window is a big hill; once the landfill site is pointed out, showing the vents that let the methane gas out of the buried garbage site. The tour guide from Pictou County Solid Waste, Marla Cameron, also told the students about leachate, a liquid that is produced from the garbage and organics breaking down in the soil. A liner is set up underneath the landfill to prevent the toxic substance from getting into the soil or drinking water.

Students were also shown the facilities where compost is produced and the process it goes through to become compost from organic materials.

“They’re pretty grossed out with the compost,” Laffin chuckled. “It’s a good opportunity to see different jobs that people have.”

During their lessons on the environment, the classes have also been learning about how waste disposal was handled in the past and the effects that not recycling and composting can have.

“We talk about illegal dump sites and what things used to be like,” he said. “Everyone has to do their part.”

He added that the children were surprised to learn that people used to put compostable food in the trash as well.

“We never really talked about it,” Laffin recalled. “You just threw your garbage out and they picked it up.”

After the tour was over the kids were treated to sunflower seed planting to teach them about life cycles and hot dogs for lunch. For Camdyn Logan, the sunflower seeds were her favourite part, although she found learning about the leachate interesting as well.

“I think it would help our environment,” Logan said about why people should recycle and compost.

Students from G. R. Saunders Elementary School in Stellarton watch as a recycling truck dumps plastic recycling bags at the sorting facility at the Pictou County landfill.

(Brimicombe photo)