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Saturday, June 22, 2024

The End of Utopia (As We Know It)

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In the not-too-distant future, Long Island will be facing a waste crisis as our last municipal landfill is closing and over 1 million tons of Ash and C&D will now have to find a home. Most communities have relied on The Brookhaven Landfill for decades and now Brookhaven residents are fed up with being Long Island’s dumping ground.

Several solutions have been proposed, bury it, burn it, recycle it, truck it, train it, and launch it into space. It just may take a combination of all these ideas to handle the issue, yet all those ideas are met with a tremendous amount of shock and awe from surrounding communities all over Long Island.

The truth is there is not one community that likes the idea of having to deal with the “dirty work.”

Communities fight against solutions to the very real problems that communities have created. We want the same Nimbyism to insulate us from the cold reality that we live on an Island of consumption, and we need practical solutions to our crisis.

If we truly desire to protect our quality of life for generations, then we as individuals and communities must stop our overconsumption of goods and services. As a society, we must stop our addiction to consumption!

We live in an Era of instant gratification; I will admit myself that I am addicted to consumption. Amazon is at my house every morning, delivering my daily wants with some needs sprinkled in. Together with my wants and needs is the packaging and associated waste that comes with that glorious grey truck. The garbage truck shows up three times a week, and my landscaper has meticulously groomed my landscaping. When I want a new patio or pool or an extension on my home, I can easily finance this and live my Utopian dream. The roads are paved every year or so, and if I plan to go shopping within a few miles, I can find everything I need, even a newly constructed Chick-Fil-A. We live in a time like no other, with every wish and desire being met with a touch of a button and a click away.

As we go through the day, it is easy for us to lose track of how much we consume and why we are consuming it. More importantly, then, is the question of where is all this post-consumer waste going? Where are all these products coming from? Who are the people performing all these services to maintain me in my utopia? What are the true costs of my living here?

If we Utopians stopped consuming, industries would have no need to exist. Transfer stations, recycling facilities, municipal service facilities, rail shipping facilities, landfills, incinerators, concrete plants, asphalt plants, landscapers and trucking companies would no longer be needed. Our consumption as a society drives industry, and our Utopian world can only exist in a world where we are connected with the uncomfortable reality that industry is the backbone of our Utopian life.

Toby Carlson
Toby Carlson
President of CarlsonCorp, Inc.