Love is in the air at the Los Reales Landfill on Tucson’s south side.
Tucson’s Environmental Services Department offers a free, four hour tour of its recycling facilities and landfill every Valentine’s Day and Halloween. On this day, about 25 people took them up on the offer.
“I’ve always wanted to do this,” said Tom Thompson, firmly holding hands with his wife of 30 years. “And my wife loves me.”
“And I get a dinner out of it,” said his wife Rebecca. “A steak dinner.”
There seems to be a fascination among the people who take the tour and a lot of questions about garbage, landfills, and what happens to all the methane.
“We send our methane to TEP,” said Martin Bey, of Environmental Services. “Enough to power 4,800 homes.”
He explains the dump has been operational for half a century and has another 70 years of life left. The landfill takes in 1,500 tons of solid waste a day he explains as a long procession of cars, trucks and haulers parade though the landfill.
But it’s the love birds who are the ones who get the most attention on this day.
Joyce Broan is on the trip as a result of a free gift from her son Andrew. She also received a gift of red roses from another admirer for Valentine’s, but says this one was the most compelling.
“This trip is much more meaningful than the red roses,” she said.
When asked about the dump she said the “view from up here is great” but she added the recycling center was the most interesting.
“I’ll clean the cans better when I recycle them,” she said. “But I do recycle everything.”
Jerry, a retired doctor, recycles as well.
“I’m trying to get the museum I volunteer for to recycle too,” he said.
When asked why he was on the trip, the recycling “is what I really came down for but this is kind of a bonus.”
“I think it’s fascinating,” he said. “You know you collect a lot of stuff but the question is, what happens to it.”
The mountains of trash, the parade of vehicles and the thousands of birds, “this stuff you never see,” he said.
Environmental services says it’s all about awareness and getting more people to recycle.
Bey told the group even though Los Reales has decades to go, there’s still the hope that landfills may not be needed in the future.
“Zero waste,” he said. “All least that’s the goal.”
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