Captain Planet Mount Trashmore

The first Earth Day – ever – that I can remember was in 1990. My mom took my sisters and I to McDonald’s drive-thru to celebrate.  McDonald’s had just discontinued the styrofoam clamshells and going with a card stock paper alternative. They also stopped using beef tallow in the french fryer. It was an Earth day miracle!

We took our McDonald’s and drove to Mount Trashmore in Virginia Beach. The skyhigh mound of a park made from a landfill. 

*Virginia Beach used a creative process to close its landfill. It compacted and piled solid waste into Mount Trashmore, building the cells vertically over 60 feet high. After closing the landfill and capping it with clay, Virginia Beach had created the tallest spot of land in the city. It made the site into a public park, with vents in select locations to dispose of methane generated by the waste decomposing within the “mountain.”

The garbage continues to decay slowly underneath the clay cap. It burps gases out the vent pipes regularly, but the city succeeded in converting a waste site into a valued recreational asset. After closing the landfill, the city began shipping its solid waste to the Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA) waste-to-energy plant in Portsmouth and the SPSA’s landfill in Suffolk. *   (

We could have our trash and eat it too







heading image credit: garbage dump header