Monday, July 2, 2012

Museum of Garbage, At Last!

Speaking of garbage... We finally made it to the Museum of Garbage. Yep, it's a real museum, although it's a pretty tiny one. But don't let its size or out of the way location discourage you from going there. It's simply awesome!

I found out about this museum thanks to Laura from Bedtime Math. Yep, her daily e-mails are awesome like that. You and your kids get to learn a lot of cool stuff in addition to solving interesting and very practical math problems.

Ok, so I promised M to go to this museum next time we're in NY 'cause CT is much closer to NY than to NC. Except, when I looked at the map, I found out that the museum was still good 100 miles away from the Grandparents' house. And to get there I had to take I-95 which I totally hate for its traffic. But a promise is a promise. And so we went there last week.

And as I said, it was totally cool! First, you get in and there's this Temple of Trash which is fun just to look at. Or you can play scavenger hunt in it (and it's not at all easy).

The museum has exhibits for various ages. I think even middle-school aged kids will find it interesting. For young ones there are a few hands-on activities. M absolutely loved the "sort your trash" display. You get to operate a conveyor belt and sort various recyclables. He was there for a long time!

There is also a bookshelf in the corner of this area. Do not overlook it! It has lots of children's books about impact of trash on the environment and about recycling. Most of these books I haven't read to M yet (and we've read a lot of garbage-themed books). With so much to see and do, M didn't want to listen to my reading. But he couldn't resist this adorable story called Dougal, the Garbage Dump Bear. It is such a cute story! I'm totally in love and am going to buy this book. As one of the Amazon reviews says: "Highly recommend it for someone who loves stuffed animals or garbage!" I loved the book so much that I tried finding out a bit more about its author, Matt Dray. Couldn't find much, but will continue looking.

After that, we all went to see the best part of the museum. Well, guess what?! Ok, this museum is built right next to a recycling sorting facility. So if you go to the second floor of the museum, you will find yourself in a gallery overlooking the unloading bay and sorting floor.

Seriously, this is so cool - you get to see trucks bringing recyclables in, bulldozers pushing huge piles of garbage together, conveyor belts going in all directions, carrying recyclables to various stations where they get separated - paper and cardboard, plastic, aluminum, glass - all in different areas. And you get to see lots of bales of compacted recyclables (M loves those since that's what Wall-E was doing, compacting trash into cubes).

Of course, there's even more in the museum. For example, there's a display that shows all the trash produced by Sustainable Dave over one full year. It's surprisingly little. So little, in fact, that it's even less than the amount of trash generated by the artist who worked on the display itself. Sadly, both Dave's trash and the artist's trash, combined, are still less than what you can collect walking 100 yards on Sandy Hook's bay side beach.

There was also a craft area for making collages with cut up food packaging, left over pieces of paper and jigsaw puzzle pieces from incomplete sets. M and Grandma worked on the collage (sunrise over the landfill, I think) while I made little souvenir name tags.

Even though there were quite a few other things to see and explore, it was time for us to head home. We were trying to beat the end-of-day traffic on Tappan Zee Bridge (no such luck). I hope we get to visit this museum again in the future. Sure, it's a long drive, but the Stepping Stones museum in Norwalk are on the way and I think the trips can be combined (especially if we stay somewhere overnight).

P.S. Thinking about this trip, I think what I liked most about the museum was the emphasis they place on REDUCING the stream of garbage we create even if it's all recyclable. 

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