• 72°

Stewards to protect Cumberland


My name is Don Smith, and although I live in Western Massachusetts, I’ve called Cumberland my real “home” as long as I can remember. My great-grandparents property is still in the family. Cumberland was always my haven, a pristine world remaining insulated from urban pollution, both social and environmental.

I live in Western Massachusetts now, and this morning I saw a “County Waste” trash can in a neighboring town, Hampden. Recognizing the name, I began to look into Massachusetts waste removal privatization. Hampden closed its landfill in 2002, replacing it with a “transfer station.” Now I know a “transfer station” is a sanitized name for making our trash your trash.

This is a link to the Conservation Law Center here in Massachusetts. This provides interesting insight into how the north eastern states have a specific environmental protection strategy. I applaud their effort, commitment and pride they have to ensure New England’s legacy. https://www.clf.org/blog/beginning-end-landfills-new-england/.

A Massachusetts DEP Bureau of Waste Prevention report identifies almost 1,000 Massachusetts towns that have either closed, moved, or capped their landfills by hiring companies like County Waste.

County Waste has one responsibility: generating revenue/rewarding share-holders. They dump that barrel regardless of content: trash, solid waste, industrial debris, chemicals, paint … , whatever their customers throw away is going to an out-of-state landfill.

Massachusetts promotes itself as a leader in the “green” movement, but Cumberland is revealing one reason why: trash exporting. And it’s no fault to anyone in New England, quite the opposite as the Conservation Law Center should be the model for environmental defense.

Every rural county should decide how much of their self-respect they are willing to surrender to the deep pockets made deeper from communities that can afford to export their trash. I’m asking you as community leaders to please think beyond short-term financial gain and act as stewards to protect the Cumberland many of your great grandparents lived and some settled.

Please be proud of your environmental legacy and please see the pride in being a Cumberland resident — so much pride you would never allow someone to throw trash in your front yard.

This isn’t a Cumberland or Hampden, Massachusetts, issue; this is a national issue too large to resolve with just one landfill. In the meantime, Cumberland deserves the same quality of life as the people on this quiet road in Hampden, Massachusetts.

Don Smith

Monson, Massachusetts