Every year approximately 5 000 000 000 tons of rubbish are produced in Russia. The problem of rubbish is especially acute in Moscow Region where almost all the garbage from the city is brought to. From every 11 tons of trash that are carried away to Moscow Region landfills 8 tons are produced in Moscow. Officially there are 18 landfill sites in Moscow Region, although according to another sources there exist also around 200 illegal sites in the region.
The aim of the project is to explore how rubbish interacts with nature and people. All the three elements are interconnected: a man is the part of nature and rubbish is the part of a man. What's more, man and nature are involved in the eternal conflict and constantly suppress each other. The key link of the chain is man who influences the nature producing rubbish, what subsequently has influence on himself.
Rubbish becomes part of natural environment and merges with it, it can be seen on tons of thrown away things in forests and fields, the result of this are also poisoned lakes which fall to rivers and the soil itself, filled with natural organisms mixed with human waste.
Rubbish penetrates into man's life too. People who live next to landfills suffer from heavy stench, poisoned water and soil and non-picturesque views from their windows. Although there are some people who have their own advantages from landfill sites. Landfills, in other words heaps of rubbish make lives of a lot of people easier and save them from death. Landfills provide them with firewood, clothes, food, earnings and shelter.
The landfill site Kuchino in Balashikha was formed in 1964 in situ of a clay pit. The locals remember how they were swimming and fishing in pit lakes. Nowadays the closest street to the landfill is Rechnaya street of Kuchino village. Its residents can see the heap of rubbish from the windows of their houses and from their kitchen gardens.
From outside the landfill seems just a mountain of ground with big and small rubbish inclusions. In fact it is completely made of waste. Under a short layer of soil there are tons of compressed rubbish and pressurized highly explosive methane gas produced as a result of breakdown of waste. Because of this gas spontaneous combustions are frequent on landfills. Moreover, rainfalls wash out the soil and landfill just slides down, step by step coming closer to dwelling houses.
When the wind blows, it puffs away from the landfill a lot of plastic bags, which end up on the closest trees and in the kitchen gardens of the locals. The residents collect the bags and put them back on the top of the rubbish heap or burn them in barrels.
The main thing they talk about and why they are discontented is the smell that arises from the landfill. Sometimes it can be felt on the Kuchino train station situated in 2 km from the landfill. One of the employees of the local chemist's shop says that all the locals have the same illnesses of lungs and bronchi. Besides the stench the landfill disturbs people by noises and leachate – it is black water with chemical odor that flows out of the landfill and forms lakes and river with the length of tens of meters. One of these leachate lakes falls into the Pekhorka River that later connects with the Moscow River.
At the same time landfill helps local residents a lot of whom make extra money on the landfill on weekends. They collect copper, brass, alumina and other metals, which they kiln afterwards and give away for processing. The landfill in Kuchino provides a lot of homeless people who live in self-made buildings in a small settlement nearby with shelter, household stuffs and earnings. All their huts are built of materials they have found on the landfill.
"I work every day. I wake up at 5 o´clock in the morning and start looking for wires at the footing of the landfill. Once I gather 20 kg I kiln it and give it away for processing. To kiln it is not hard but it is dangerous, you have to watch for not setting fire to grass and you can´t breathe the fumes. Once last year a month me and my friend earned 150 thousand rubles.
Landfill gives absolutely everything to me. Everything that I wear is from the landfill. If I find a good thing why not to take it? It is good to live on the landfill: if I want to scoop I do it, if not I don´t".
The landfill has increased twice during the last few years. It hit the height of 80 meters, which is 9 meters higher than the Kremlin main tower, and came unraveled closer to Fenino village.
Dogs, gulls, crows, pigeons, rats and big white hares inhabit the landfill. At night foxes come here and on the tops live bats.
The Kuchino landfill shows how a heap of rubbish in an inevitable and multivarious way influences the setting and people living around. Rubbish, man and nature are involved in eternal conflict and constantly suppressing each other.