“Ours is a culture and a time as immensely rich in trash as it is in treasures”*…
… and sometimes the trash is treasure:
There’s a Covanta Holding Corp. incinerator outside Philadelphia that produces electricity from burning garbage. It also produces something else: stacks and stacks of blackened, sooty coins.
Over the course of a year, those nickels, dimes and quarters add up to about $360,000. That’s seven times the average income in the Philadelphia metropolitan region, and the money is piling up as Covanta waits for the U.S. Mint to resume coin purchases under an exchange program it suspended in November.
About $61.8 million of loose change is accidentally thrown away every year in the U.S., Covanta estimates. The coins get swept off restaurant tables, mixed in with scraps when people empty their pockets, and vacuumed up from carpets or sofa cushions. The money used to end up in the dump, but as trash volume increases and open space dwindles, landfill-disposal costs are up 25 percent in the past decade. That’s created an incentive for Covanta and other companies to develop ways to sift through mountains of garbage and extract steel, iron, aluminum and copper for sale to recyclers…
* Ray Bradbury,
As we check again under our sofa cushions, we might spare a thought for Blessed John (Johannes, Ioannes) Duns Scotus, O.F.M.; he died on this date in 1308. One of the most important philosophers of the High Middle Ages (with his arch-rival, William of Ockham), Duns Scotus was a champion of a form of Scholasticism that came to be known as Scotism.
But he may be better remembered as a result of the slurs of 16th Century philosophers, who considered him a sophist– and coined the insult “dunce” (someone incapable of scholarship) from the name “Dunse” given to his followers in the 1500s.