Styrofoam base for fake adobeDuring construction, the stucco guys spent weeks shaping the styrofoam to make it look like adobe walls.

When you cut styrofoam panels, you get styrofoam beads that shed like sawdust from wood. The stuff is light and blows everywhere around the yard.

I've been chasing it from the alcove since before we moved in. At first, I simply swept it out into the yard. Duh! The wind just blows it back in. It took me a month to figure that out. Then I swept it up and dumped it in a trashcan. The trash can is one we've had for 30 years and it has holes in it, through which the beads leaked out, then blew back into the alcove.

Now I sweep it up and dump it in the new trash can, the one that has a hole only at the top. The beads so-disposed-of don't blow back onto the porch, but--HA HA! there's plenty more where those came from.

I don't know if the stuff does any harm or not--maybe it gives off radon gas when exposed to the elements or something--but it sure doesn't go away. I've been hiking on land over the fence to the east of our property and found big chunks of styrofoam board lodged in the arroyo. It's not our styrofoam, by the way. Probably came from a neighbor's fake adobe house that was built in 2005. It's yellowed and badly deteriorated. When I pick it up, it sheds lots of beads, but I haul it out anyway and put it in our trash can--the new one--along with the beads from our vortex.

So, I mused this morning, while sweeping the alcove, that this is the definition of hazardous material. It's stuff that you need for a beneficial purpose--insulation in the case of the styrofoam under stucco--but you don't need as much as get. It's stuff that you try to clean up, but it keeps coming back and you can't get rid of it.

Another of the unintended consequences of prosperity.