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Taking out the trash can be a hassle for anyone.
But when you live in Antarctica, where it’s dark for six months out of the year and temperatures can reach -70 degrees Fahrenheit in April, it becomes a mini-expedition.
In TikTok video posted on April 5, traveler and physician assistant Josiah Horneman (who goes by @joespinstheglobe on TikTok) revealed the exhausting, multi-step process. His videos on life in the coldest place on earth have already been liked over 3 million times since he joined TikTok in April.
Horneman is one of 40 crew members living in Antarctica’s Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. He told Insider that he helps run the station clinic with the doctor there.
Located near the southernmost point on Earth, the station is completely isolated between mid-February and late October because extreme conditions make air and overland travel impossible, according to the South Pole ASMA website.
“Even mundane things take more effort here,” Horneman captioned his video.
Compared to his routine at home, waste disposal is a much more involved process at the station, he told Insider.
Horneman’s video starts with a close-up of a temperature gauge: “Woo -70, pretty chilly right?” he says, his breath visible in the cold air.
Dressed in a fur-lined hat, thick yellow mittens, and heavy-duty red parka, Horneman
opens a large metal gate and rolls a dumpster full of trash into a cargo-only elevator.
He pushes the elevator button, walks down seven flights of stairs to a lower level beneath the snow called “the logistics arch,” and then removes the trash from the elevator and separates it into recycling, landfill, and sanitary waste.
But taking out the trash doesn’t end there. Horneman says that his team has to compact the trash into pallets, which are stored down there until the summer when the temperatures are high enough to remove the trash from the station.
Once temperatures rise, Horneman told Insider there are only two ways to get the trash out of there: fly it out, or place it in specialized sleds and haul it via tractor for 1,030-miles over snow and ice to the McMurdo Station, the operations base for the US Antarctic Program.
Per the Antarctic Treaty, all waste generated on the continent must be removed, and the trash eventually makes its way to a waste management system in New Zealand, Horneman told Insider.
“We are officially the most isolated group of humans in the solar system,” Horneman said in his first TikTok video. “It is literally easier to get home from the International Space Station than it is from here at this point.”
The silver lining to temperatures that rarely warm up above -55 degrees Fahrenheit is that the stench from the trash buildup doesn’t get too bad, despite bags of trash sitting there for months on end, Horneman told Insider.
Plus everything is double-bagged to prevent spills, and food waste is triple bagged, he said.
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