Green Parenting- Filling Up our Landfills
Our landfills are getting fuller at a rather quick pace. Americans produce 250 million tons of trash in 2010 (epa.gov). According to the landfill statistics given by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 1988 there were 7,924 landfills available in the US. In 2006, there were only 1,754 left. That’s a pretty startling stat, no?
So what just is a landfill? Here is the official definition:
Landfill: A method for final disposal of solid waste on land. The refuse is spread and compacted and a cover of soil applied so that effects on the environment (including public health and safety) are minimized. Under current regulations, landfills are required to have liners and leachate treatment systems to prevent contamination of ground water and surface waters. An industrial landfill disposes of non-hazardous industrial wastes. A municipal landfill disposes of domestic waste including garbage, paper, etc. This waste may include toxins that are used in the home, such as insect sprays and powders, engine oil, paints, solvents, and weed killers. source Pesticides Glossary
As if that definition isn’t enough to make your cringe, here are two graphics that definitely might:
WHAT DO WE DISPOSE OF EACH YEAR?
* Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)—more commonly known as trash or garbage
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE ITEMS TO DECOMPOSE?
Here are some ways to reduce the amount of materials that go into landfills according to the EPA:
- Source reduction, or waste prevention, is designing products to reduce the amount of waste that will later need to be thrown away and also to make the resulting waste less toxic.
- Recycling is the recovery of useful materials, such as paper, glass, plastic, and metals, from the trash to use to make new products, reducing the amount of new raw materials needed.
- Composting involves collecting organic waste, such as food scraps and yard trimmings, and storing it under conditions designed to help it break down naturally. This resulting compost can then be used as a natural fertilizer.
So in an effort to outlive my trash, I’m hoping to definitely reduce the amount of paper, plastics and metals I consume and recycle as much as possible! What about you?
Green Parenting is published every Friday.
Questions, comments and the like should be addressed to Elise Jones.