Ecology And Environment
Landfill

Keeping your Garbage Green



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Landfill
Rex Trulove's image for:
"Keeping your Garbage Green"
Caption: Landfill
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Image by: Ropable
© public domain http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Landfill_compactor.jpg

In the US alone, many millions of tons of garbage ends up in regulated landfills. The amount of refuse that ends up being burned or put into unregulated landfills accounts for an untold additional amount. In a time when people are becoming increasingly green-aware, this isn't just bad, it is contradictory. Thankfully, there are ways to be more landfill friendly and almost everyone can have take a part in it.

Packaging

One of the first steps is to be aware of what is being purchased before it is even bought. The idea is to have a thought about what is going to be thrown away. Plastic and Styrofoam packaging adds little to the value of the product and a lot of it doesn't break down quickly, yet the packaging often ends up in landfills. 

According to the Clean Air Council, some cities have become proactive by banning Styrofoam food containers and others have banned polystyrene cookware. While this is helpful, people can make an even bigger difference by simply refusing to buy foods that are contained in the harmful packaging. There are alternatives that are friendlier to the landfills, such as untreated cardboard, which breaks down.

Cans and glass

Metal cans that food comes in are best recycled, which takes a great deal of burden off landfills. Many locations provide access to recycling facilities at no or low cost. If they must be put in a landfill, the friendly method would be to cut the top and bottom off the can and then crush it. At the very least, this helps to not fill up the fill sites as rapidly. Statistics are kept on the amount of recycling and wastes created by state, so it isn't hard to keep track of this information.

Glass can also be recycled, and should be. Again, this lessens the total volume of material going in to the landfill.

Plant matter

It might not seem like fruit and vegetable trimmings would be harmful, and really they aren't. They break down naturally. However, if they are buried under so much debris that air can't get to the material, it doesn't decompose like it should. This means that it takes up space for a longer period of time, until it finally breaks down. It makes more sense to compost the vegetable matter to begin with. The finished compost can be used and it doesn't simply add bulk to the garbage site.

Toxic material

No toxic substances or the containers they came in should be stuffed in a garbage can for disposal in a land fill. The poisons and residues end up in the soil and foul the environment. The dumping of toxic waste is also against the law in most states. This includes paints, oil and oil containers, waste oil, petroleum distillates, pesticides, fertilizers, batteries and similar materials.

Being landfill friendly is something everyone should do as a matter of course. It may take a little time, but it isn't hard and it doesn't take a lot more knowledge than what comes with common sense. Many people are doing it already, even without being forced to do it. 

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More about this author: Rex Trulove

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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.cleanair.org/Waste/wasteFacts.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.zerowasteamerica.org/Statistics.htm
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/toxic-waste-overview/