Waste & What You Need To Know About Landfills
When we dispose of our trash, we are simply moving it. All garbage is sent to landfills where it piles up in large masses. When you consider that oxygen and water are in short supply in landfills, it takes a long time for garbage to completely break down. But in this process of decomposition, new types of wastes are created. Leachate and two greenhouse gasses, carbon dioxide, and methane are created. A leachate is any liquid that, in the course of passing through matter, extracts soluble or suspended solids, or any other component of the material through which it has passed.
Leachate is a widely used term in the environmental sciences where it has the specific meaning of a liquid that has dissolved or entrained environmentally harmful substances that may then enter the environment.
Modern landfills have systems that collect and treat the leachate and turn the methane into energy. But this can get expensive. Because of the ever-increasing amounts of trash that consumers generate, the costs associated with maintaining, cleaning up, and building new landfills are on a steady rise. And let’s not forget the environmental impact landfills have on the environment with the new waste that’s generated from landfills. There’s even a huge garbage pit that’s swirling in the Pacific Ocean that’s the size of Texas, now that’s sad.
One of the easiest ways to reduce landfill waste is to simply send less junk to the pile. Through some simple shifts in your daily life, you can reduce your waste output. You can do things to reduce your waste like reusing stuff, start our own at-home and office recycling, and composting systems. Other tips for your green living client include
- Reduce how much they can consume and reuse stuff whenever possible
- Recycle and donate as much as possible to a favorite local charity
- Close the loop, purchase items made from recycled goods
- Bring a mug to work and to the local coffee shop you frequent
- Put cloth bags in the car for the next visit to the grocery store
- Buy products with minimal packaging
- Buy rechargeable batteries
- Stock your office kitchen with reusable dishes, silverware, glassware and napkins
What is Biodegradable?
When an item is described as “biodegradable’, it is describing a product’s ability to break down and return to its natural state after you toss it. However, there are a few catches. In order for something to biodegrade certain conditions need to be met.
Many materials require access to light, water, microorganisms and oxygen for it to biodegrade. If a biodegradable product is put in a landfill that doesn’t have one or more of these components, it is likely the product won’t biodegrade. So if you are using biodegradable trash bags that go to the landfill, it’s a nice thought but it may not help much. But if that bag ends up in the forest or on the side of a road there is a good chance it will biodegrade.
When buying biodegradable products look for a biodegradability date or contact the manufacturer and ask how long will this product take to biodegrade? Many products can biodegrade, but it could take up to 100-200 years which isn’t so helpful in the near future.
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