After disposing of your waste, does it ever come to your mind where all these trashes go? While some of us know they are intended to rest in landfill sites, not all of us understand the problems related to it. According to experts and environmentalists, the earth is running out of landfill space.

When we think of landfills, we see it as an enormous hole gradually filled up with trash. It is divided into smaller cells that should be sealed once it becomes full. As the waste in the cell rots, it will then release CO2 and Methane gas that can be used to generate electricity.

As the entire landfill becomes full, it will be used for another purpose such as football pitches, vegetation or golf course. However, because of the garbage underneath, there are some restrictions as to how the land can further develop.

But the majority of us don’t really think about all of this, since we don’t deliver it to the landfill ourselves. In fact nearly all household who tidy up and collect waste for disposal, do so by hiring a skip bin from their local hire places. This is not surprising since there are many cheap hire places nearby.

 

landfill waste

 

The Problem with Landfills

Most household waste from the 1920s to 1970s ended up in human-made craters all over the country. Thus, they resulted to environmental disasters. Decomposing trash produces a thick liquid called “leachate” that go down directly to the soil and groundwater. The leachate can contain hazardous chemicals while rotting garbage releases a significant amount of greenhouse gases straight into the atmosphere.

Fortunately, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act in 1976 was passed into law which changed the way people store their trash. Landfill operators are required to have disposal facilities including a subterranean piping system that will collect the leachate to be hauled in sewage treatment plans. Likewise, the facility should have vent system to reduce the production of greenhouse gases.

Loose waste is another issue with landfills. It attracts diseases-carrying insects such as flies. Thus, it should have a cover all the time. Moreover, the technological advancements of designing and operating modern landfills are becoming more and more expensive. Hence, landfill operators tend to create mega landfills.

Should we fill the Landfills?

According to EPA, as of 1996, around 55% of the United States’ trashes are in landfills while only 28% of recycled items. There is particular garbage that shouldn’t be in landfills such as hazardous materials like thinner, paint, batteries, electronic items, and household cleaners. Instead of including them in the usual garbage collection schedule in your area, take to a hazardous waste drop-off site.

Still, it is necessary that we reduce the amount of waste we generate daily to lessen the garbage in our landfill sites.

In our pursuit of happiness, we tend to spend more on things that aren’t necessities. Whenever we received our salary, commissions or bonus at work, most of us choose to go shopping or treat ourselves to movie, spa or dinner or to buy new gadgets. According to some economists, the best indicator of a healthy society is the level of happiness of the citizens.

Apparently, allocation of resources such money is a serious issue due to a logical assumption that spending our money in purchasing items or products will make us happier compared when using it for a vacation. Likewise, we are most probably to buy new personal stuff or household materials instead of reducing it.

We won’t argue on how you should spend your hard-earned money, but we just want you to think long and hard if “should I buy this one?” It could mean a lot of reduction. From the foods we eat to the makeup, clothes, toys and kitchen wares we buy to the quantity of cleaning supplies we are using, we should be asking the same question.

Reducing what we are Buying 

Recycling isn’t just sufficient to help the environment. We have to reduce, reuse and upcycle things. Remember, everything that we purchase, whether they are essential commodities or commercial products comes in packaging materials such as plastics, Styrofoam or cardboard boxes. All these are consuming raw materials and resources.

While these materials are subject to recycling process, they still have a waste footprint. And the reprocessing itself requires using another set of raw materials and natural resources. The cycle goes on. Meanwhile, recycled cardboard, aluminum, glass, and plastic were being sold for less, but the cost of processing these materials stay the same.

Why consuming less has a sense of undercurrent of resistance? It is only because of our shared habit of buying new things or products instead of using reusable or secondhand items. We believe that unless we understand our reasons for buying so many things, we will never actually realize that we have more than enough of it.

Moreover, we should be able to understand why these things keep coming to our doorsteps so we can efficiently organize and curate it.  Most of the houses are overflowing with kinds of stuff, so we are not buying a thing to fill some space. We have various debts or loans to pay, so we don’t buy things just to burn money. Hence, the next time we are in a grocery store or a fashion stall, ask yourself again.

Life satisfaction and happiness still come to experiences that we shared with other people. We all should enjoy the fruit of our labor, but it should not be at the expense of nature.