Landfill sites are full of our single use garbage. From water bottles, clothes, plastic containers, grocery bags, straws, cups and cutlery, diapers, etc. Some find their way into recycling bins (which only a low percentage actually are reused) or they end up littering our grounds and choking our oceans.
“Most American’s make 7 pounds of trash a day“ Edward Humes, author of “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash”
They make it too convenient just to take your trash to the curb.
He states the obvious, we need to have less packaging, use less disposable items, use things longer, make better purchasing decisions that cause less waste.
Landfill sites are managed differently all over the world. Some are engineered well, like the Puente Hills Landfill in Los Angeles, California. People have been dumping there since 1957. Now, a 150 meter garbage skyscraper has been created. New ideas like waste to energy are being considered. Waste would be incinerated, and in turn, would produce energy. This burning process would cause 35% less greenhouse gas than putting it in landfills. It would yield more energy and cause less methane to accumulate in the landfill grounds.
When developed countries let their trash get out of control, a reoccurring nightmare happens. Canada, a country know for many positive attributes, leads the developed world in most trash per capita! Nothing to be proud of here! Canada has over 2400 landfills. There are too many variables to mention. Therefore, there is not a national system in place. The garbage just keeps piling up.
Most third world countries do not have any system in place at all. They do buy less and therefore produce less waste, but, they have not put in place a workable system or they have no systems in place at all.
In the poor nations, trash just seems to build up in waterways and in the middle of populated areas, creating health hazards by polluting the soil and waterways. Both these sources are where they get there drinking water. Wells are contaminated and waterways also can carry the waste out to sea.
Some countries are becoming so industrialized, they are now beginning to purchase more and therefore, produce waste at an alarming rate. China now produces the most waste in the world. The toxic affect in the air causes many citizens to wear face masks in highly populated cities.
The EU (European Union) directive on waste management has caused people to throw less away. In some EU countries as little as 5% of waste actually goes to the dump.
The solution can’t happen quickly enough. We need to hand the recycling materials back to the corporations, who are responsible for much of the single use waste, much like returning bottles and cans.
We need to find alternatives to plastics. Already we see new materials that mimic plastic that are compostable. Fast-food companies like, Booster Juice, has introduced a compostable straw. There is a material called PDK, which is still in the testing stages, that can hopefully be deconstructed and used again without compromising the integrity the high grade plastic.
Till then we still need to deal with the plastic waste from a half a century ago. Almost 80% of those plastics are still with us. The lone inhabitancy of old forgotten dumps, the unnatural objects that are now found on our deepest sea beds, and all the junk you see driving along a road.
As the commercial says “There is no throwing it away”. We have to rethink how we dispose of our trash. Less throwing away and more reusing. Use consumer power to pressure corporations to use alternative materials that are environmentally friendly and to take back their containers to be reused again.