Landfills – What’s That Stench?

What have you thrown in the trash today? A used water bottle? An old newspaper? Maybe a few plastic bags? With society being so busy and distracted, we rarely think about where that pile of junk mail ends up. In case you haven’t noticed where I’m going with this, it’s the city landfill.

Each year, we generate approximately 250 million tons of garbage, and sadly, only about 30% of that is being recycled. So that means roughly 175 million tons of trash end up in our landfills in just one year! The number of landfills is decreasing while the amount of trash continues to skyrocket- where in the world are we going to put all this garbage?!

There are a few alternatives to landfills including anaerobic digestion, mechanical biological treatment, pyrolysis, and plasma arc gasification. These all sound well and good, but they are much more costly and time consuming than good ol’ recycling. Each ton of recycled aluminum cans can save the energy equivalent of approximately 185 gallons of gasoline- think about that the next time you finish a soda. There are also a number of other objects that end up in a landfill rather than being recycled or composted. Many different types of glass, mixed paper, plastic bottles, steel cans, dry cell batteries, motor oil, leaves and grass clippings, and product packaging should all avoid the trash can. You have all heard recycling advice before, but have you actually done it? Stop buying plastic water bottles and start using that aluminum one your sister got you for your birthday. Quit throwing out those glass beer bottles and start bringing them in when you grocery shop. You’ll save a whole ninety cents on your bill. And start giving your unused coupons to that woman down the street who won’t go to the store without them. She’ll thank you for it.

In case I haven’t tickled your brain cells enough, I’ll leave you with one last fun fact to think about. There are only two man-made structures on our planet that are large enough to be seen from outer space. One is the Great Wall of China and the other…is the Fresh Kills landfill, located in Staten Island.





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