Have you ever gone to your local landfill? That magical place where garbage goes after you put it on the curb. If not, I highly suggest you take a visit. Load up your SUV, truck or trailer with some junk and head on over.
I guarantee if you go, you will never think of your garbage the same way. The first time I went, I was horrified to see what I was doing to our planet. I was now unloading a trailer full of more crap that would sit there for centuries, trying to decompose back to its most basic elemental components.
Incredibly at over 24% the largest component of our landfills is FOOD. Next largest is plastics at almost 19%. Yard trimmings that can usually be composted make up 7%. I’ll talk specifically about food waste in another blogpost. Many plastics we think are being recycled actually go into landfills because they lack a secondary market or are too difficult to recycle.
As recycling programs improve, there have been less things like glass and cardboard put into the landfill. Unfortunately our use of plastic is outpacing the recycling capability so more plastic is going into our landfills than ever before. Food waste into landfills has increased by 75% since 1990.
I urge you to go check out your local landfill. Think about each piece of garbage you put in that bag. Think about how billions of people do this every single day and what the garbage pile on our planet must look like.
Yes we need the landfill and yes we will continue to produce materials that we need to discard. Start by creating a compost bin for your fruit and vegetable scraps, and your yard trimmings. This alone will help immensely with our landfill problem. Also make sure you are recycling everything you can.
Knowing where your garbage goes is the first step in making life changes that can reduce our footprint on this Earth. Remember every time you buy something new and discard the old, you are contributing to the huge pile of decaying waste that will take centuries or millennia to break down.