Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Prolonging Landfill Life

Landfills only have a finite amount of space to hold trash and that means they can only last so long. One thing cities are trying to do is prolong the life of landfills.

Traditional landfills compact the trash to get more trash in a limited amount of space. The downside is that this reduces the oxygen in the ground which reduces the decomposition rate of the trash. This means it takes even longer for the trash to decompose. One answer to this problem is the Bioreactor Landfill. The bioreactor speeds up the decomposition rate so that the trash breaks down faster and makes room for more trash in the landfill.

But there are many efforts to keep things out of the landfill in the first place. And that starts with each of us.

#1: Precycling. Become more conscious of waste before we make it. Better than disposable, use re-usable supplies. For example, instead of paper towels and napkins use cloth napkins and towels. Use real dishes and utensils instead of paper plates and plastic cutlery. Basically, think how our grandparents may have done it, before there were disposable items readily available. Bring your own bags to the store.

#2: Recycling or Relifing. Put things back in the supply line, not the landfill. Most everything is recyclable now – plastic (#1-7), aluminum cans, food cans, food boxes, even glass. Or donate these items to an Education Recycling center. Items like 2 –liter bottles and potato chip canisters get a new life in arts & crafts and education projects. This is especially great for businesses that have lots of stuff they can’t use – like old letter head or file folders or containers. Don’t dump them, donate them.

#3: Composting. This is definitely Environmentalism 400. There’s no use putting organic waste in the landfill. Compost it in your kitchen, yard or garden and return those nutrients to the soil. Food scraps, leftovers, egg shells, fruit peelings, bones, fat and grease are all organic food waste. With the help of earthworms, they’ll help you get rid of all of that mess.

Alright, do what you can to help us sustain our urban communities now and for the the future.

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