Are you tired of seeing the streets littered with yesterday’s garbage?
Do you think about the impact the disposable cup your coffee came in every time you throw one into the garbage can?
Worried you won’t be able to share some of your favorite nature spots with your kids because they’ll be too polluted in the coming years?
You’re not alone. A recent survey found that younger shoppers have been actively avoiding buying things they enjoy, like baked goods, because of the waste it creates.
But there are other ways to cut back on waste that doesn’t involve you giving up your morning coffee and muffin.
How can humans reduce the number of landfills that scatter our planet? Why is it important to do this in the first place?
We know landfills are bad, but how bad are they really?
One of the biggest problems with landfills is letting them fill up with electronic waste. You’ve seen the special drop off sites for electronic waste, or e-waste.
But what is about electronics makes them bad to throw away with the rest of our garbage?
Electronics use lots of toxic substances that are harmless until they are exposed to the environment. The pressure and moisture of a landfill doesn’t take long to crack open even the most rugged devices.
Arsenic, acids, and lead are all common ingredients in most electronics. When these items go to landfills these toxic substances can leak out of electronics and eventually into our water supply.
Studies show long term exposure to landfills can have devastating health effects on the local population.
The most common side effect is a weakened immune system, leaving locals vulnerable to infections.
And because landfills are breeding grounds for bacteria, the chances of someone living near one coming into contact with harmful bacteria is higher than the general population.
Unfortunately, many developing and third world countries are still burning much of their garbage.
On top of releasing tons of harmful gasses, their landfills often don’t have the engineering behind them needed to keep them safe.
Landfill fires and groundwater contamination are even more common in these parts of the world.d
When food and other organic matter gets packed down into landfills, it forms methane gas. Methane is 25 times stronger than carbon when it comes to insulating the planet.
Methane is extremely flammable and often the cause of landfill fires. On average, 8,300 landfill fires blaze up every year.
These fires are especially dangerous because they have access to some of the most dangerous chemicals.
Formaldehyde is one of the most common chemicals landfill fires release. The American Cancer Society warns that exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to cancer in lab mice.
Reducing waste is easy if you make a few adjustments. Here are some of the easiest ways to get started on a greener lifestyle:
On top of these quick fixes, you can start collecting old clothes to tear up for rags. One ton of paper towels create ten tons of polluted water.
Using old rags and washing them regularly still uses way less water than paper towels and don’t pollute the water they’re washed in.
Switching out your showerheads with low-flow fixtures is another cheap and easy way to reduce your impact.
If you can afford it, switch your bigger appliances to energy-efficient models. Toilets, washing machines, and dishwashers are all appliances that use a lot of energy.
Make them your first priority when budgeting for a greener lifestyle.
Composting is the best way of reducing waste because anyone can do it. Recycling requires expensive equipment before you can get anything usable out of recyclable materials.
All you need for composting is a system of buckets to move batches of compost through the different stages of decomposition.
Over 40% of America’s supply goes straight into the trash. We can cut down on thousands of pounds of garbage headed for the landfill just by converting our food scraps into a buffet for worms.
You might be intimidated by the thought of composting. It might bring up bad memories of your college friend’s compost bucket guarded by a swarm of fruit flies.
But composting has many benefits when it comes to reducing waste. It also cuts down on the number of chemical fertilizers needed which ultimately go back into our water supply.
Compost can even be used to heal soil that’s been contaminated by hazardous waste. The added nutrients can make the uninhabitable habitable once again.
While compost can help reduce our average waste by thousands of pounds, we need to be aware of what we can’t compost.
Throwing in items that won’t break down will ruin your entire compost batch.
Items that can’t be composted:
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