1. Trash is becoming a larger and larger problem for us and for the environment. As we continue to waste more and more, we use more natural resources and increase pollution in our world.
2. In most of the world, including North America, we do one of two things with our ordinary garbage: burn it or bury it. Neither one is good for us or for the environment.
3. Burning garbage in incinerators releases dangerous gases and dust (particulate matter) which contribute to global warming and pollute lakes, forests, oceans and cities half a world away from where they originated. Most incinerators in industrialized countries now remove large quantities of particles and pollutants, thus ensuring cleaner air. But the bulk of what they remove ends up in a landfill.
4. Burying garbage also causes both air and water pollution, and simply transporting it to the sites consumes an increasing amount of valuable fossil fuels, which produces more pollution and other problems.
5. Buried in a landfill, the typical plastic trash bag takes 1,000 years to degrade, giving off toxins as it does.
6. Wet garbage, including yard waste which is 50 to 70 % water, adds to the toxic stew of chemicals — household cleaners, antiperspirants, nail polish, paint and so on — that mixes in a landfill.
7. In old, unlined landfills, this leachate, diluted and made more mobile by rainwater, percolated down to the bottom of the fill. There, it would sink into the soil, spreading downwards and outwards in a characteristic brush-stroke shape known as a plume, contaminating soil and water as it moved.
8. Closing a landfill or capping it with cement does not stop its plume from advancing. Modern, sanitary landfills are usually lined to prevent such pollution and the leachate is drawn off and treated. However, it is naive to assume that a liner will never fail.
9. Air pollution may seem an unlikely consequence of landfills, but in fact it is a major problem. The primary culprit is anything organic such as yard and food waste.Waste at landfills is usually compressed to save space.
Each day’s deposit is covered with a layer of dirt to discourage insects and rodents and to help shed rain and thus minimize leachate. So far, so good. But the result is an almost oxygen-free environment. When organic materials decompose in such anaerobic conditions they produce methane, a greenhouse gas.
10. Since composting produces carbon dioxide, another greenhouse gas, it’s reasonable to suspect that the compost/landfill choice is a classic six-of-one, half-dozen-of-the-other situation. The first produces carbon dioxide, the second produces methane. What’s the difference between them? Is it really worth the time and effort to keep organics out of landfills?. Methane is twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide.
11. What is the scope of the waste problem? The United States, China, Brazil, Japan and Germany are the leading trash generators. The U.S. produced about 228 million tons of waste in 2006, a figure that climbed to 254 tons by 2013. China (with a population around four times larger than that of the U.S.) is close behind, with 190 million tons of waste per year.
12. The more urbanized and industrialized a country becomes, the more trash it produces, Ijjasz-Vasquez said. The United Nations Environment Program predicts the amount of waste will probably double in lower-income African and Asian cities as a result of population growth, urbanization and rising consumption.
13. Why are many Americans oblivious to being serial waste generators? “Because we’re not seeing it, we think it’s not a problem” Unlike most utilities, such as gas, water and electricity, that are charged depending on how much is used, it works differently for waste. Because most cities and towns charge a flat fee for trash service or include it within the property tax, most Americans pay little attention to the amount of waste they are discarding.
14. “By taking our waste away from us so efficiently, it makes us more inclined to dispose more.
15. Shocking Facts about your Garbage
a. More Than 100 Tons of Waste for Every American
b. Bottled Water Is the “Grandfather of Wasteful Industries.”
c. Food Waste Is a Problem Too
d. Disposables Are a Drain
e. Trash Is Expensive
f. Carpet Waste Alone Is Astounding: Americans throw away 5.7 million tons of carpet every year.
g. Paper Waste Is a Shame