Published Jan 20, 2015
Landfills are where garbage is destined to go once it’s carted away, but they are far from the most environmentally friendly places to send waste. Space is limited, and most landfills aren’t very good at encouraging decomposition. Fortunately, there are a few ways that you can help cut down on the amount of waste that gets shuttled off to landfills.
While most landfills are too cool and dry to encourage biodegradable materials to break down, compost piles are warm, moist, and aerated enough to do just that. Most biodegradable items can be composted, including paper, cardboard, wood, pet hair, and kitchen scraps, though things like pet waste and meat scraps are best avoided.
Recycling helps keep raw materials in circulation through several product life cycles. It’s also great for saving energy; it takes 95% less energy to create a can from recycled metal than it does from ore. Even if curbside recycling isn’t an option, supporting companies that choose to recycle industrial materials and reuse recycled goods is a great way to keep reusable items out of landfills. Paper, some plastics, glass, aluminum, steel, electronics, batteries, rubber tires and light bulbs can all be recycled.
Avoiding single-use products helps limit landfill waste by generating less trash. A cloth can do the work of hundreds of paper towels, and a reusable water bottle can outlive thousands of disposables. Choose multi-use alternatives wherever they’re available.
Using Concentrated Products
Some products, like beverages and household cleaners, are available in concentrated forms that must be mixed with water before use. Items like these let you get several more uses out of the same container than conventional products. Where a bottle of conventional cleaner might contain enough product for ten or so washes, a bottle of concentrated cleaner may yield a hundred before needing to be replaced.
A lot of items destined for landfills still work just fine. Wearable clothing, for example, is often thrown away because it’s faded or shrunk. Donating items that still work helps keep them out of landfills while making them available to those who need them.
Though landfills serve a vital purpose, space for them is not an infinite resource. Most items are able to be reused or recycled in some fashion, and there are usually alternative disposal methods available for those that are not. By choosing the right products and recycling, composting, or donating, you can reduce the amount of landfill space you generate.