The city is considering canceling all waste pickup services. Now, you will have to dig a giant hole in your yard and put all your waste in there. Sounds ridiculous, right? Your yard is only so big, and you have so much trash it would fill the hole pretty quick. Not to mention the smell and the bugs/rodents it would attract.
Well, this is what we all do everyday. It's just that you don't see the hole, or smell the smell, or deal with the bugs. You throw your trash 'away', and someone comes to take it 'away'. But where is 'away'? And why does society deem it acceptable to have that exact same ridiculous hole somewhere else on a much larger scale? That hole is your local landfill. Organized city dumps have only been around since the 1920's. Guess what that timeframe corresponds with? It's about the same time as when people started inventing disposables and using plastic. That pretty much explains what those giant holes in the ground have been filling up with for the past 90 years. Click this link http://www.bfi-salinas.com/kids_trash_timeline-printer.cfm to read a really interesting "Timeline of Trash".
There are often cities that realize the need to build a new landfill, but when they make the public announcement and solicit feedback, no one wants the landfill near them. That phenomenon even has its own phrase called NIMBY...not in my backyard. So where do you put it? You find some far away 'empty' spot that the public doesn't have to look at, and you put it there. Why is that any better? Those landfills are HUGE. Someone has to clear all of the natural plant and animal habitat out of an area just so humans can put their trash there. Here are some stats we obtained about the landfill where the MCC trash goes:
- The Salt River Landfill receives trash only from Mesa, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and two nearby Indian communities.
- It is approximately 145 acres in land area. To put that into perspective, a football field is about an acre.
- In that space, the trash will be piled 180 feet deep. 100 feet of that will be below ground, and 80 feet above ground.
- It started being filled in 1993 and is expected to be full around 2020.
- 1,900 tons of waste is put into the landfill each day.
- Once any landfill is 'full', it must be closed and then monitored for dangerous emissions and water contamination for THIRTY YEARS before the land can be reused.
- MCC is facilitating a tour of that landfill and its adjoining recycling facility...visit our Facebook Event page for MCC Recycle or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Well, for starters, we only need landfills because of our own actions. Take a look at your lifestyle and what you throw 'away' each day. You will find that most of the things you throw away were just packages for something else. And, look at what that something else was...you will probably find it was one of two things...something disposable or food.
Packaging waste is a large and unnecessary part of our waste stream. According to the EPA, packaging is approximately 1/3 of our household waste stream. EPA also says that 28 countries have laws designed to help reduce packaging waste. But guess what? The US is NOT one of them. How can that be? We are the biggest consumers in the world!!
By now you are probably thinking, "I do my part...I recycle.". But did you know that recycling is the LEAST preferred method to handle the waste problem in our country? Think of the phrase "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle". That phrase is worded that way for a reason...your first goal should always be to REDUCE the amount of waste you create in the first place. This will save natural resources. Everytime you buy something, consider buying it used (this automatically also covers the second part of the phrase...REUSE). That way, you reduced the resources used to make a new item, plus reduced the packaging waste that comes with a new item. If you must buy new, look at how it is packaged. Check the label and make sure packaging is both made from recycled materials and is itself recyclable. Check into the company that makes the products. Your purchases keep them in business. Take a stand and encourage them to be more environmentally responsible. This can be for something as cheap as gum or pencils to something as expensive as plasma TVs. Most companies will follow the consumer dollars.
Another way to REDUCE your waste: buy large sizes, and don't buy disposables. Don't buy paper towels to wipe off your kitchen counter...use a wet rag or sponge that you can wash and reuse. Don't grab a new fork and spoon in the cafe every time you go in there...bring your own metal ones, or wash and reuse your disposables until they break. Don't buy a few of the small bottles of shampoo, buy the biggest one. Don't buy the individual sized bag of chips...buy the biggest bag you can find and then portion it out into small reusable containers to bring with you. Or better yet, get healthy! Eat lots of fruits and veggies as snacks instead of the greasy chips...there is usually no packaging for fruits and veggies. (Read the previous blog post about Gardens for more details about that.)
Do everything you can to REDUCE your waste. REUSE things as much as you can. And then, finally, when there are no other options, RECYCLE. Compete with friends or family members to see who can generate the least amount of trash in a week. But no matter what, try your best to reduce the amount of trash you generate, because one day, that landfill might end up in your own backyard.