Landfills are a necessary part of our lives. Can you imagine what things would look like if we didn’t have a place to dump and dispose of all the garbage that we humans produce? The act of burying garbage is the oldest method of controlled waste disposal and is still the most popular method used around the world today.
Environmental Impacts of Landfills
Unfortunately, there are some rather large costs associated with landfills. The impacts can differ: access roads damaged by heavy vehicles; scavengers (rats, birds, other animals, and even people) being killed; irritants such as dust, pests, noise and odor.
In addition to what could be considered small nuisances, there is also a rather large impact that landfills have on the environment. Landfills cause pollution to the local environment by contaminating the groundwater and aquifers, contaminating the soil, and producing methane.
Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide (CO2). As you may know, greenhouse gasses are said to be the leading cause of global warming.
Landfill methane is created when organic materials (such as food scraps, paper, and yard waste) decompose.
What Can We Do To Reduce Landfill Methane
As Americans we live in one of the most developed countries in the world and because of our so called ‘throw away society’ we are one of the largest contributors or organic materials going into landfill sites. Not only does this increase of household waste lead to more greenhouse gasses being emitted, but we contribute more greenhouse gases to transport that waste to landfill sites.
The best way to reduce the amount of methane being produced by landfills is to take steps to reduce the amount of organic materials going to the landfill in the first place. Some things that we can do to reduce the amount of landfill methane being produced:
Composting-by properly composting your kitchen waste, you can ensure that as the kitchen waste decomposes, it forms carbon dioxide instead of methane and thus have less of a greenhouse gas impact. You can also compost your yard waste.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle-buy products with less packaging, recycle everything that you can in your area, and instead of throwing out items that you no longer have a use for, see if there someone else that could use it.
A large amount of the waste that ends up in landfills can be used for other things with far less damaging effects on the environment. The best way to reduce the amount of household waste going to the landfills where it can produce greenhouse gasses is to reduce, reuse, and recycle as much waste as possible. Waste not want not.