How Long Until Your Garbage is Gone? How Does Waste Break Down In Our Environment?

 

For years now we've been developing systems through education, policy, and reforms to ensure the safety and stability of systems disposing our garbage to ensure limited environmental impacts. From these efforts we've reshaped how we live our day to day lives and how consumer cultures adapt with increased waste products. Through recycling initiates, environmental standards acts, green alternatives vs. traditional ways, etc, we're starting to see some impact, even through the activities of junk removal services like JUSTJUNK®.  

 

Though it may take years of these practices to undo the damage of the past, many people are making it their mission to preserve our environment for years to come. This often brings to question, what exactly goes on inside of a landfill? Soiled paper products, empty food cans and banana peels have the ability to go many places after you dispose of them. Recycling centres, incinerators or even a compost piles are a great start, but more than half of North America's garbage is bound for a landfill, according to the National Solid Wastes Management Association.

 

In a typical landfill, tightly packed piles of waste are sealed under a rubber/clay barrier over a liner that keeps liquids from seeping out.  

 

Landfills are not designed to break down waste, only to store it. This is often a misconception for people when they are throwing their trash away. Generally, garbage in a landfill will decompose at a slower rate, in a sealed oxygen-free environment. Due to the lack of oxygen, bacteria in the waste produce methane gas which is highly flammable and dangerous if allowed to collect underground for a long time. This is also the greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming and other climate change symptoms.  

 

Below is a list of some regular household items that we use everyday that have larger environmental impacts than you may think:

 

Aluminum Cans

 

Aluminum cans take 80-200 years in landfills to become completely decomposed. Every day, more than 120,000 aluminum cans are recycled in North America alone.

 

Disposable Diapers

 

Every year more than 18 billion disposable diapers are thrown out. Disposable diapers can take approximately 250-500 years to decompose in landfills. As a result, programs offering diaper and absorbent product recycling have popped up across the world to eliminate the waste and impact caused by diapers.

 

Food Waste

 

By far, food waste is the largest waste item in North American landfills. The amount of time it will take food  to decompose depends on what type it is. Normally, an lemon peel takes 6 months but an apple core or a banana peel takes around one month to decompose. An important component of food recycling is having the proper housing for its disposal, such as compost bins or organic reuse options.

 

5 Tips to Help!

 

Here are some ideas on how to reduce your ecological-footprint:

  1. Buy organic if you can, or locally-grown produce.
  2. Keep doors and windows shut when heating or cooling the house/car.
  3. Carpool when where you are going is too far to walk.
  4. Buy products with the least amount of packaging possible- buy in bulk or in big boxes rather than in individually wrapped containers.
  5. Run only full loads in your dishwasher or washing machine.

With this knowledge we are able to build a clean, green environment for years to come!

 

Read more here!

 

http://ipm.uconn.edu/pa_curriculum/4-5/supplements/handouts/6_1_1Handout01.pdf
http://www.greendiary.com/10-practical-ways-clean-environment.html
http://simple-green-organic-happy.blogspot.ca/2012/02/ways-to-keep-environment-clean.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/23/environment-facts_n_4318799.html