Landfills are large designated areas where trash and garbage are dumped. Depending on the landfill facility, some may have procedures in place that can sort and recycle some of the trash in these landfills. Regardless of how much trash is in a landfill, it can have a negative effect on our environment and the world around us. This is why so many products today are being marketed as earth-friendly or recyclable. How can landfills hurt our environment?
Rotting food and other matter can trap twenty times as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as that of the sun's heat. They can also emit methane, a harmful gas that can cause warmer temperatures in the air. In addition, stirred up chemicals and dust can get into the air, and if you multiply the amount of debris in the air times the number of landfills on the planet, it can be quite a frightening thought. Anyone living near a landfill can breathe in dangerous gases, chemicals, and other substances.
When it rains, all of the noxious chemicals found in household cleaners, discarded medication, and plastic runs off into the water supply. These chemicals can reach waterways and poison naturally growing plants, fish, and other animals that live in or near it. When animals and plants begin to die off or get sick, major disruptions in the natural life cycle of the local environment can occur. This also means that there is a distinct possibility of these emissions getting into the water supply as well.
For areas with drier conditions, landfills can pose a serious threat of fires. As piles of garbage sit in the warm sun with little rain, the risk of a major fire is imminent. If not contained, these landfill fires could reach surrounding woodlands, resulting in a wildfire. Since landfills produce methane, a highly combustible gas, there is an even higher risk of fire. There are often so many chemicals in landfills that traditional fire fighting methods like dousing them with water will not be effective.
What to Do
Everyone has a role to play when it comes to helping stave off some of the problems caused by landfills. Take anything recyclable to a local recycling center. Use cloth totes and re-usable shopping bags when you go to the grocery store. Try to purchase items that are sold in biodegradable containers. Every small thing we do as an individual can really add up and help to prevent the excessive amount of trash each household contributes to the local landfill every year.
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