Reducing waste is always a large and important topic. Reducing waste can set future generations up for so many better things than we could ever imagine. Children in the future could see mountains with no pollutants in the air, or watch endangered species grow back to healthy numbers. 

How we reduce waste is also an important topic. You can’t help to reduce waste in landfills if you aren’t sure how to recycle, reuse and donate items. The more we use these three pathways, the less manufacturing plants have to make, which ends up in less waste. It is a cycle that only gets better the more it is supported. 

Better Future

Landfills aren’t only impacting the environment because they exist, every piece of trash and waste that are in the landfills mostly comes from manufacturing plants and toxic materials. The manufacturing plants emit dangerous gases and chemicals into the air that affect the atmosphere and clean breathing air. 

By reducing the waste that we make that is usually sent to landfills, the products that are made will also be reduced, and by proxy, the chemicals released into the air will also be reduced. The lower number of products that we purchase, the lower amount of production that happens on the front end of the process. 

If we donate items, people who are struggling to make ends meet, or those who are just needed items, won’t have to purchase anything new, they can save their money for better food or health and this creates a better cycle for them and their future generations. 

Donation and recycling don’t just affect the world you live in, it also affects those who receive your donations or those who can afford something because it is recycled. SImple choices from one person can affect several communities and thousands of generations. 

The fewer pollutants that our air has to endure, the cleaner our air is. While it is a simple thought process, it can create a domino effect that allows future generations to live better, healthier, and easier. 

(Source: Colorado EDU, Solo)

Save Energy And Resources

By not sending waste directly to landfills, we stand a greater chance of saving energy and resources if we recycle. By recycling products, at least the ones we can, we can reduce the materials used which keeps more natural products in the ecosystems where they belong. 

We don’t need to level entire forests and pollute rivers to create things that aren’t going to be used for more than a few months. If we use a few hundred acres to create products, the recycle those instead of making brand new ones, we can save thousands of trees, wildlife, and lives. 

Recycling also ends up saving a significant amount of energy because it uses less to recycle than to create things from scratch. Instead of having to break down entire trees, cure and cut the wood or other materials, you can simply repurpose what you already have in half the time. 

Certain materials can be used to make other objects such as recycled cans, bags, and paper packaging. Where normally we would have to harvest new resources from our ecosystems, you could actually just recycle already used aluminum and paper to make these items instead. 

Instead of creating new products, donating is also another viable option. Donating items to a new family, donation centers, or even your local community can reduce waste in a landfill by almost 10%. It may not seem like a huge number, but even 10% of a change done by a ground of people can create a domino effect to a larger impact from the community. 

(Source: EPA, Toronto Environment)

Climate Change

Climate change is said to be a reason to why our world is being rocked by larger and more dangerous natural disasters. The thought process is that the more pollutants released into the air and the more ecosystems that are disrupted or destroyed, the great upset the atmosphere has. 

Natural disasters are happening because the world is attempting to balance out the negative impacts we have caused. A large disaster can help refresh the air and land to allow wildlife and vegetation to take back over. 

The less pollution we put into the air and the more ecosystems we allow to flourish, the assumption is that the weather and natural disasters would lesson. While we wouldn’t see the impact for quite a while due to the negative impact we have already had, eventually, the atmosphere would balance itself out. 

The largest pollutants that we put into the air are methane gas and leachate. Methane gas is released into the air when certain materials break down in the landfill. Materials that release methane gas when they breakdown are:

  • Food products
  • Wood product
  • Paper products

Methane gas can disrupt the atmosphere and cause raises in temperature over time, which is where most of the climate change comes from. Once the temperature starts rising, our ecosystems and weather patterns are affected which is extremely hard to reverse. 

Leachate is s sludge that gets into our soil and kills wildlife, plants and affects the water supply in surrounding areas. Products that produce, or turn into, leachate is anything that is put into a landfill. The landfill causes a rise in temp which allows for water droplets to settle on everything. 

Once the water droplets combine with enough other droplets, they run down the waste, collecting particles and materials as they move towards the ground. Once the water touches the ground or gets into the water, it is all contaminated. 

(Source: NPR, EEA)

Impacts On Communities

The impact that reducing waste would have on communities is greater than any one person could imagine. For starters, the better air and ecosystems we would be able to exist in would be phenomenal. 

The larger cities that have such high pollution and trash issues would be considered clean and air quality wouldn’t be an issue for anyone. Asthma rates and issues would drastically drop and the general health of people would be drastically better.

The landfills would be reduced in size and environmental impact and all the communities that are surrounding these landfills would have more space for housing or other resources. These communities would also be able to create more recycling centers, therefore reducing the waste even further and creating a better system for future waste reduction.  

(Source: EPA, Toronto Environment)

Positive Financial Impacts

Waste centers create jobs in multiple facets and that is a great addition to any community. However, recycling centers can create the same amount of jobs, in some cases even more, at a higher rate of pay. 

Recycling centers can allow communities that are run down by waste and low pay to have a new outlook on their ability to create a better atmosphere and lifestyle for those in the community. 

Since recycling takes less energy, the financial impact would be significantly less on the government side of things, therefore allowing your taxes to either decrease or be put to use for other outlets that would be better for your community. 

(Source: Colorado EDU, Solo)

Less Space Needed

Recycling centers would take up far less space due to the lack of land needed for waste storage. Landfills can take up hundreds of acres just from needing to store trash that has to breakdown, however, for some materials, this can take a century depending on what it is made from. 

Furthermore, if manufacturing plants needed to make fewer materials, the need for them would also be reduced and we would need to build less. If we used the space from previous, or not needed manufacturing plants we could save the forest, wildlife, and water sources. 

We could use any current manufacturing plants that are not necessary and turn them into recycling plants. If we linked recycling areas up with landfills nearby, we could add jobs that would help recycle and filter through what is already put in the landfills, reducing the space needed for those as well. 

(Source: Environment, Everything Connects)

Wildlife Preservation

If we reduce our waste, it will reduce our impact on the environment allowing our ecosystems to thrive. Now, if our ecosystems can thrive the way nature intended, our wildlife can also live independently of impact from people and their waste patterns. 

One way that wildlife is impacted the most is by the removal of certain species in the natural order. With the waste growing constantly, certain species reduce their breeding due to impacts on their way of life, and therefore their number drop significantly. 

Once the numbers of species drop to certain levels, breeding is almost impossible, and that only causes the numbers to drop more. Once the species is declared endangered, there are preventative measures taken to ensure the survival of the animal. 

However, the impact that our waste and pollution had on the animal is still happening, so eventually, the animal goes entirely extinct. This causes a hole in the natural placement of the food chain breaking down the wildlife impact even further. 

(Source: NPR, EEA)

Recycling Basics

For us to be able to reduce waste by recycling materials, we need to be educated on what can be recycled and how it is recycled. You can’t recycle everything, and the knowledge of what can and can’t be recycled allows us to be mindful of our purchases and make decisions based on what will help the Earth more. 

We can also learn through recycling conversations, the specific materials that create the biggest pollution issues. This can also help us to not waste certain things as much. Even though they aren’t great for the environment, you can repurpose things quite a few times before throwing them out. 

What Can Be Recycled

The most common materials that can be recycled are:

  • Paper products
  • Food and Drink containers (metal, cardboard, or paper)
  • Glass of any kind
  • Plastic Bottles and containers (only hard plastic)

Recycling these items can create an entirely new life for them to be made into other products. Recycling 6 months of these items can reduce excess products being made by 3-5%, while it may not seem like much, that is a huge number when you realize the large quantities that are made daily. 

Now, you can’t recycle everything, unfortunately. The materials that can’t be recycled need to be phased out or replaced with recyclable materials but it is not always possible to do so. So, the things you are not able to recycle are things such as:

  • Plastic bags
  • No recyclables that are in bags
  • No packaging with multiple materials involved
  • Styrofoam
  • Nothing with wax or plastic coatings on it
  • Diapers
  • Clothes
  • Anything that can become tangled or caught on machinery

While it seems like there are a lot more materials that we aren’t able to recycle than those that we can, we can still improve things. Purchasing fewer materials that we can’t recycle causes less of a need for them then they are made less and less get thrown away into landfills. 

This is a cycle that can drastically change the trajectory of our climate for future generations. Changing the outlook on our climate for future generations could be animals getting off the endangered species list, cleaner air, and better communities. 

While we can’t change everything in a day, one by one people can make small changes to their lifestyle to give enough momentum for a lifetime. 

(Source: Waste Management, National Geographic)

Final Thoughts

Landfills are destructive to ecosystems, communities, and our overall climate. The waste products that are caused by the decomposition of waste and the toxic liquids that seep into our water sources can kill off entire ecosystems and species. 

We need to ensure a world for future generations that is better than the one we currently live in. They need better health, better process, better ecosystems, and wildlife numbers. Recycling, reusing, and donating can help with this goal, and can even be the thing that undoes what we have already done.