You've all heard the term landfill before, and we're always talking about reducing the amount of waste ending up in landfill, but what does it actually mean? And why should we be so worried about it?
What is landfill?
When we talk about landfill, we are talking about a specific way that waste and rubbish is disposed of - you put your rubbish in the bin, the bin is collected by your local council, but where does it go next?
In our minds, the rubbish just disappears. But, as we already know, rubbish like plastic won't break down or disappear for hundreds of years.
Landfill is the most common way that our rubbish is dealt with, and the name says it all: we are filling our land with trash.
Huge, deep holes are dug into the ground, and our waste is literally dumped into it.
And these great big holes are filled with anything we chuck in the rubbish bin. And it stays there.
So what's the big deal?
Out of sight, out of mind, right?
Burying our waste in landfill is not a long term solution for waste disposal. Rubbish in landfill breaks down extremely slowly, and generates huge levels of harmful toxins and gases as it does it. We are literally burying our waste and leaving it for future generations to clean up the mess.
The by-products of landfill are literally poisonous, and if they leach into the ground, our waterways or enter the air we breathe, they can be extremely dangerous. There's no coming back from the trash we are putting into the ground. It's poisonous to us, and to our earth, and contributes to the warming climate.
Plus, there is only so much land that can be dedicated to hosting all of our thrown away junk- and we will run out.
And what happens when we run out of space to dump our rubbish?
It gets dumped in places where it shouldn't, where people think it doesn't matter. In third world countries especially, waste is being illegally dumped in low socio-economic areas, where the community is already battling poverty, hunger and pollution. These communities can't speak up or stand up for themselves against the dumping.
When it builds up in these areas, the only thing they can do is burn it. Imagine the smell of burning plastic and trash, every day, in the place you live.
Australians are sending almost 1 tonne per person of rubbish into landfill each year.
And when we're talking about rubbish, we aren't just talking about food wrappers and packaging. We're talking about the clothes we wear, the devices and appliances we use, and yep, you guessed it, the accessories we use for our dogs.
There's no other way to say it: our waste is unsustainable.
We will literally run out of places to put it, the places we do put it will choke our planet and ourselves, and those who are least privileged will pay the price first.
So yeah, it's kinda a big deal.
Here are some things you can do to reduce your contribution to landfill:
⋒ Shop slow and avoid fast fashion - buy products that you can use for a long time
⋒ Buy natural fibre products - natural fibres like cotton and linen are longer lasting, more durable, and can be recycled! Materials like polyester are made from oil, and like all plastics, will take hundreds of years to break down in landfill
⋒ Re-use, recycle and up-cycle the things you buy! Find places you can donate used products that are still in good condition, and let those who are less fortunate give your belongings a second life. Research recyclers in your area - more and more fabric recyclers are popping up where you can send old clothes and textiles to be turned into new fabrics!
Check out these links for more information about landfill, and better ways to dispose of your waste: