a case for recycling

Field trip to the landfill

Honor had a field trip on Monday to our county landfill. I volunteered to go, not imagining that it would be any fun, but it was actually pretty fascinating. Our county’s landfill is housed on 1500 acres of land, but the planned “footprint” for the actual landfill is 127 acres. It’s currently at 60 acres and they plan to have it full by 2030. According to the landfill’s website, they take in 9lbs of trash per person per day!

It was interesting how the landfill works. They pack trash into sections (I think she said 30’x30′ sections) separated by layers of dirt. After they have reached the top of the section it’s covered over with dirt. Once the landfill is complete, the land can be used for other purposes, even parks.

We learned about how things breakdown in a landfill. Because of the way it is basically packed underground without much air or moisture and especially because we live in such a dry climate, things take FOREVAH to break down. Here’s the list she told the kids about:

Banana peels – 6mo-1year
Hot dog – 10 years
paper – 40 years
soup can – 80 years
diaper – 100 years
soda can or plastic water bottle – 500 years
styrofoam and plastic grocery bags – probably never

I’m a pretty avid recycler, but this these reminders really renewed my passion for recycling. I couldn’t believe that PAPER would take so long to break down in a landfill. It breaks down so quickly in my compost pile! I just don’t see any reason to waste resources and leave trash behind longer than we will be on earth! Especially when recycling is so easy – it just requires a bit of organization and then it takes no more work than throwing things away.

I’ve heard so many arguments against recycling… Sure the recycling system isn’t perfect, especially here. And yes it does cost a little more (for me it’s $2.50 a month) but things that are good for us tend to cost a little more.

I’m going to be thinking about this and writing about this more later but here are my initial thoughts:

•no more ziplocs for lunches – most everything can go in a reusable container or packed in unbleached waxed paper bags that I get at Vitamin Cottage. Bonus points if the kids bring them back home from school and they can go in the compost.

•throw things like popsicle sticks directly into the outdoor fireplace for starting fires. bonus points for making popsicles in reusable containers.

•Find out if I can recycle bread bags with grocery bags. What about the bags that come in cereal boxes?

•Try really hard to only buy products that come in containers that can either be reused or recycled.

More to come.

How does your family recycle? Do you have any ideas for me? And I encourage you, dear reader, to recycle if you don’t.

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