Related Web Sites
Read facts about this New York City landfill and view a landfill map.
Precycling: How to Shop for Future Generations
Tips to help you make environmentally responsible choices when
Games and information about recycling, created by the EPA.
The Compost Resource
An in-depth guide to composting resources on the Web, including sites on
vermicomposting, and composting toilets.
Possible Solutions for Solid Waste
We do have some
solutions, options that let us meet our current needs and provide for
future generations as well. Our most promising alternatives are waste reduction and
Waste Reduction: Stop Throwing Things
A simple and obvious choice is to cut back on the amount of
waste by using and throwing out less in the first place. Some states have
adopted regulatory strategies to discourage dependence on landfills. In
1990, for example, California enacted a law that established a baseline
for the amount of solid waste its cities and towns send to
By 1995, that amount was to be reduced by 25 percent; by the year 2000,
by 50 percent. California now diverts more than 25 percent of its waste,
resulting in disposal of approximately 33 million tons per year. Such
heavy cuts are usually accomplished by recycling.
Waste Reduction: Use Less Packaging
Packaging is one of the major sources of waste paper and plastics.
According to EarthWorks Groups, it accounts for approximately one-third of
all the garbage Americans send to landfills. Packaging should be minimal.
Its production should be environmentally clean and it should be made up of
materials that can be reused or recycled repeatedly. Some packaging is
purposely elaborate to make the contents more attractive--cosmetics are
notorious for this. Smart buyers can
support the use of environmentally friendly packaging by purchasing products with minimal packaging or with packaging made of
recycled or recyclable materials.
Recycling: Turning Waste Material into
Recycling works, and it does so in several ways. It reduces the monetary
and environmental costs of landfilling and incineration. It substitutes
used materials for virgin materials, thereby reducing the demand for
resources. It conserves energy. And it creates jobs in the community.
Many U.S. communities now actively recycle. Common
- Curbside recycling containers. The community provides containers in
which individual families deposit such materials as newspapers; glass
and jars; tin and aluminum containers; plastic bottles and bags; mixed
waste paper (cardboard, phone books, magazines, junk mail, office
brown bags); and used motor oil. The community arranges for curbside
pickup and delivery to a recycling facility.
- Drop-off recycling zones. Groups of large recycling bins are
on public property in one or more locations throughout the
- Recycling centers. The community provides the center itself and
residents to drop off or sell refuse materials there.
- Green waste diversion and composting programs. Leaves, grass
and other organic waste materials are composted and used to enrich soil
or as mulch or landfill cover.
Is there a downside to recycling?
Opponents of recycling argue that recycled goods are more expensive and that recycling takes away needed jobs. However, as more consumers choose to purchase recycled products and as recycling technology improves, the cost of these goods goes down, making them more competitive in the marketplace. And while diverting materials from landfills does take away disposal jobs, these jobs are often replaced by jobs in the growing recycling industry.
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