Welcome to my 'Green Waste and Recycling' post!
First of all, I must congratulate you for taking the time to do your research on this topic of green living. Recycling is an essential part of the overall waste management system, which involves collecting and processing waste materials. With little or no recycling, people would throw away these materials, which will affect human health, animals, plant species, and the environment.
Aiming to shut down 25% of the coal power plants, reducing vehicle usage by two-thirds, and using 80% less electricity in homes seem a little daunting. On the other hand, recycling is accessible and easy action people can do every day and this certainly makes a lot of difference.
Through recycling, we can convert waste materials into reusable items. This helps decrease the consumption of natural resources and conserve energy. Used glass, plastic bottles, and newspapers can be recycled effectively to make useful items.
As a qualified teacher, I am passionate about education and the impact it can have on bettering our future. It is down to us individuals to do our research and make small changes to the way we live our lives.
These small changes are easy to make and can have a big impact on our health, the health of our family and our environment. This website is designed for everyday people looking to make these changes. Here you will learn a legitimate way to go green.
Let me be completely transparent with you, I am not here to pitch or sell anything to you. I am here to reveal and to assist you on your journey of going green!
The Problem with Landfill...
Landfill sites are places where trash, garbage, and other waste materials are collected and dumped into the ground. Some of these things might never disintegrate. Landfill causes air and land pollution. Some of the main sources of landfill site emission are:
- The solid waste material brought onto landfill sites in heavy goods trucks.
- Waste materials are blown by the wind as they are deposited or tipped at the site.
- Landfill surface generates dust when waste is unloaded or tipped.
- Previously deposited waste material in landfills.
- The emission of gases with the breakdown of waste (usually not collected and treated).
- The production of leachate as the waste material breaks down.
Potential pathways for exposure of people
People living in areas where landfills are poorly maintained can suffer serious health consequences. They are exposed to air pollution. For example, short-term exposure to increased levels of hydrogen sulfide and ammonia in the air nearby the landfill site can cause nasal blockage, coughing, weight loss, difficulties in sleeping, asthma, irritation of nose, throat, and eyes as well as nausea, headache, and breathing difficulties.
In addition to air pollution, exposure to hazardous material or chemicals leached from these sites can come from groundwater, soil, and air too. Decomposition of waste materials can leach toxic substances like heavy metals and chlorides into the soil, which are picked up by rainwater and eventually distributed to drinking water resources, affecting both people and animals.
The emissions of methane and CO2 from the landfill site create reduced levels of oxygen which can cause health effects such as fatigue, poor coordination, unconsciousness, vomiting, nausea, faster heartbeats, and other respiratory disorders. According to the EPA, landfill site leachate can cause developmental anomalies as well as surface and groundwater contamination worldwide. Health effects from exposure to harmful waste can include genetic mutations, low-birth weight, birth defects, and cancer.
Some landfill sites also practice incineration as a method of waste disposal. The burning of landfill site gasses can cause emission of harmful chemicals in the atmosphere, which are benzene, vinyl chloride, methylene chloride, dichloroethane, mercury, and dioxin – all of them are highly carcinogenic. These chemicals can cause lung damage, liver damage, and cancer. At the same time, the aforementioned chemicals are harmful to our nervous, reproductive, digestive, and respiratory systems of humans and animals.
Landfill gases that seep through the ground soil and into the atmosphere are comprised of a large number of gases. The majority of these gases are CO2 and methane and makeup 98% of the landfill site gas. The remaining 2% of the gases include oxygen, nitrogen, sulfides, ammonia, etc.
Sulfides, methane, ammonia, and Co2 are of concern and have impacts on our environment. These gases contribute to climate change, the displacement of oxygen, and ground-level ozone. Similarly, higher levels of methane can cause explosive or fire hazard conditions in nearby buildings because methane is highly flammable.
The surrounding environment of dumpsites gets severely damaged. Harmful chemicals and contaminants in the garbage mix into soil and water. This causes soil and water pollution, which in turn harms fish and plants in our waterways.
When waste material mixes with rainwater, it leads to the formation of leachate, which is poisonous and highly dangerous, especially when it reaches our water supplies. The falling of rainwater on open dumpsites means the leachate or contaminated water can percolate deep into the ground to pollute groundwater.
Is Recycling the Solution?
Recycling is one solution to landfill. Instead of using natural resources once, we can break them down after and repurpose them into something that can be used again. To know the value of green waste recycling, we must examine a product’s lifecycle – i.e. from the process of extraction to the process of raw materials to the making and consumption of the product – and the final disposal.
Recycling leads to a closed-loop system where waste materials or discarded products return to the manufacturing companies for use in new products. Not only does this prevent pollution but it also reduces our consumption of the world's resources, some of which are non-renewable.
Sustainable resource management such as waste recycling and energy and water conservation is no longer an individual decision but an essential practice in a world with a finite resource base and ever-growing population. It is important to expand the recycling infrastructure around the world and implement sustainability into everyday practices (at personal and business levels) for the future of the economy, human health, and the environment.
However, recycling is not a perfect solution, and therefore, reducing your consumption and using the items we have is an essential aspect of sustainable living.
The main problems associated with this method of waste disposal are cost, transportation, and pollution. For example, the process of recycling is a bit costly. To recycle paper companies use bleach to make the paper reusable. The entire process from the chemicals used and transportation is expensive. Also, these chemicals and methods are going to cause a certain level of pollution that impact our environment and our health.
Many of us find plastic products reliable for everyday use, however, it is not easy to recycle plastic material. Plastic comes in many different forms and it is not easy to sort them systematically which makes it extremely difficult to manufacture new products from plastic.
Yes, there issues related to recycling, but we need to look at the bigger picture and that is dealing with the waste of an ever-growing population. We need sustainable solutions that preserve our planet's resources that create less harm to our environment than existing systems such as incarceration and landfill.
- Reduces the quantity of waste sent to landfills and incinerators
- Conserves natural resources like timber, water, and minerals
- Making use of domestic waste materials increases economic security
- Prevents pollution by reducing the necessity to gather new raw materials
- Saves energy
- Supports American manufacturing and conserves valuable resources
- Helps create jobs within the recycling and manufacturing industries within the us
Every product people use has embedded energy – i.e. the energy it has taken to extract, transport, and transform the materials required to produce the product. So, when we recycle items, it results in energy savings because the process of recycling takes significant advantage of this embedded energy.
For example, when we make new aluminum cans from old cans, it can result in 97% energy savings than manufacturing new cans from raw materials like bauxite. Similarly, it takes 35% less energy to make glass bottles from recycled glass compared to silica, limestone, soda ash, and feldspar. Recycling of paper also results in a 45% energy savings.
Recycling Conserves Natural Resources...
Human activity has resulted in a depletion of the world's natural resources. All of the products we use are constructed from natural resources. For example:
- Paper comes from trees
- The glass comes from sand
- Oil and plastic come from fossil fuels
Some of these resources are renewable and others are not. The process of extracting and using these resources affects the environment in several different ways.
Recycling will reduce the need to extract these resources from the earth, as there will be less demand for such resources. This will result in less need for expensive, risky, and damaging methods such as mining and extraction.
Recycling Benefits the Environment...
Recycling will have a positive influence on our environment too. Let's take a look at recycling one product; paper. Companies are destroying a large number of forests to meet the increasing demand for paper. With the increasing demand for paper, paper manufacturing companies cut down more trees and this reduces land and air quality. We can stop the destruction of trees and forests by recycling paper.
We can save natural resources by recycling items and products made from raw materials. For example, recycling one ton of newspaper and mixed paper is equivalent to saving twelve trees. Besides, research studies show that the production of one ton of paper requires 4000kw of electricity, 2 barrels of oil, and 28000 liters of water. During this process, around 2200 pounds of waste is generated.
Over 20% of logs collected from the world’s forests are reserved for producing paper. So, making one ton of new paper requires a large number of resources. No doubt producing new paper products is a burden on our natural resources.
Recycling Reduces Pollution...
Normal harvesting of resources such as mining, petroleum drilling, and harvesting trees creates air, land, and water pollution. When companies use recycled materials they reduce their impact on the planet, reduce pollution, and reduce climate change.
For example, producing recycled paper can create 75% less air pollution and 34% less water pollution compared to the production of paper from virgin fibers. Instead of extracting ore to manufacture aluminum cans, we can use recycled cans that produce 95% less air pollution and 96% less water pollution.
Besides, recycling is 195 times more effective in reducing harmful greenhouse gases than landfilling and raw material manufacturing methods.
Recycling Protects Ecosystems...
Pollution is everywhere; the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil we use to grow our food. It is having a huge impact on our health and the health of our habitats and ecosystems, and the living creatures that call these places home, including us.
Recycling decreases the need to grow and harvest new raw materials. It leads to a reduction in deforestation, animal displacement, and less diverted rivers. This, in turn, lessens the toxic disruption and damage done to natural habitats and ecosystems.
Composting is the Ultimate Option...
The ultimate waste management method is composting. This is the process of breaking organic matter down to utilize the properties within the waste. Compost can be used to enrich our gardens and producing it reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Composting is the ultimate solution as almost all organic waste can be repurposed in this way. However, there is still a considerable amount of organic waste going into landfills. When organic waste mixes with other waste products it causes the production of hazardous gases.
I can not emphasize the importance of creating your compost at home. There are many methods for creating compost and it can be done with limited access to space. Many waste disposal companies collect green waste too so if you are unsure, contact them to figure out the best solution for you.
How Can You Make a Difference?
We all have a responsibility to protect our health and our environment. How can we contribute? The first step will always be to reduce how much you consume.
Change your outlook, instead of buying the latest gadget to make you feel good, cherish the important things in life - friends, and family. Remember that less is more. Try to live a zero waste lifestyle.
When you must buy a product, look for the recycled option first. There are hundreds of products available on the market that have been recycled.
- Reduce your consumption
- Repurpose whatever you can
- Set up effective home waste management
- use reusables
- buy recycled paper
- print on both sides
- recycle paper, newspaper, and card
- install recycling bins at your home and office
- recycle empty ink cartridges
- buy recycled toner and ink cartridges
- buy recycled products
- avoid packaging
- use rechargeable batteries
When you recycle one ton of paper, you are saving 12 trees and around 7,000 water gallons, as well as three cubic yards of space in the landfill. E-waste stands for electronic waste. According to the EPA, people in the U.S throw out 1.5 million tons of e-waste every year. Recycling your old electronic or technology gadgets can help avoid adding to e-waste.
One rechargeable battery is equal to the life span of 1,000 regular batteries. Instead of discarding the used batteries, you can recycle them. Also, store your electronic data on a cloud instead of a disk or hard format.
In the U.S, on average, people throw out 8 cartridges every second of every day. This is alarming. So, this means we are throwing out 700,000 ink and toner cartridges per day. I recommend you to buy recycled toner and ink cartridges. Each remanufactured cartridge can keep 2.4 pounds of plastic and metal out of landfill sites and saves about one gallon of oil.
You can recycle the old newspaper. For example, when you finish reading your newspaper, either leave it for your colleagues, friends, or someone else. Otherwise, you can recycle it.
Green Waste and Recycling: The Final Verdict!
We produce millions of tons of garbage every year and much of it ends up in landfill sites or is incinerated. Thee waste management methods are harmful to our environment which has knock-on on effects to human health too.
We must promote eco-friendly waste management systems and play our role to adopt green practices. Their climate crisis is real and finding sustainable solutions for a living is the only way forward. Remember, with reduce, reuse, and recycle, we can make the world a better place.
If you have any questions or comments, please use the space below and contribute to this discussion.