Published on May 10, 2021

Written by Lisa Bolen, HRSD Public Information Specialist

Have you ever seen a landfill? Have you ever smelled a landfill? No? Have you seen the movie WALL-E? I collected wastewater samples out of sewer manholes for 13 years, and I can tell you I prefer that smell to the smell of a landfill. It is rancid!

Why should landfills be the last resort? 

Landfill Photo
Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels

Landfills are unsightly, smelly, and potentially harmful to the environment. They hold many different types of waste including solid, agricultural, industrial, manufactured, and construction. There are numerous contributors to the waste at landfills including homes, schools, restaurants, markets, public places, offices, farms, animal waste, oil refineries, power plants, pharmaceuticals, construction work, and you. As population growth and urbanization increase, so does the demand for manufactured products, which also increases the need for more landfills.  

What happens when all the landfills are full?

As of 2019, according to the BBC, the world produces over two billion tons of municipal solid waste every year. That’s enough to fill over 800,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools! China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia have banned the import of trash from outside countries, and now countries like the United States has to find other ways to get rid of their trash. A lot of that waste is now being burned, which causes an increase in air pollution with the release of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, particulate matter, lead, mercury, dioxins and furans. These substances can also cause serious public health effects. 

What are some solutions to reduce waste in landfills?   

trash truck

  1. Donate clothes-donate clothes to people in need, shelters, or thrift stores
  2. Reduce food waste-donate unused items for your pantry; save leftovers for the next meal
  3. Buy things with less packaging or in bulk
  4. Eliminate plastic bottle use-use reusable drinking containers
  5. Don’t buy as much stuff-the less you buy, the less waste you produce
  6. Reuse-Reusing reduces waste and save money
  7. Purchase items that are made from recycled materials
  8. Clean smarter-natural products like vinegar and baking soda are not only better for the environment but it also reduces waste from numerous cleaning product containers
  9. Composting-there are numerous ways to be a lazy composter these days
  10. Recycle
  11. Use rechargeable batteries
  12. Get involved-Get to know more about your local policies on trash and recycling; talk to others in your community about the benefits of reducing solid waste
  13. Be an example-If you start to make a difference, others may follow your lead