Have you ever thought about all the plastic items you’ve owned in your lifetime, from childhood toys to last week’s water bottle? Well, they probably still exist in a landfill somewhere, as do most of the other things you’ve owned such as phones, computers, household items and shoes.
Reasons to avoid using landfill sites
There are many reasons to avoid using landfill sites, or to keep their use to a minimum. Firstly, they are filling up fast. According to the Environment Agency, nearly 46,000,000 tonnes of waste was sent to the 500 landfill sites across the UK in 2019. The cost of dealing with all this waste falls to the taxpayer.
Secondly, they are bad for the environment. Rotting waste in landfill contributes to global warming by creating the greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide. Toxic substances from landfill leach into the earth and can contaminate our waterways. If this isn’t enough reason to avoid them, waste takes a long time to break down – plastics take between 20-1,000 years to decompose and even then, they don’t break down completely but continue to pollute the environment in the form of microplastics. Other materials can take much longer, and some, like Styrofoam and tinfoil, never degrade.
How to reduce landfill
Here at Tidysite we only send about 2% of all the waste that is brought to us to landfill. This is minimal, but there are many things you can do to help reduce the load. Striving towards a zero-waste lifestyle is the first step. Use and buy as little as possible, think about what you buy and recycle everything you can:
- Eliminate as much plastic as possible – for instance, buy a reusable, stainless steel water bottle
- Reduce consumption – do you really need to buy so much stuff?
- Recycle – clean glass bottles, cans, paper and card are all easily recyclable
- Buy items with less packaging – it’s often unavoidable if buying electronics, say, but possible to reduce it in smaller ways. Markets and most supermarkets sell loose fruit and vegetables.
- Consider buying second-hand clothes and donate after use. Buy natural fabrics and fibres – synthetics can take up to 200 years to degrade
- Buy rechargeable batteries – they will save you money in the long run. Disposable batteries are very toxic to the environment.
Household waste collection varies across the country but the government has recently announced that it will soon be streamlined. This means a standardisation of recycling rules, free garden waste collections and weekly food waste collections. The government says they will enable the recycling of at least 65% of municipal waste by 2035, and eliminate all avoidable waste by 2050.
In the meantime, do your bit and remember the three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle.