According to Greenpeace, the UK dumps around 15 million tons of landfill rubbish each year (the same weight as 100,000 adult blue whales – the largest mammals on earth, bigger than elephants). As well as being ugly and smelly (and usually you have to drive to one), landfills emit toxic gases especially from electronic waste and batteries (don’t send it to Africa, they have no way to dispose of it and has led to huge health and pollution issues).
Read No More Rubbish Excuses. This book (by the founder of the 2-minute beach clean movement) asks why litter ends up on our streets with overflowing landfills and fatbergs. Learn about where rubbish goes when you put in the bin, and what happens to items we take to the tip (plastic, food, clothing, electricals and furniture). Plus there are lots of 2-minute solutions to drastically reduce your waste.
The problem is now so bad that many landfills (including in Devon) are now full, and councils are having to look for new sites. In Dorset, the council tried to put waste into old Portland stone quarries, until local residents opposed. And anything made with chlorine bleach (paper, nappies, paper towels) emits dioxin (the most toxic chemical on earth) when they languish at landfill. And many landfills are at risk of soil erosion or flooding.
Another big area is food waste, with us throwing away around a third of food bought. This can be due to people buying too much, but also supermarkets making sizes too big (lone households find it difficult to buy a small loaf of bread, for instance) which is why along with salad, bread is one of the biggest food waste contributors. Don’t feed mouldy, stale or crusty bread to garden birds or waterfowl, as it can harm. Nor feed buttered bread, as fat smears on feathers and affects waterproofing and insulation.
The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Austria all have almost zero landfill waste. This is because recycling rates are very high (with take-back schemes for bottles etc) and so there is no need for any ‘alternatives’ like incineration (which just adds more pollution and health problems for the surrounding area, even it does produce energy). Choosing reusable always helps from cutlery to zero-waste gift wrap and reusable crackers (none can be recycled, unless you pay for community boxes, which most people don’t do).
Recycle nearly everything that ‘you can’t recycle’ with TerraCycle. You can order a zero waste bag for doorstep collection, or get together with your community to have drop-off points for anything from cigarette butts to plastic toothbrushes to biros (some are free sponsored by industry, others are a one-off fee that could work out at £1 each if everyone gets together). It’s like a one-off amnesty to get all the rubbish out of your town, once and for all! It’s all then sent off to be recycled into other things like park benches or industrial use.
There is no such thing as ‘away’. So when we throw anything away, it must go somewhere. Annie Leonard
We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have. To impress people we don’t like. Dave Ramsey
And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminium can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good. Because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place. And He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use. And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminium cans and paper plates and disposable bottles. And there was nowhere to sit down or walk. And Man shook his head and cried ‘Look at this Godawful mess’. Art Buchwald