When we talk about the importance of reusing and recycling, it's always with the goal of keeping things "out of a landfill." But landfills—maybe because we don't live near one or pass by one on our daily commute—take on a sort of mythical quality. We understand the concept, but we don't always connect with the reality of the situation.
A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle brought the reality of local landfills home. In the bay area some landfills have been closed because of fears that leaks would contaminate groundwater.
Of course, if one dump closes, that means another has to open (or, in this case, expand) to accommodate all that extra trash. That expansion of older, larger landfills is bad in a number of ways. Trucks must haul the trash farther, creating more greenhouse gas emissions. The old landfills are inexpensive which makes is an easier choice over recycling and composting.
David Tam, an environmental advocate with the group Sustainability, Parks, Recycling And Wildlife Legal Defense Fund, calls these larger, older dumps "the enemy of recycling."
This sort of article is a good reminder for us—and makes us want to focus on our recycling, reusing, and composting even more than we already do.
Image: Lance Iversen / The Chronicle