Landfills, what are they?
When you read about food waste, you often stumble upon the term landfills. Headlines in articles about new laws that are to prevent food from ending up in landfills etc. But what are landfills, why do they exist, and more importantly what do they do to our environment.
According to Wikipedia a landfill is “A site, also known as a tip, dump, rubbish dump, garbage dump, or dumping ground, is a site for the disposal of waste materials. Landfill is the oldest and most common form of waste disposal, although the systematic burial of the waste with daily, intermediate and final covers only began in the 1940s.”
Historically and still, landfills are the most common way of disposing of solid waste. You can find landfills in all parts of the world and they have increased a lot in modern times to keep up with our growing consumption. The waste in landfills breaks down at a very slow rate and will remain a problem for future generations for many years to come. There are also modern landfills that are carefully designed to protect the environment, with protection layers securing the waste so that it can’t leak and pollute the ground and the water. But even if we get better and better at securing these sites, it’s still important to limit the amount of waste going into landfills. So what can we do?
The more we recycle, the less garbage winds up in our landfills. By reusing aluminium, paper, glass, plastics, and other materials, we can save production and energy costs, and reduce the negative impacts that the extraction and processing of virgin materials has on the environment. Did you know that in Sweden, we have a can and bottle deposit system that gives people money back when they recycle – all the way back since 1984 actually! Each year Swedes recycle more than 2 billion bottles and cans using the so-called pant system. It even has its own verb in Swedish, “panta”. A perfect example of a country providing its citizens with good infrastructure and incentives that makes it easy to do better.
Reuse and upcycle
Try to reuse things. Sell stuff, give it to charity or make something new from it. Get creative. More and more clothing brands offer free repairs and also to “buy back” clothes for a discount on new ones, so that they can recycle the garments. A great example is Nudie Jeans that offer free repairs for life and when it’s not repairable anymore you get a discount on your new pair of jeans when handing the old ones in. A smart way to attract super loyal customers and well, just do the right thing.
Only buy what you need and choose to buy things consciously. This applies to everything from food to furniture. What material is used? Can it be recycled? Do I need this? Is it a classic design item that can easily be sold again? And also buy second hand! Remember to bring reusable bags for your shopping to avoid buying another plastic bag. Another question you can ask yourself is; do I need to own it or can I rent it? Hygglo is one example of a Swedish app in which you can rent all kinds of stuff and also rent out your own that you don’t use all the time. This is great for things like tools. It’s really stupid when you think about it, that every household would need to own their personal drill if you consider the actual time it’s being used in a year.
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