Not many people know where their trash goes after they throw it out. When talking to people about recycling, many said they chose not to. Instead, they just throw out all of their garbage together. The trash in garbage cans gets sent to a landfill — a site for the disposal of waste materials by burial — or is incinerated. Either way, this process releases many harmful toxins into the air, water and soil. Litter gets washed away into streams, rivers and oceans, causing problems for wildlife and marine ecosystems. In the Pacific Ocean, there is an island made of plastic products that is twice the size of Texas, called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. If people were to dispose of garbage properly, this “island” would not exist and the wildlife would not be suffering because of people’s lack of interest.
According to www.nextlife.com, the average American produces about 4.5 pounds of waste every day, or 1,642 pounds per year, and only about 27 percent of that gets recycled. The rest gets sent to landfills, where it breaks down and releases methane gas and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This speeds up climate change because the methane and carbon dioxide trap heat from the sun and cause a rise in temperature. If some of the contents of landfills were composted or recycled, it would reduce the amount of gases being released. Landfills do not break down waste; they just bury it. Most garbage in landfills will sit there for hundreds, if not thousands, of years before it breaks down completely.
At Rider, we are trying to reduce our impact on the environment by placing recycling bins around campus for students to place their water bottles and other recyclables. We also send all the food waste from Daly’s and Cranberry’s to the Wilmington Organic Recycling Center, where the food scraps are composted into soil. This reduces the amount of waste in landfills as well as the amount of gas, because composting is an aerobic process that doesn’t produce methane gas.
Rider will be showing a green film on Tuesday, Dec. 14 at 6 p.m. in Sweigart 115 called Garbage Dreams, which follows three young boys in Cairo, Egypt, through their everyday lives as garbage collectors.
Rider students as well as the rest of America need to recycle more and think about what they throw out and where they dispose of it.
– Erin Marciniac