Aug 28, 2015

Filling Our Landfills

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Filling Our LandfillsWe’ve all heard the old adage: out with the old and in with the new. While this practice may be beneficial for people’s personal lives, it doesn’t generally have positive results for the environment. Every time we throw a piece of trash into the garbage can, we add to the growing heaps of waste materials filling our landfills across the US.


How Much Waste Are We Producing?

Statistics shows that a single person in one day can produce up to 4.39 pounds of trash. We create enough trash to fill 63,000 trucks per day. And during the holidays, we generate an additional 5 million tons of waste. 80% of this holiday waste is composed of shopping bags and wrapping paper, 2 items that could be recyclable. These and many other waste materials end up filling our landfills.


Landfill Statistics

Considering that tons of waste materials are being dumped in our landfills, it is understandable that eventually they will overflow. Decades ago, there were still plenty of landfills in the country with room to spare. However, with increasing material consumption in homes, schools and offices the available space for waste disposal continues to diminish.


Landfill statistics show that in 1979, approximately 18,500 landfills were available to receive trash all across the United States. In 1990, just 11 years later, this number was drastically decreased by almost 60%. According to the landfill statistics given by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 1988 there were 7,924 landfills available in the US. In 2006, there were only 1,754 left. This continued decrease in available landfill space is relative to the amount of trash that has been increasing in great proportions.


At present, the biggest landfill in the US is located in Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada. This location alone received 3,824,814 tons of trash in 2007. The second largest is located in Puente Hills, Whittier, California that received 3,756,718 tons of trash in the same year.


Landfills and the Environment

There is a direct adverse correlation between landfills and the environment. One thing that creates the environmental hazard is leachate contaminated groundwater. The EPA defines it as the water that trickles through the waste materials in landfills collecting the hazardous and toxic contaminants in the process. Contamination depends on landfill characteristics including the age of the landfill and the types of waste filling the landfill. Proper construction of landfills and stricter controls of the most toxic and harmful materials are efforts to reduce leachate contaminated groundwater.


What You Can Do

You can reduce consumption of materials to minimize your contribution to the landfills in your area. You can look for creative ways to reuse items before throwing them out. You can look for products that utilize recycled content. And when it’s finally time to discard items, make every effort to donate what’s usable and recycle what’s not.





(2010) LANDFILLS: Hazardous to the Environment. Retrieved August 6, 2010

(2010) Tons of Trash: Tour America’s Top 10 Biggest Landfills. Retrieved August 6, 2010

(2010) The Truth About America’s Landfill Glut. Retrieved August 6, 2010

(2010) Waste Facts and Figures. Retrieved August 6, 2010

(2010) Making Source Reduction Work. Retrieved August 6, 2010

(2010) What is Leachate? Retrieved August 6, 2010

(2007) Garbage Dump. Retrieved November 15, 2010


  • Comment Link Phlebotomy Certification Monday, 20 September 2010 17:34 posted by Phlebotomy Certification

    My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

  • Comment Link Gina Monday, 15 November 2010 18:43 posted by Gina

    Freecycle is the way to go. If you haven't checked it out yet, you should. It's a great way to pass along items when I replace my older things with newer purchases. I don't feel as guilty for buying stuff that I like.

  • Comment Link julieanne Monday, 16 July 2012 13:20 posted by julieanne

    u are awsome

  • Comment Link Mike Wanninger Friday, 07 June 2013 12:30 posted by Mike Wanninger

    The "number of landfills" is a misleading statistic. Much of the reduction in the number of landfills is due to consolidation of landfills. So while we have fewer landfills, the landfills are much much bigger. Also, due to improved techniques, each acre of landfill today takes in 30% more waste then in 1979. Also many of the 1979 landfills were older and could not meet the EPA regulations on solid waste. All of this result in the amount of landfill space per person has increased almost 30% since 1978 - and that considers the population growth.

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