Are We Properly Disposing All Of Our WasteAs the world ages and advances not only does the population and technology increase but so does our waste. With new technological advancements and higher populations, not to mention longer life spans, new types of waste in large amounts are seeming to appear alongside waste that has existed since the beginning of time such as food related wastes. This brings up the question, are we properly disposing of all of our waste? As of now we use landfills and incineration as some of our main waste disposal methods for waste that can’t be recycled. For many years people never thought that how they dispose of their waste would matter or affect the earth in any significant way, but it is becoming more evident through years of research that if we don’t find a cleaner and more environmentally friendly way to dispose of our waste there will be serious consequences. Section I: New Types Of WasteTechnology is always advancing, and with that come new products and new types of waste. Starting with the black and white television and the first popularized radios there are common household items that eventually are replaced with newer slightly better versions every few years. When this happens the older version is thrown away, this has taken the name of E-waste, electronics that are thrown away. What makes E-waste different from other kinds of waste is the fact that “E-Waste products are usually made up of dozens of different compounds assembled together through a complex manufacturing process. This makes E-Waste recycling much more difficult than with single-material waste, such as plastic water bottles. Because of this, it is estimated that twenty percent or less E-Waste is actually recycled” (E-waste). Now this raises the question, where does the eighty percent of E-waste that doesn’t get recycled go? On top of that, how does that E-waste affect the environment? “Most American E-Waste is simply shipped overseas; in developing nations, small-scale recycling operations focus (…) to separate the valuable material from other, worthless components, workers often burn away the unwanted material. This can lead to the release of toxic gas. Even if the unwanted components are not burned, they are likely to be cast aside in waterways or landfills, where chemicals will continue to leach into the ecosystem for years” (E-waste). With so many electronic devices made with the intention of being renewed in a few years these developing nations are constantly given more and more E-waste every year. It seems like every single year there are new electronics that are essential to have, and with more systems being digitized there will be a point where most of our household items and personal belongings are electronic or have electronic components. When this happens there will be more E-waste with it, if the situation isn’t controlled now there will be permanent destructive consequences to the environment. Section II: Food Waste Since the existence of the human race there has been food waste, because there has always been food. What has changed however has been the amount of people on earth, causing more food to be needed and more waste to be produced. What has stayed the same is how we dispose of our waste, since the first civilizations there have been landfills, or more simply holes to throw things away in. These holes overtime have gotten larger becoming large pieces of land filled with garbage and are no longer small pockets of waste that won’t change anything. “An estimated one-third of global food production, or about 1.3 billion tons of food, is wasted each year” (Food Waste). All of this food is simply thrown away into landfills, when most of it could have been recycled by being used to help the soil or as animal feed at farms. The shocking amount wasted also brings up two very important concerns. How does the decomposing food affect the environment, and how is this allowed to happen when hunger is such a prevalent issue, not just around the world but in our own American cities. When food is produced many things are needed in order for the food to be harvested or farmed in farms then into the homes of the public. Some of these things used are “Land, water, and fossil fuels. When food is wasted rather than consumed, the resources used to produce it can be considered wasted as well. Within the United States, around one-fourth of the freshwater consumed annually is used to produce food that goes uneaten. In addition to depleting water supplies, this excess agricultural production also pollutes freshwater resources through the runoff of fertilizers, pesticides, and animal wastes” (Gale Food). When food is made is comes at a cost not just financially but environmentally, and with so much food being produced, that cost is very high. What is being used to make food isn’t going to last forever and neither will landfills to put all of the waste food produces. So many resources are used to make food that is never touched or leaves the package it’s put in. When we can very easily get better control on how our food is treated and where it goes, this food should have feed someone especially when so many need feeding. “Food makes up the largest percentage of landfilled municipal solid waste (MSW) in the United States, accounting for nearly 22 percent of the total in 2014. The decomposition of food waste produces methane, which has an impact on the atmosphere 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Worldwide, food waste accounts for an estimated 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, which gives it a carbon footprint larger than that of most countries and makes it a major contributor to global climate change” (Food Waste). Our largest type of waste that sits in landfills is simply because we don’t properly take care of our food. America overproduces food and so much of is is sent to landfills to become one of the top contributors to climate change when it should be solving the issue of hunger that pains our country. We produce the correct amount to feed our country, the only issue is making sure it happens. Many of the reasons we don’t get the food to the ones that need it is because the people who can afford food usually over buy in bulk and end up not eating all of it. A combination of serving too much food per plate and throwing it out after as well as allowing food to sit in a cupboard or refrigerator and expire. When in fact many of the food doesn’t necessarily go bad exactly when the expiration date says so, many confuse the “Best By” date and “Expiration date.” Not only is it at homes but it is also at restaurants and other food establishments, a large amount is ordered or servings are simply too big and leave a lot of leftovers that go to the trash no questions asked (Food Waste). Also restaurants would not want to risk their reputation if they used food that was past the date the label states, they usually only serve what they find is fit to represent their name not caring about what gets wasted. “As reported by the nonprofit organization Feeding America, 13 percent of American households experienced food insecurity in 2015, meaning that 42 million people lacked the resources to acquire sufficient food to meet their nutritional needs on a consistent basis” (Food Waste). With the amount of food America produces and sends to landfills these numbers should be nearing zero, no family should have to deal with hunger.Section III: PlasticBesides food another one of the most common types of waste is plastic and plastic based items. Plastic and plastic based items take up 18.5% of landfills, 75.5% of all plastic produced in America is sent to landfills, and only 9.5% of it is recycled (LeBlanc). It is clear that plastic is just used once and thrown away, the last 15% of plastic is combusted for energy, essentially destroyed and never to be used again. Not to mention that in the process to combust the plastic it will leave toxic materials and gases into the environment which makes it just as bad as putting in a landfill or worse. Certain plastic items can take 450 to 1000 years to decompose in a landfill, and roughly 102.1 billion plastic bags are used by Americans yearly (LeBlanc). This means that we will have landfills full of plastic not going anywhere for at least 4 generations and all that is going to happen is these landfills will multiply. Plastic is made with oil/petroleum and natural gas, the creation and destruction of plastic heavily affects air, land and water pollution as well as it contributes to climate change. With these fossil fuels being in such high demand the price has slowly been rising and oil is currently the source of a lot of conflict in the world. Plastic is just a consumer of these valuable resources and takes a large amount of money to produce and handle.
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