Excessive Trash

APES Project - Josh McKerall

The Problem

Humans are the only organisms that produce waste materials that aren't recycled for some purpose. Over-consumption, a throw-away lifestyle, and lack of overall awareness has led to an extreme abundance of solid waste. Landfills are filling up at an alarming rate, waterways are choked up with discarded products, and key ecosystems are being invaded by potentially hazardous human waste. The problem is most prevalent in developing countries where there aren't many regulations and garbage is thrown in open air dumps. Developed countries produce the most waste but are able to dispose of it through incineration, storage in landfills, or shipping it to developing countries.

Causes and Effects on the Environment

Excessive trash is caused from over-consumption and an extreme lack of reuse and recycling. The production of cheap products made of non-biodegradable materials coupled with throw-away consumerism has led to an excess of trash.

Too much garbage harms humans, animals, and the environment as a whole. Forests are cut down to make room for landfills, destroying ecosystems and displacing countless organisms. Leakage from landfills enters the groundwater supply and can lead to illnesses in humans and animals. Burning trash releases harmful greenhouse gases.

Consequences

Environmental degradation and air and water pollution. Overconsumption and an excessive amount of trash contaminate natural landscapes. Burning garbage produces toxic greenhouse gases that contribute to global temperature increases. Trash buried in landfills can leak into groundwater. Likewise, litter can wash or blow into waterways and degrade the quality of water. The most glaring consequences are a degradation of air and water quality.

Solutions

The most obvious solution is to decrease consumption and thus decrease the amount of waste being produced. Shifting society from a throwaway mindset to a reuse/recycle mindset would also drastically reduce the amount of trash. Building safer landfills will decrease the amount of toxins leaking into groundwater supply as well. Governments can utilize legislation to mandate the proper disposal of waste as well as regulating the amount of waste created.