This is my second year at Harper, and I have really come to understand the value of community college, but there is something I continue to see on campus that seriously worries me. Far too many times when throwing something away I have looked in the trash and seen plastic bottles, old papers, and empty soda cans – even when the recycling bin is right next to the trash. I wonder if our students know where those materials end up?
They don’t just disappear from our existence – they end up in landfills. These reusable materials end up getting lost in the sea of garbage lying underneath our planet’s surface, thus requiring manufacturers to produce even more plastic, to cut down more trees, and to dig up more aluminum deposits. I had the opportunity to interview Troy Keip, an employee at Waste Connections, and ask him a few questions about their facility. He stated that the amount of trash that comes into a landfill varies by the size of each plant, but in Rockford, IL they take in about 8,500 tons of trash each day!
And, like many other landfills, they do not yet have the technology needed to filter out any recyclable material that comes in with the normal trash. Keip also shared that everything coming to this plant gets buried in a landfill; nothing is burned in an incinerator, for which a special permit is required. Anyone who considers how many resources we’ve been losing over the years should be able to see the large scale of this epidemic. But the solution is so simple! As responsible human beings, we should start educating ourselves, our friends, and our family members about the small changes we can make to our daily habits. Information on how to recycle can be found online. One good website to use is www.WM.com/ThinkGreen. It’s not too late to make a difference!