The United States buries most of its trash in landfills – and most of that trash stays in those landfills. . . forever.
But you know what doesn’t stay put? The toxics in our trash and the climate-damaging gases that landfills generate. At best, landfills keep the thousands of toxics in our trash from entering the environment for a few years – if that. But eventually, those toxics escape and enter our groundwater, soil, and air.
Why We Need to Stop Burying Trash
Landfills are mountains built by piling up trash over years and years. As waste companies build these mountains, they regularly leave the new trash on top uncovered and exposed to rain and snow. That precipitation seeps into the trash and becomes landfill leachate – or toxic garbage brew. This poisonous brew is made up of heavy metals, PFAS (known as forever chemicals), and other toxics. So, when this brew escapes a landfill – and it always does – it pollutes our environment and endangers nearby communities.
Another reason to stop burying trash? The climate crisis. Burying organic material, like food, paper, plants, and clothes, generates methane – a significant source of climate damage. In fact, landfills are the third-largest source of methane in the United States.
Just Zero’s Vision
Envision this: A world where we stop building these trash mountains. How do we get there? Through Zero Waste solutions. Think:
- Modern recycling systems that are accessible to residents everywhere.
- Laws and regulations that force corporations to redesign their products and packaging to be less wasteful and even better, reusable.
- Composting programs that are available to people, restaurants, and businesses all over – so no food or yard scraps ever go to waste.
Basically, in this vision, we generate far less trash and invest in modern Zero Waste systems. As a result, there’s no more trash to pile up in landfills.
The fact is, we can reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost almost all the trash we send to landfills right now! That’s why Just Zero pushes back on new or expanding landfills – because we have better, less expensive, less dangerous options that don’t damage our climate or poison our communities.
Landfills shouldn’t be in ANYONE’s backyard. And waste disposal that poisons people should never be cheap and easy. That’s why Just Zero wants to phase out landfills – for good.
To do that, we inform people about where their trash is going and the impact it is has on communities. We connect people who are fighting for their homes, their air, and their water, and we amplify their stories. And we call on state governments to 1: Hold companies spewing harmful gases into the environment accountable and 2: Mandate regular leachate testing and cleanup.