Hi, my name is Alana, and I thought my garbage bin was magic.
But then I learned what landfills actually are and I now realize that I don't know anything about anything.
For starters, when you picture a landfill, you probably picture something like this.
This is what a landfill looks like.
The landfills our household waste ends up in are known as Municipal Solid Waste Landfills (MSWLFs) and they're specifically engineered to keep our garbage from interacting with the environment. Here's an example of how a modern day MSWLF might operate:
Since all our stuff is kept away from the elements, they actually can't decompose the way they normally would. Instead, they do something...a little bit worse??
Landfill gas is primarily made up of carbon dioxide and methane gas, both greenhouse gases that trap heat below the earth's atmosphere.
Landfills can either vent methane into the air (!!), burn it, or sell it as an energy source. But they also have to monitor their methane production and report findings to the government.
I am also team No Gross Water, which is unfortunate because another inevitability of having all your trash hang out together is leachate.
Even then, the EPA had previously predicted that all landfills would eventually leak waste into the environment, even if it took "many decades." Despite their best efforts, all landfills are still large gatherings of garbage with temporary protections in place to minimize environmental harm.
I'm convinced this terrible, unseen future where we are all swimming in landfill muck is probably close (because 2018, duh), so I've been forced to reassess my Tote Bag of Dreck.
No longer will I be able to dump all my crap into my waste bin and know peace of mind. I look forward to weekends spent carefully dividing my bag trash between composting and recycling.