In 2010 alone, Americans accumulated 250 million tons of garbage, and although recycling in the U.S. has increased by 34% since 1960, the country's attitude to waste is still not sustainable.
"It's very convenient to roll your trash to the curb every week and have it disappear, but it's a magic trick -- and really there's not very much magic,"..."We need to have less packaging; use less disposable items; (use) things that last longer; make purchasing decisions that are more studied and less wasteful."
The environmental impact of landfill sites varies depending on how well they're managed and resourced. However, typical problems include the contamination of soil and groundwater from toxic residues; the release of methane, a greenhouse gas produced during the decaying process that is more potent than carbon dioxide; and disease-carrying pests.
At present, just over half of all U.S. garbage is buried in landfills, a third is recycled and the rest is incinerated to produce electricity, a process known as waste-to-energy.
A recent study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded that incinerating a ton of trash emits at least 35% less greenhouse gas and yields 10 times more electricity than burying it and capturing the methane. So why does America still seem so in love with landfill?