Is there anything good about the future of landfills? It turns out that there are a few possibilities on the horizon that may surprise us all!
I suspect a particular quote from Arthur C. Clarke would be perfect here:
“Solid wastes are only raw materials that we’re too stupid to use.”
If there’s anything I’ve learned from writing over 1000 articles about amazing innovations, it’s the truth of that quote. We just don’t know what we don’t know… yet.
Innovators are everywhere in society and it turns out that we have some options that are beginning to be used around the planet!
Today we’ll share two of them.
First, here’s a quick and surprisingly entertaining primer on garbage and landfills, thanks to an EWC favorite, SciShow.com. (If you haven’t heard of SciShow yet, you’re missing out! They produce some awesome and interesting content over there, so go check them out!)
Here again, I thought I knew enough about garbage and landfills, and found almost all of this a complete surprise. See how well you do…
So there you are! All up to speed on the past, present and possible futures for landfills!
Keep in mind that here at EWC, we are finding the best thought leaders are moving us toward a future where everything is going to be in a closed loop of recycling; never ending up in the landfill.
But for the time being, if we can use the landfills we already have for something positive, then it’s a welcome step in the right direction.
First, let’s look at the ingenious concept of using the surface of landfills to generate solar power. This video is brought to us by the great channel we found, Energy & Environmental News! They’ve got tons of content, all about innovations in energy and clean energy. It’s some really interesting stuff, even if you don’t think it’s your wheelhouse! You can take a look here.
Fascinating! It’s not going to save the planet, but it’s a huge leap in finding a positive potential from the landfill.
Remember that they said they were only using 10 acres of the 45 available. This could be interesting!
Now there’s another possibility that may be used in conjunction with this solar friendly surface. Here’s anothe video from that great channel, Energy & Environmental News, about what’s possible under the cover…
Did you catch that statistic?
Energy from landfills could replace 2% of what’s burned by trucks and other heavy vehicles in the U.S.
That’s no small contribution when it comes to the overall problem of our dependence on foreign oil.
2% here, 8% there, 15% from some other non-carbon source: it will all add up!
And I have to say, it seems kind of obvious.
So why haven’t we thought of these possibilities before?
Maybe it’s that old problem of forgetting to formulate better questions. If we have to live with the landfills we have, how can they contribute something positive to the environment?
Okay, now we are all up to speed about landfills. Yet another reason to educate our way out of that out-of-sight, out-of-mind view we have of the garbage we generate.
Are you interested in more about how we can turn negative human impacts on the environment into positive ones? Check out this EWC article about how we might be able to positively impact the environment using tailpipe pollution!
Stay open, curious and hopeful!
~ Dr. Lynda
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- “The Smelly, Oozy, Sometimes Explode-y Science of Garbage.” YouTube. SciShow, 26 Dec. 2013. Web. 14 June 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4x8HsAhp8U>. ↩
- “Solar-Powered Landfills.” YouTube. Energy & Environmental News, 31 Oct. 2011. Web. 14 June 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bH42bUZZ-ZA>. ↩
- “Trash Gas for Trash Trucks.” YouTube. Energy & Environmental News, 31 Oct. 2011. Web. 14 June 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0jY1-j4QzI>. ↩