Since the late 1970s, more than two thirds of U.S. landfills and town dumps have closed.
About 80 percent of the solid waste in this country is dumped into the remaining 7,000-plus landfills, many of which will be filled to capacity by as early as 1995. Disposal at the remaining sites will cost communities a king's ransom. In a few places, the cost is more than $100 a ton just to get rid of garbage.What's the solution to trash troubles? Follow the R's of conservation: recycle, reuse, repair and reduce, as suggested by Country America magazine.
- Recycling: People are already separating their garbage and taking the recyclable objects - glass bottles, aluminum and tin cans, plastic containers and paper products - to centrally located recycling bins. A few communities pick up separated trash at curbside.
No matter how it's done, recycling saves precious natural resources. For example, to produce glass from recycled bottles - rather than from raw materials - requires half the water and 68 percent of the energy. Recycling glass cuts air pollution by 20 percent and mining wastes by 80 percent.
Twenty-seven states have recycling policies on the books, and more are sure to follow in the coming decade. The United States now recycles about 10 percent of its solid waste; the EPA's goal is 25 percent by 1992.
- Reducing: Most people buy disposable items and products in convenience packaging; the minutes they save are costly. Packaging accounts for 10 percent of consumer grocery bills. The packaging ends in a landfill.
A better way? Buy in bulk, and stay away from disposables when there are other options. Use disposables only when necessary and use them sparingly.
- Repairing and reusing: Practice old-fashioned economy at home. Repair toasters, radios and other small appliances instead of buying new.
Mend clothing. When those old cotton clothes no longer hold together, cut them up for rags.