Earth Day Science: Learning about Landfills Where Does Our Trash Go?
Have you ever really thought about what happens to our trash after the garbage truck hauls it to the dump? What exactly is a landfill and how does it get rid of all the trash we make in our community? Many garbage dumps also have a place to drop off recyclable materials but some people think it’s no big deal to add all their trash to the landfill without sorting the recyclables. Let’s take some time learning about landfills today!
Landfill Science Project
Today we’re going to make our own landfill but on a much smaller scale than the ones in our community. This is an easy landfill science project for kids who like to learn visually, as they can see how garbage changes over time.
- 1 Outdoor planter or box
- 1 Piece of paper
- 1 Plastic food container lid
- 1 Banana peel or other fruit
The banana peel, paper, and plastic lid are the trash for this experiment.
Fill the planter with soil.
Create three holes in the soil and place one piece of trash in each hole. Cover the trash with soil.
Place the planter in a spot where the outside elements will reach the soil. Direct sunlight, rain, and even freezing temperatures are great for this experiment.
Let the planter sit outside for about a week. Letting it sit out even longer will intensify the effects of the sun, rain and frost. Water the soil if it doesn’t rain.
After your trash has been sitting in the landfill for a while, it’s time to see how the garbage has been changed by the soil and weather.
Our results showed that the paper had become soggy and crumpled. It was no longer usable and would continue to break down if left in the soil.
The banana peel had turned brown and shriveled. Again, if left in the soil it could have decomposed further. Eventually breaking down completely into the soil and helping the land and the soil.
The plastic lid looked the same as when we placed it in the soil. It showed no signs of wear or breakdown. It wouldn’t have broken down and still won’t break down.
What did our landfill show us?
Certain materials break down in landfills better than others. Burying our trash only works if the garbage biodegrades over time. Otherwise we’ll have giant holes filled with trash and we could run out of space! Sorting our trash to place recyclables in the correct containers can help reduce the amount of garbage that goes into the landfills. And if the landfills are full of biodegradable materials, the trash will breakdown over time allowing for more space to put the garbage from our community. Learning about landfills can help us learn how to reduce our waste!
What can you do to help?
We can all do our part with adjusting a few things in our living. We can start to separate our trash into recycle and trash, so that we send less to the landfill and recycle things that can be used again in other products. We can try and use those items that don’t break down – like plastics – again in our own homes. When we are at restaurants, shops and places that do recycle do our best to recycle to help reduce their waste as well. Even little changes can make bigger impacts if we all make the efforts to change. How will you make a change within your home?
Want more information about landfills and how they work? Check this out!