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Maggie's Story

I had many influential experiences at Earth Camp this year, but the one I hope will affect my life the most was seeing and learning about the place where Tucson’s garbage goes. Everyone dumps their trash in the garbage bin and puts it on the side of the road. Usually, a lot of unnecessary stuff goes in there. There’s leftover food that could become rich soil for your plants, glass bottles that could be recycled, even candy wrappers that could be made into rope. One day each week, the big green garbage truck comes along and takes the disgusting garbage out of our lives- or so it seems. What really happens is that the multitudes of garbage trucks swarm around the city dumping what we don’t want into their insides. Then, they bring all that stuff to its permanent resting place in the landfill. The landfill is absolutely massive, and it’s getting bigger every day. We visited the dump at around 9:00 a.m. and the amount of garbage was already incredible. In this picture, you can’t even see one-fourth of the trash that had already been dumped. There’s also the fact that only one-fifth of Tucson’s garbage would have been picked up during that whole day. As you might guess, all that waste is not the best thing for the environment. Trash blows everywhere, despite the thirty-foot-tall fence. The water used to keep the dust down doesn’t go into the water supply and is reused, but it becomes very toxic. A lot of this garbage will take thousands of years to biodegrade. As if all of that weren’t enough, methane leaks through pipes in the sides of the landfill, contributing to global warming. Clearly, landfills are not sustainable.
After seeing this ridiculous amount of garbage, I decided that I should do something to limit the amount of trash that enters the landfill. There are a lot of actions I can take to reduce that impact. I already recycle and compost, but I sometimes put things in the trash without thinking about it. I can stop that habit and encourage other people to do the same to do the same. I will ask my parents to bring their own bags to the store when they are shopping. Something else I can do is to bring my own reusable containers to restaurants to put in leftover foods . I can also have an affect on the amount of waste produced when I eat at a restaurant by asking the employees not to use as much unreusable materials. If my school doesn’t recycle, I can talk to the principal and other teachers and convince them to use recycling. Finding out about alternative ways to handle trash and advocating for them is also something that might limit the bad effects of garbage. Finally, I can try to reuse things I might otherwise throw away, such as making starburst wrappers into cord. It's fun.