What is a landfill?


Have you ever seen the trash collector emptying garbage cans or dumpsters into his or her special truck and wondered where all of that trash goes? It can be easy to throw something away and forget that it still exists afterwards! 

In the United States, most garbage from homes is taken to collection sites known as “landfills.” Most landfills are large holes that have been dug into the ground which are then filled with garbage. In modern landfills, environmental specialists try to make sure things are done to prevent the landfill’s waste and any liquid run-off from seeping into the soil and polluting natural water sources. This usually includes practices such as lining the empty landfill with materials like plastic liners or clay. 

Even though it is good to keep our garbage (and its germs) away from us, landfills and other dumps still cause problems. Landfills require a lot of money to build and properly maintain. They also take up spaces in communities that cause problems. (After all, who wants to live next to a pile of garbage?) Instead of needing so many landfills, there are better alternatives for a lot of our waste. For example, recycling as many items as possible helps keep them out of landfills. Composting is also a good idea – this lets items like food scraps and yard wastes (leaves, grass clippings) decompose naturally and turn into nutrient-rich soil, and if you compost in your own backyard it also eliminates needing fuel to transport these discarded items.

Of course, the best idea of all is just using less in the first place to avoid making additional waste!


The average American creates about four and a half pounds of garbage every day. In one year, that adds up to over 200 million tons of trash, just from the United States!!

LearnElna Bau