Landfill is not the answer

Let’s talk about dumps, tips and landfill. They are not the answer. Not even close. This is from a visit in one of the villages we work in in Cambodia. It’s right near town, it’s on the rice fields that people eat from. The toxic sludge it has created makes its way into the local river ways. The people working here earn about $3 a day. A lot of them are drunk on cheap red wine to be able to bear the stench and fumes. 30 of these truckloads enter this one site per day. Though there has been tireless work to get the kids here into schools – and it’s really worked – there are still kids here that help and live here.

Walking around it was easy to see nearly all of it was plastic. Over 90% we’d guess. The rest was mostly textiles (thanks to the fast fashion industry everything is terrible quality). One of the biggest problems is all those laminated single-use food wrappers. They are pervasive and most can’t be recycled (though some facilities take them so check your local!). For the developed world this is simply a matter of convenience – and it has to stop. It’s a choice – and you can spend a few minutes making a different one. For the developing world, it’s a matter of cost. The small servings mean you can pay for it on low wages. That’s a complex problem.

Ultimately companies upstream have to be held responsible for this. They should be taxed for environmentally irresponsible offerings. Certain items should simply be banned in many places and inevitably more eco-friendly alternatives will quickly be found (companies love to make money after all). Throwing everything into the ground is actually crazy. Give it a second pause and you’ll realize this is an insane way to go about life. Burning plastics is not the answer. Neither is landfill. It has to stop long before it ever gets here.

Read an article expanding on this here (including many more photos).