Solid Waste Management

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The terrestrial resource I chose was solid waste. The EPA defines solid waste as “any garbage or refuse, sludge from a wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility and other discarded material, including solid, liquid, semi-solid, or contained gaseous material resulting from industrial, commercial, mining, and agricultural operations, and from community activities. What this basically means is that anything that we produce and do not reuse is solid waste.

If you really stop and think about how often we see this in our everyday lives it is amazing. From our stop at Starbucks in the morning to get our cup of coffee and bagel where we throw away our cup and wrapper, to the drive to work where we pass garbage trucks packed to the brim, or maybe even that coal mine or water treatment plant. Once we are at work we are burning electricity typing away at our computers which is probably making waste coal at an electricity plant somewhere. It is easy to see how quickly solid waste can add up.

Unfortunately too, as time presses on the average human production of solid waste increases. The United States is currently the leading producer of solid waste with an average of 4. 6lbs per person per day. Canada comes in second. This adds up to 251 million tons of municipal waste per year for the United States alone. A management and sustainment plan is crucial to slow down the production of solid waste. The best place to start would be with the municipal users. This is all the residential and business solid waste production.

Although municipal waste is one of the smallest contributions to solid waste it is the best place to start because it is the easiest to influence. The way to influence it is to educate people. I plan on doing this by doing a lot of research about solid waste and creating a presentation to show on a local level and disburse on the internet in hopes of reaching people across the United States and the rest of the world as well. There will be challenges in doing this though. The most problematic will be getting people to change their ways.

Human beings are creatures of habits and unfortunately more often than not take the easier wrong over the harder right. To combat this I plan to make my presentation very moving. I will use pictures to show the impacts solid waste is having. People respond well to visual stimulation. I will also summarize the impacts using charts and graphs to give real definition to the problem. After this I hope to continue my sustainment plan by affecting the larger contributors to solid waste like mining. We rely on these resources to live. For example we still use coal to produce most of our electricity.

We are making movements towards renewable resources like wind and solar power. I will do my best to help influence my politicians to adopt new ideas that support the reduction of solid waste. I will write letters to my congressman with petitions to support adoption of new technologies and renewable resources. Although this may take time if we don’t start pushing this now we will just be further behind the curve as time goes on.

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