will we have to eventually send our garbage into space
Kate O’Neill has not disclosed any affiliations other than her academic position. She does not consult for, own shares or receive funding from, or work for any companies or organizations that could benefit from the article.
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Will we eventually have to send our trash into space if we run out of room on Earth? Aiden, age 13, Maryland Heights, Mo.
Our planet holds a lot of trash. Since the Industrial Revolution , we humans have produced 30 trillion tons of stuff – from skyscrapers and bridges to clothes and plastic bags. Much of it is still with us in the form of waste.
Every day, humans add 35 million tons globally to the total. The worst part is that much of the garbage in the world is mismanaged, dumping it on land, waterways, and open dumps within cities and towns. This exposes people to serious health risks. The waste damages plants and soil. A lot of the waste ends up in oceans. It can be overwhelming to think about the mess we are creating.
In the U.S., managing trash is a big business.
Waste in space?
It’s not as unbelievable as it sounds to send trash into space. There’s plenty of room out there that no one has claimed yet.
Researchers have proposed launching waste into space. The researchers primarily think of radioactive fuel rods used in nuclear power plants. The truth is that nuclear waste will be hazardous for thousands of years. Humans need to do a better job of disposing of it safely.
Has never advanced on these proposals for many reasons. The first is the danger: what if a rocket with tons of highly radioactive trash exploded during takeoff? The cost would be much higher compared to the price of safely storing the waste on Earth.
Also, there are broken satellites as well as meteor debris in orbit. NASA estimates that there are more than half a million pieces the size of marbles or larger in Earth’s orbit. In a collision, they can cause severe damage to spacecraft because of their high speed. This problem is already complex enough.
Here’s a better strategy: reduce the amount of waste going into landfills and incinerators. Also, limit the amount dumped on land or in the ocean. It’s up to the governments to set regulations, such as allowing single-use bags. There are many ways to reduce waste.
Composting organic wastes like yard trimmings and food scraps is becoming more common in the United States. This reduces waste that goes to landfills and creates a valuable fertilizer.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Every step leads to less waste.
Choose reusable cutlery, mugs, or bags for grocery shopping instead of single-use items. Many cities and towns have made it the rule.
Many communities collect organic wastes like yard trimmings and food scraps. Then turns them into compost, a soil-like substance that gardeners and landscaping professionals use as fertilizer. Many gardeners compost their own at home.
can be reused by buying used goods and clothing and donating unwanted but still usable items. The Freecycle network makes exchanging functional goods you no longer need for other things easy.
Paper, plastics, and glass can be recycled to keep them from ending in landfills. It also helps slow climate change since creating new products using recycled materials takes less energy. In 2018, almost one-third of municipal solid waste was recycled or composted in the U.S.
Plastic bags and straws are difficult to recycle. Aluminum cans, paper, cardboard, and some types of plastic are all more easily recycled. What can be recycled in your area and How to recycle are essential. The rules differ from one place to another.
There are over 3 Rs that you can do. You can fix, claim and reinvent how you buy and use items.
Right to Repair is a topic that’s gaining in popularity. It gives consumers the information and spare parts they need to fix their products, whether it be electronics or cars. Many companies would prefer that you purchase new products, but others are calling for laws to make it easier to repair your own items.
You have many choices for reducing your waste before you run out of space. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to reduce waste once you start.