Which is Better for the Environment: Landfills or Compost?

This is where trash gets seperated into the different categories, make sure you put your trash in the right bin.


This is where trash gets seperated into the different categories, make sure you put your trash in the right bin.

Drew Hardister, Vice President/Journalist

Let’s first look at composting, it’s environmentally friendly and safe, as well as cost-effective for individual households. The benefits of composting are as follows, it adds lots of nutrients to the soil and it helps plants grow, it also adds fibers to the soil to help hold moisture, it decreases the amount of waste in landfills as well. You can also sell the fertilizer that you don’t use and make a profit from it.

Jonathan Weidler said, “I sold some of the fertilizer that I made last year, composting isn’t hard, you just have to know what to put in it and what not to put in it.”

You can also put worms in your compost they help to aerate your bin and help the process happen faster. (FlickrCC)

Some of the negative effects of composting include the attraction of insects and rodents which may or may not try to get into your house, as well as the storage bin or area that you put the compost in, will take up space in your yard. The process also takes lots of time about 8 months, and you can’t just let the stuff sit in the bin you have to turn it and mix it, to let air get into the mixture. The mixture while curing will also release a small amount of greenhouse gases, due to the natural decomposition of the materials.

Weidler says “You can put most things in your compost, like food scraps and yard waste, but you want to avoid large logs. You can also put manure in the mixture, although I personally don’t.”

Now let’s take a look at landfills, they are on a much larger scale than the compost. A landfill is a giant hole dug in the ground with a liner at the bottom, and trash and other wastes are dumped in there, and when it fills up they cover it with a liner and they put grass or plants over it, you can build things like golf courses on it because they don’t need foundation.

Some benefits of landfills include they’re easy to build and operate, They use the greenhouse gases produced as fuel, and you can use the land for something else when the hole is filled.

Walter says “Landfills are useful, and they can be made pretty quickly.” Landfills are the most widely used method for getting rid of trash, some of the disadvantages are the amount of space that a landfill takes up. It’s also possible for a hole to get in the liner and some leachate or toxic chemicals from the decomposing garbage get into the groundwater.

Walter says “It’s also a common misconception that the trash in the landfill decomposes over time, but the amount of time it takes for the trash to actually decompose is unbelievable, due to the landfill being covered up. So there isn’t any airflow which inhibits decomposition.

Composting and landfills both have many benefits for society and the environment, but the composting route has fewer disadvantages, so it’s better for the environment, although the best thing for the environment is probably a mixture of both methods.

This is what a landfill with a liner looks like, but this is a small one, usually they’re on a bigger scale. (FlickrCC)