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Landfills Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

If you've ever wondered where your garbage goes after you throw it out, this lesson is for you! Learn about landfills and some of the problems they have. Then, test yourself with a short quiz.

Where Does Garbage Go?

When you take out the trash, do you know where it goes? Maybe it goes on a truck. But where does the truck go? Where is it taking all that garbage and what happens to the garbage afterwards?

That garbage is probably going to a landfill.

A landfill is a place where we bury garbage in the ground. We put garbage in landfills because it's smelly and ugly. Imagine if you just threw your garbage out into the street: gross, right? Nobody wants to look at that. So we take it somewhere people don't live, and we bury it in the ground. Then we don't have to smell it or look at it.

A lot of trash ends up in landfills. Every year, Americans put about 134 million tons of garbage in landfills. That's the same weight as 602 skyscrapers. Imagine taking 1 out of every 3 cars in the entire United States, and putting all those cars in a big pile. If you did that, the pile would be around the same weight as the amount of garbage we throw into landfills every year.

Landfills hold a lot of garbage
Landfill

Problems with Landfills

When garbage is in a landfill, we don't have to look at it. But there are big problems with landfills.

Landfills are bad for animals. They aren't built where people live, but animals do live there. We're basically dumping a bunch of garbage all over those animals' homes.

Landfills also pollute the environment. The garbage that we throw away includes a lot of dangerous chemicals. When rain falls on a landfill, it can wash the chemicals out into nearby lakes, rivers, and streams. This is bad for fish. It's also bad for people who drink the water. Newer landfills try to avoid this by putting up barriers around the trash. But these barriers can leak, and not all landfills have them.

Another problem is gas from landfills. When garbage rots in a landfill, it makes dangerous gasses. These gasses are bad for the environment. They can also cause health problems for people that live near the landfill.

Landfills cause pollution, harm animals and can even harm people
Garbage in a landfill

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