Landfill Tour

There are a lot of different places you can visit to see what happens to your "garbage." You'll need to do a little detective work, because each city or town handles its garbage in a different way. Here are some suggestions:

  • Take a field trip to a local landfill to see how it operates.
  • Visit a "transfer station" where garbage is sent before it goes to the landfill.
  • photo of landfill
    Photo courtesy of the
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Track down your recyclables by visiting a recycling center.
  • Visit a glass-making plant, a paper mill, or an aluminium factory to learn how old bottles, paper, or soda cans are recycled into new ones.
  • See how recycleables are sorted, in some cities, by visiting a MRF (materials recovery facility).
  • Find out where all the stuff you use every day comes from in the first place. Take a field trip to a tree farm, a metal mine, or an oil drilling field.

    Field Trip Tips

    1. Locate a tour site. Find a field trip site by calling your city or county solid waste department or your state's conservation, environment, or natural resources department.
    2. Research the requirements. Call the field trip site and schedule a tour, find out directions, and ask if there are any special requirements. Field trip sites will most likely have a minimun age for participants and need adult chaperones.
    3. Wear the right gear. Make sure everyone is dressed appropriately for the environmental conditions. Because of garbage and other hazards, you should wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes, long pants, and a long sleeve shirt. Some sites may ask you to wear a hard hat and goggles for further protection.

    To Think About:
    What would happen to your garbage (and the garbage of everyone else in your area) if the landfill closed? What happens to a landfill when it is full? What does it mean to recycle and why are recyclables separated? Why is buying products made from recycled materials important?

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