By Maria Hannah Louise Pili

Thoughtful waste management practices in our homes make a big impact on our city’s bigger waste bin, often referred to as sanitary landfills.

Sanitary landfills are sites for the disposal of waste materials; this is an area where waste is isolated until these decompose through biological and engineering processes that make them less toxic over time.

It is a safer and more organized system of waste management that involves a large pit in the ground, a thick lining of plastic, a compacted clay liner, pipes at the bottom pit to collect liquid waste residue.

Landfills produce high levels of methane gas, which is one of the greenhouse gases that contributes to the worsening of climate change and adds to the vulnerability of people to respiratory diseases like asthma.

My city shares the Metro Clark Sanitary Landfill with municipalities in Central Luzon, localities in Pangasinan and La Union, and even Manila. The facility collects 3000 tons of garbage daily, but it can only hold so much in the long run.

“Of course, we have to think how it (landfill) adds to the air and water pollution, especially the people who drink using poso,” Jenny Alfonso, a Capas resident stated.

Another risk is contamination caused by liquid residue leak through underground water. This is harmful to residents who use water wells as their source of drinking water. As contaminated water brings risks of diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, and typhoid.

“The impacts of this landfill on our health worries me. ‘Di lang communities na malapit do’n ang affected, but the whole town.” Lleonise Danne Sicat, a 15-year old resident of Capas said. According to Sicat, it is important that she raise awareness, even just in social media, about the effects of infrastructures, like the landfill, on the health of people and to the environment.

The benefits and the risks of landfills show us that citizens should work hand in hand to make it safe and sustainable in the long run.

According to experts, a landfill is just like a large full trash bag that just sits in your kitchen. As more bags accumulate, your kitchen will become full and inhospitable.

That is why proper waste disposal at home is important so that we can prolong the life of our shared landfills, and keep its detriments to the community at a minimum.

According to the UN’s The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World, these are some of the ways that we can help manage waste:

  1. Stop paper bank statements and pay your bills online or via mobile. This means that shifting to paperless for daily transactions means producing less waste.
  2. Compost—composting food scraps can reduce climate impact while also recycling nutrients. This is where our biodegradable waste can be put to good use!
  3. Recycling paper, plastic, glass & aluminum keeps landfills from growing. Going to recycling markets or seeing your friendly ambulant dyaryo-bote-bakal collectors can help the environment and help you add coins to your piggy bank.
  4. Buy minimally packaged goods. This tip is helpful especially when you are doing your groceries.
  5. Choose a better diaper option. Swaddle your baby in cloth diapers or a new, environmentally responsible disposable brand. If you have a baby at home, keep this in mind!
  6. Use a refillable water bottle and coffee cup. Cut down on waste and save money when buying drinks!
  7. Bring your own bag when you shop. Avoiding single-use bags means avoiding waste!

Recycling and a life lived with less waste are always a better option than just relying on landfills. We can do this together! ###

Word count: 593

This article was written and prepared by Maria Hannah Louise Pili (Student-Journalist) and Jennifer Frialde (School Paper Adviser) from Tarlac National High School-Main, Division of  Tarlac, as a final output of DepEd-DRRMS and AYEJ.org’s Green Beat Initiative: An Online Environmental Journalism Training.