Excess garbage is a worldwide, dirty predicament. According to the North Carolina State University Extension Service, every year the United States produces over 160 million tons of solid waste. Much of this garbage ends up in problematic landfills. Over 70,000 natural or synthetic chemicals are used all over the globe in the form of steel, plastic, paper, oil and electronic equipment. Disposed improperly, the effects of garbage on plant growth can be disastrous. Plants benefit exponentially from responsible trash processing.
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The Chemical Industrial Waste Crisis
Composting is the decaying activity that occurs normally in nature. Controlled composting speeds the rate of organic garbage decomposition and reduces the material's volume to produce rich humus that enhances plant growth and vigor. Sufficient amounts of nutrients, air and water are vital for microorganisms to break down the raw scraps and transform them into usable plant food. Compost core temperatures of over 140 degrees will destroy most weed seeds and pathogens for a safe end product.
Biological Consequences of Toxic Plants
Perhaps the most destructive global effect of garbage on plant growth is cellular distortions. Environmental contaminates can be passed along plant generations. Plant cells inundated with toxic material produce promutagens, precursors to mutations. According to the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, promutagens do not alter a plant's original genetic material but will reproduce mutated offspring. Further studies aim to identify antimutagens that may reduce chemical toxin damage.
Reclaiming Lawn and Kitchen Garbage
Everyday kitchen and yard refuse has the potential to produce some of the greatest improvements in plant growth. Dead leaves and grass clippings provide protective mulch for young and established plants to conserve water and dissuade weeds from hogging nutrients. Vegetable scraps and leftover food without meat products that normally would be put down garbage disposals or end up in landfills can transform into delightful plant food. Compost nutrients enrich the soil with natural elements that make plants grow faster and healthier.
Composted Landfill and Plant Development
Composted landfill garbage greatly increases the nutrient value of the soil and crop productivity. As landfill compost is increased in the soil, tomatoes and fruits show a greater response in growth to the additional nitrogen levels. Although 25 to 40 percent of land disposal system solid waste can be composted, there is also a high amount of inorganic materials that remain. These materials must be screened and removed before the compost can be used on plants.
- North Carolina State University; Using Municipal Solid Waste Compost; James E. Shelton, December 1997
- Environmental Protection Agency: Hazardous Substances and Hazardous Waste
- University of Illinois; The Role of Plants in Environmental Toxicology; Michael J. Plewa; 1991
- Connecticut Water Trails Association: The Effects of Water Pollution
- Natural Systems 1 Student Research; Amy Hall, et al; February 2003