April 19, 2005

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Glossary Title
3 Rs The three ways to minimize the amount of trash thrown away: Reduce, reuse and recycle. (See below for definitions of each.)
Biodegradable Broken down into smaller and simpler chemical substances by natural processes, such as wind, heat or water, and/or microorganisms.
Compost The act or product of biodegrading organic materials, such as food scraps or yard waste. The finished product is used by gardeners to add nutrients back into the ground.
Daily cover A cover of 6-12 inches of dirt that is put over the trash at the end of each working day at a sanitary landfill. Daily cover helps keep odors down, keeps pests away, prevents fires, keeps trash from blowing away and prevents moisture from trickling through the trash (which can pollute the groundwater below).
Decomposition To break down into natural elements; decay. For instance, a banana peel thrown on the ground will look different a couple weeks later because it's decomposing into small parts and going back into the earth.
Dump An unregulated place where trash is dumped, and the surrounding environment is not protected or monitored. Dumps used to be common, but are now illegal in the United States.
Garbage "Garbage" and "trash" are used interchangeably to refer to worthless and/or broken things that people throw away.
Groundwater Water that's beneath the earth's surface between soil and deep layers of rock. This water supplies springs and wells, and may be used to supply drinking water.
Household hazardous waste (HHW)

Products in your home that could be dangerous that you no longer want. HHW is usually some type of chemical waste, or an irritant (can cause soreness or swelling of your skin, eyes or internal organs). These chemicals can be toxic (poisonous), corrosive (able to dissolve skin or other materials), reactive (causing fire or harmful gas if mixed with other chemicals), or flammable (capable of burning easily), Some examples are: gasoline, motor oil, paint, pesticides, antifreeze. HHW should never be thrown away in the trash because it can contaminate the environment.

Incinerator A facility at which trash is burned instead of buried in a landfill. The ash from the burning must still be landfilled.
Landfill A specific area used to bury solid waste. Usually referred to as a "Sanitary Landfill" when designed with a special liner and monitored to ensure health and safety.
Liner a landfill’s liner keeps trash from leaking,
Materials Recovery Facility
(Recycling Center)
A place where recyclables are transported to, sorted by material, processed, and then shipped out to be made into new products or materials.
Natural Resources The things provided by nature that humans need in order to survive. Examples include water, air, plants, soil, animals, energy ( fossil fuels and sunlight), and minerals. Resources can be renewable (able to be reproduced on a continuous basis) or non-renewable ( once the supply runs out, there's no more).
Recover Buying products made from recycled materials. By purchasing recycled-content products, we reduce energy consumption, reduce pollution, create new business opportunities, and conserve more of our national resources.
Recycle To make something new out of something old by changing its chemical or physical properties; the third and least important of the "3 RS," because although recycling is good, it still requires energy and creates some pollution to make new items.

To create less trash in the first place; the first and most important of the "3 RS" Buying less and using fewer materials in your daily life are ways to reduce.

Doing whatever you can to NOT make trash. Examples include packing a waste-free lunch, not using disposable products (such as paper plates and plastic utensils), and buying products with the least amount of packaging.


To use something over and over again; the second most important of the "3 RS" Examples include using an old yogurt container to store pennies in or donating old clothes to charity.

Sanitary landfill A landfill that follows rules set by the federal government, including having an underground liner, a leachate collection system, a method for venting gases and using daily cover.
Solid Waste Trash that comes from homes, businesses, construction projects, schools and other institutions. Solid waste is not the same thing as sewage. Solid Waste Management refers to the control, collection and disposal of solid waste in an environmentally and economically sound manner.
Trash Anything that is thrown away because it is broken, used up, or no longer needed.
Vermicomposting A method of composting food scraps by adding redworms to them in a specially prepared bin or box.
Yard Waste Grass clippings, leaves, sticks, logs or any other plants that people throw away.
Zero Waste A goal that would result in very little waste being created. People would find ways to reduce the amount of materials used in the first place and to reuse or recycle worn or unwanted materials.
Glossary of recycling terms
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