Edible Landfills

Posted on Jun 25, 2013 in Green Tip

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful saw this online and had to replicate it with students from Rockdale Academy! Introducing, the Edible Landfill. Who knew learning about a giant pile of garbage could be so yummy!

A landfill is a state-approved and designated area of land where natural conditions and man-made modifications produce an environmentally safe location for disposing solid waste. Landfills are the modern-day version of a dump, which was basically an accumulation of discarded garbage, debris, tires, old refrigerators – anything and everything that we didn’t want anymore. Dumps caused numerous issues such as odor, diseases and methane gas pollution. Thanks to some intervention from the government, landfills were born to protect the environment and people from . . . our trash!

To help students differentiate between a dump and a landfill, KCB constructed an edible version layer-by-layer.

  • Layer 1 – We used a graham cracker crust as the base layer of clay. The landfill starts out with a 3’ layer of clay to prevent leachate (a.k.a. garbage juice) and pollutants from getting into the soil and groundwater.
  • Layer 2 – For the heavy duty plastic liner, we used fruit rollups. The liner provides an extra layer of protection on top of the clay to prevent leaks.
  • Layer 3 – Using pre-peeled licorice strings, we added the leachate pipes. Leachate sinks to the bottom of the landfill and escapes through tiny holes in the pipes.
  • Layer 4 – For the drainage layer, we spread broken pieces of vanilla wafers. A layer of sand, gravel or sometimes even shredded tires, serves as a drainage layer. This layer helps the leachate sink down to the pipes, and adds more cushion for the protective plastic and clay liners.
  • Layer 5 – Now for the gooey part – the trash! We mixed “M&M”s into vanilla pudding until it looked greenish brown. Students pour the “trash” into the landfill.
  • Layer 6 – Once your landfill is at capacity, you add a layer of soil. In this case, we used chocolate pudding.
  • Layer 7 – The final layer of the landfill is grass. We used coconut shavings colored with green food coloring.

And voila! A sanitary landfill you can eat. Enjoy!