February 2, 2016 | Latest Photo
Pop quiz: What’s nine stories tall, blazing hot and can be seen from space? Answer: a giant pile of burning trash in Mumbai, India.
NASA satellites detected smoke and fire coming from the Deonar dumping ground, the largest landfill of Mumbai, at the end of January, the agency says. The fires burned intensely for four days, sending smoke into densely populated neighborhoods and pushing air pollution to the highest levels ever recorded, according to NASA.
Media reports from Mumbai say the fire was intentionally started, and three kids between ages 10 and 12 were responsible.
Landfill fires are particularly difficult to extinguish because they burn through mountains of flammable materials. Officials say they’re trying to control the spread of the fire by reshuffling the garbage and spraying water on it, the Mumbai Mirror reports.
Related: How to Be a Zero-Waste Consumer
The Deonar landfill receives 8.1 million pounds of trash per day, NASA reports, which is about a third of the city’s total waste.
If this image does nothing else, it should serve as a reminder of why it’s important to reduce the amount of waste we produce. To that end, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urges consumers to reduce, reuse and recycle to cut down on household trash. Here are six of their tips:
1. Learn to compost. Use food scraps, yard waste and other organic waste to create a compost pile. Then add your compost material to soil to increase water retention, decrease erosion and keep that organic matter out of landfills.
2. Have a yard sale. Instead of tossing out toys, clothes, appliances or books, make a little cash off your unwanted treasures while keeping them out of the trash.
3. Take advantage of hazardous waste collection days. If you have paint cans, old light bulbs, chemicals or other hazardous waste to dispose of, contact your town to see if and when they have a collection day in your community.
4. Use reusable containers. This applies to many areas of life. If you pack a lunch for you or your child, make a waste-free lunch in a reusable container. Bring your own bags to the grocery store. And opt for a reusable water bottle instead of disposable plastic ones .
5. Take only the napkins you need. All the extras you grab but don’t use end up in the trash. Similarly, don’t take eight packets of ketchup if you’re going to use only two. The same goes for food — don’t take three servings if you can only eat two.
6. Go paperless. Instead of printing hard copies of documents, save them to your computer or email them to yourself. Sign up for paperless billing with banks or credit card companies, and pay bills online when possible.
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