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Glossary

This list contains words from the Recycling and Waste Reduction section of EEK! and more to help you with reports or homework.

  • biodegradable: when a substance is able to be broken down by microorganisms into basic elements like carbon dioxide and water. (See "decompose.")

  • bottle bill: a law requiring deposits on drink containers, like aluminum cans and plastic bottles. This law may keep people from littering and or filling up the landfills.

  • casting: the waste material of worms.

  • composting: a process that allows you to decompose some of your table scraps and yard waste. This is done by a layering process so everything decays into fertile humus (or new soil).

  • conserve: to protect something from becoming overused or lost all together. Conservation is the wise use of natural resources to avoid wasting naturally occurring resources or using them up completely.

  • decompose: to break down into component parts or basic elements; or to rot. Decomposition is an organic process necessary for the continuation of life since it creates essential nutrients that plants and animals need and use.

  • dump: an open unsanitary site for junk. These are now illegal in Wisconsin.

  • energy recovery: the creation of energy by burning solid waste materials.

  • garbage: spoiled or waste food that is thrown away. This does not include dry material or trash.

  • groundwater: water beneath the earth's surface that fills the spaces and flows between soil particles and rock. Groundwater is what you find in wells and springs. Two out of every three Wisconsin citizens drink groundwater.

  • hazardous waste: poisonous waste that can cause problems for living organisms or the environment.

  • humus: organic material consisting of decayed vegetable matter. It provides nutrients for plants and allows soil to better hold water.

  • landfill: a site where solid waste burial is controlled and managed.

  • leachate: a liquid that comes from solid waste that may be contaminated. Some times leachate can contaminate ground or surface water.

  • litter: any waste material thrown or left in an inappropriate place. Littering is illegal in Wisconsin and there is a fine.

  • methane: a gas that is colorless, odorless, flammable, and potentially dangerous. It is formed when organic matter decomposes and can be used as a fuel.

  • natural resource: naturally occurring material such as soil, wood, air, water, oil or minerals. They are valuable to people, plants, and wildlife.

  • nonrenewable resource: a natural material that is considered finite in amount (e.g., coal, copper, petroleum). This is because it takes a great length of time to form (longer than a lifetime, maybe more).

  • organic: created from living organisms.

  • pollution: harmful substances left in the environment, leading to a dirty, impure or unhealthy place.

  • raw material: an unprocessed natural resource or product used in manufacturing.

  • recycle: collecting and reprocessing already manufactured materials for remanufacture either as the same thing or as part of a different product. (Taking a plastic bottle and turning it into a park bench or another bottle).

  • reduce: to lessen in amount, number or other quantity.

  • renewable resource: a natural resource that comes from an endless or repeating source like the: sun, wind, water, fish, trees, cotton.

  • reuse: to extend the life of an item by using it again, repairing it, modifying it or creating new uses for it.

  • sanitary landfill: a specially designed site for disposing of solid waste on land. These are now constructed in a way that reduces hazards to health and safety.

  • solid waste: all solid, semi-solid, liquid and gaseous wastes, including trash, garbage, yard waste, ashes, industrial waste, construction waste, and household discards such as appliances, furniture and equipment.

  • solid waste management: the controlling, handling and disposal of all solid waste. One goal of solid waste management is to reduce waste to the least amount possible.

  • source reduction: a reduction in the amount and/or toxicity of waste entering the waste stream - also called waste prevention.

  • trash: material considered worthless, not necessary or offensive that is usually thrown away. Trash is generally defined as dry material and excludes food waste (garbage) and ashes.

  • worm casting (castings): Undigested materials, soil, and bacteria excreted by a worm. Basically worm manure.



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