Every day, people dispose of billions of tons of trash. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American typically produces an astonishing 4.4 lbs (2 kg) of trash a day, which translates to 1600 lbs (725 kg) a year.
You may wonder where all this trash goes. It disappears from our curb side, but not from the Earth. Some might be recycled, some might be recovered, and some might be burned. However, the larger part gets buried in landfills.
How can we significantly reduce the amount of garage that ends up in landfills?
With a little planning, we could refuse, reduce, reuse or recycle a large percentage of landfill waste, which includes materials such as plastic, glass, metal, and paper. This would significantly lower the demand on virgin sources of these materials and potentially eliminate environmental, economic, and public health problems.
The plastic bag story. How to eliminate plastic bags from being sent to landfills.
To demonstrate how the refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle approach works, here is an example using your run-of-the-mill grocery bag.
You go to the store to buy some groceries. The nice lady behind the cash offers to put your food into plastic bags. What do you say? No thank you I already have some cloth bags. This is refusing. By refusing the plastic bags, you have diverted them from being put into a landfill altogether.
Let's say, you actually forgot your cloth bags. What do you do? You don’t want to take the plastic bags, but you have all this food. Instead of taking 4 plastic bags, why not try and put all your food into 2 or 3 bags?
This is reducing. You just reduced the amount of plastic that could potentially be disposed of into a landfill.
You go home with your plastic bags. Do you just throw them in the trash? Of course not! Leave them in your car and the next time you go to the store bring them with you to reuse. They can be reused for produce or meat bags as well.
Finally, if you are unable to reuse the plastic bags because they are too worn out, please recycle. To me the best forms of recycling are composting or upcycling.
Nowadays many plastic bags are biodegradable. So, why not let them biodegrade in your backyard composting pile or let them sit in a hot, active home to degrade?
If composting the bags is not an option, try upcycling, which is taking something that you would otherwise throw out and finding a way to make it into something else.
Yes, it’s recycling, but the difference with upcycling is that it transforms the item into something that has equal or greater use or value. I have seen baby bibs made of plastic bags; this would be a form of upcycling. *Please do not put a plastic bag around your child's head and use it as a bib.*
As a last resort, simply put them with your recyclables; that is if they are accepted at your local recycling facility. If not, many large chains, such as “Staples” or your local grocery store, take all plastic bags to be recycled.
So you see, living a greener lifestyle will in turn help to reduce and/or eliminate trash that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
These were just a few examples of the many ways to eliminate our trash daily.
How many things will you throw out today? Or this week? And how much will you try to redirect from a landfill by refusing, reducing, reusing, and recycling?
Need more tips on eliminating trash or have “trash” questions? Please feel free to contact me and I will help you start to live a greener lifestyle with less waste!
Source: Environmental Protection Agency