Every day, each of us creates over four pounds of garbage. In a year, the USA alone generates over 220 million tons of trash. Half of our trash ends up in landfills and stays there practically forever. Landfills are designed to hold garbage away from the soil and groundwater, so waste tends to not rot, break down or reduce in size at all. This means we constantly need more landfills and that more garbage ends up in the environment.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about 35% of that is recycled each year. This is a great start, but I’m concerned that this really doesn’t touch the total volume of garbage that could be repurposed, recycled and kept out of landfills forever.
Repurpose Garbage Before You Throw It Out
Repurposing or reusing our unwanted items delays the date they will end up in the garbage or could possibly stop this process altogether.
I like the following suggestions that help reduce waste in our landfills. Paper and cardboard are perfect for crafts, jotting down notes or messages, shredding for mulch, extra insulation and possibly animal bedding. All yard waste and vegetable kitchen scraps, which contribute to about 20% of all garbage, can be composted for a beautiful garden. Plastic and metal containers can be used again to hold a variety of items. An old jelly jar might be perfect for holding nuts and bolts in the garage. A scrap of cloth or paper wrapped around a soup can makes a great pencil holder or vase.
Recycle Everything You Possibly Can
I was shocked to discover that approximately 28% of all garbage is paper and cardboard. All of this can be recycled, but it still ends up in the landfills or environment in large quantity. Let’s adopt a zero tolerance recycling policy in our homes and try to get one started at work as well.
Most municipal and private recycling service providers like Brazos Valley Trash Valet accept all paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, metal and similar recyclable materials. Since you do not have to sort these items and can use just one bin, the process is very convenient and wastes no time.
Larger items can be recycled as well. All of our electronics and computer equipment must be hauled away instead of tossed into a dumpster or trash can. Various parts from these items are recycled to be used again. Things like car batteries, home batteries, inkjet cartridges, compact and tube fluorescent lights can all be recycled when you take the time to find the proper method in your location.
When we look at this vast list of items that can be repurposed and recycled, it’s easy to see a large percentage of things that end up in the landfill do not have to be there. Eventually, everything wears out, breaks too much to repurpose or simply becomes unwanted or unnecessary. I believe recycling is the best option for effective waste reduction.
The EPA’s studies about garbage and recycling show that about 75% of all garbage in the United States could be recycled. As mentioned above, we fall short of that number by 40%, which equates to millions of tons of waste in the landfills and pollution of our beautiful Earth.