When you throw something away, where does it go? There is no “away”. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than 80 percent of our trash goes to a landfill. Only 20 percent is burned in incinerators with energy recovery. Most of the garbage you’ve thrown away, therefore, is still out there and will stay there for many years to come. According to The Clean Air Council estimates, 4.6 pounds of garbage is produced per person per day. A team of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology started a project called “Trash Track”, which makes t people think about what they choose to throw away and hopefully makes us think twice about buying disposable items such as water bottles and Starbucks coffee cups.
Easy Ways to Reduce Your Waste
Practice the three R’s: By reducing, reusing, and recycling, you can highly reduce how much waste you make. Try selling or donating things like clothing, appliances, and furniture that you no longer use. Always try to recycle before sending anything to a landfill.
Bring a bag: While shopping, if you only buy a few products skip the shopping bag. For larger purchases, bring your own reusable bag. Learn about the dangers of plastic bags.
Let the junk away: Don’t accept free promotional items, plastic bags, anything that you don’t need or want. Look for products with as little packaging as possible. Every little junk avoided makes a big difference!
Buy in bulk: Purchasing things in bulk containers can save money and reduce packaging waste. Whenever possible, avoid products that are individually packaged for single use. Instead, buy in bulk and start using your own reusable containers.
Always try to buy products made with recycled material, especially disposable paper products like paper towels, plates, tissues, and toilet paper.
Try e-cycling: Donate old electronics such as computers and TVs. Many electronics contain materials that are toxic when tossed in a landfill. If your community doesn’t have a recycling program or center for used electronics, contact the product manufacturer (or the manufacturer of the new unit you purchase) to see if they have a recycling program.
Pack a waste-free lunch: Use a bamboo lunchbox or reusable bag. Bring a mug or thermos with you instead of using disposable cups.
Swap your bins: Strive for bigger recycling bins and smaller trash cans. Pay attention to what you can reuse before buying something new. When comparing products, consider how they’re packaged. Encourage recycling by buying products made and packaged with recycled materials.
Ditch disposables: Whether it’s paper plates and plastic utensils or a safety razor, disposable products produce a ton of waste. Choose durable, reusable products instead that will last longer. Consider using metal utensils, washable plates, and rechargeable batteries.
Stop junk mail: Stop unwanted mailings and recycle any that you do receive.
Give waste-free gifts: Ask for gifts that don’t produce waste. Examples include donations to charity, seeds from your garden, tickets to an event (lecture, play, concert, etc.), or gift certificates for spas and media downloads.
Waste from one oil change can contaminate one million gallons of freshwater—a year’s supply for 50 people. Safe recycling of your used motor oil is easy:
• Being careful not to spill, put your used motor oil in a clean plastic container with a tight lid. Never store used oil in the same box that once held chemicals or food.
• Do not mix the oil with anything else, such as antifreeze, solvent, or paint.
• Take used motor oil to a service station or other location that collects used motor oil for recycling