Thursday, July 21, 2011

Trash by any Other Name Smells as Sour

Key idea: If you aren't recycling, WHY NOT?

My Dad told me something very interesting last week. He throws out about six bags of trash a year. Only six! That really benefits him because the trash pickup in his area is done by paying per bag. So, he spends about $12 a year to take care of what he can't compost, burn in his woodstove, or recycle. Can you say the same about your trash output?

I find it disturbing the names of some trash companies. There are at least five of them that growl their way through my development once or twice a week. We have the ever-present Waste Management (do I need someone to manage it for me?), the new Evergreen Waste Solutions (using green and solution, of which garbage dumps are neither) and others who are a bit less ostentatious about what they do.

Do you ever think about what goes in your trash can? Isn't there a good chance it contains stuff you could be recycling (the styrofoam tray from the chicken that you were too squeamish to rinse?), food items that could be composted or put down the disposal, or paper that can be disposed of elsewhere? What about stuff that you simply don't have to throw out? Donate used electronics to the thrift store, look up how to recycle cardboard on or find a clever way to use those old socks with holes (dust rags, sock puppets, etc.).

Here's some sobering data about how the United States compares to the rest of the world in trash production, er, "waste generation." For those of us unaccustomed to the metric system, 760kg equals 1,672 pounds per person...or more than 3/4 of a ton of trash every year. That's sick.

So, in conclusion, let me give you a pat on the back for putting your soda bottles and aluminum cans in the recycle bin. But, don't just stop there--first evaluate what you've got and then recycle, compost, reuse or flat out eliminate buying something that you will end up throwing away. 

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