The average American produces around 5 pounds of trash a day. According to the EPA, in 2017 the US produced 267.8 million tons of wastes, including paper, glass, metals, plastics, food, wood, rubber, textiles, other inorganic wastes and other organic wastes. In 2017 the largest portion of waste found in landfills was paper. Over the past 30 years, the US has been making more and more waste at a staggering rate.
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Now that we have talked about some figures lets talk about how long it takes for the main three types of “trashes” to decompose. Also I want to talk about the benefit of recycling and composting when we touch on each one.
Paper products and organic compounds.
Based of volume and weather it can take up to six weeks for paper and paper products to decompose in a landfill. The average for American landfills is 2-3 weeks. However, many times the paper is just wasted since it can not be recycled or composted via landfills.
Recycling paper is SUPER easy and I feel like should be very common. You see in offices all of North America big bins of paper that needs to be shredded. But where do the shreds go? Well to the land fill… UNLESS you find a paper recycler!
Adding paper to your compost is an good way to keep your paper from land fills. It does take about 3 weeks to decompose in a compost but the benefits are amazing. Paper helps the roots of plant hold moisture and help decompose other organic materials as well.
Cardboard can up take to 3 months to decompose in a landfill. Which is still pretty quick compared to the other “trashes” we are going to talk about. However, it is just as easy to recycle or compost cardboard rather than throw it away. Cardboard it found EVERYWHERE. Food. Shipping. Take out boxes. The box your TV came in. You get the picture. I see a lot of times after holidays or massive movie in days for college towns, cardboard piled in and around dumpsters. WHY NOT RECYCLE IT?!?!?!
In most towns, there is either a dump (in which there is a space for cardboard) or a recycle center. And guess what! If you don’t have a dump or recycle center YOU CAN COMPOST IT! Its a great source or carbon for you gardens and plants. It also helps keep the smell of rotting food out of your compost! It smells like dirt.
The amount of Food waste we as Americans have hurts my heart so much. Working for a grocery store I see it WAY TOO MUCH! Plus the amount of food that goes to waste at home (I’m just gonna cry now) Food waste can take 3-6 months (depending on the food) to decompose in a landfill. Now we all know we can’t recycle food. Well there is compose. BUT if you work with food or know someone who does suggest donations to food banks and zoos. There is a lot of food that can not be accepted by food banks because of the laws that govern them. However, some zoos will take food donations for their animals.
Also, YOU CAN COMPOST A LOT OF FOOD!!!!!!!! For a refresher on composting see picture below 🙂 For foods you can’t compost then okay throw them away. But maybe consider removing or cutting the down in your diet, especially if you keep wasting them. Also, Please do not put cat litter and pet feces in composts that will be awful. Just try me.
Plastics: Bags, Bottles, and Everything else
Most sources give different year ranges for each of these items. Most commonly, plastic bags are agreed to decay after 10-12 years in a landfill. Plastic cups and bottles take around 450 years (estimated). And plastic toys, kitchen items, and other plastic made items can take up to 1000 years (estimated).
Luckly, almost all plastics can be recycled. The only down fall is…. is it really being recycled? Companies all over the US offer recycling options for trash from customers but many of them don’t actually separate the trash from the plastic.
One specifically comes to mind but I won’t say it. Other times companies will actually be trying to recycle but the industry taking care of it doesn’t actually recycle the bottles. There is countless articles and sources that show the US recycle industry isn’t working. If you have yet to watch it please watch the video below. It is the story of bottled water.
Now also think about all the other plastics that we use daily. If our recycling isn’t truly working, we have a PROBLEM! Do we want out children growing up in a world covered in trash? NO? Then let’s fix this problem with the recycling of plastics in America. And lets teach children that we need to waste less and recycle more. You know what I am going to say… recycle. Wait didn’t you just go off about how recycling plastic doesn’t work? Yes, I did. And Yes I still want you to recycle!
Thank you for coming to my rant of the day… lets move on.
Metals, Diapers and Glass
Tin and aluminum cans find there way into land fills everyday. Some studies say that America recycles 120,000 cans a day. Whoot! Go America! But there is also enough aluminum cans in landfills to build 4 entire commercial fleet of airplanes in one year. Okay well that is a lot of waste….
There are many places that recycle cans. And Do Actually Recycle Them! Metals can be turned back into cans, used for car parts, phone parts, tv and computer parts, wire, chairs, tents, foil tins…. You get the picture.
Now as for diapers. A newborn baby uses on average up to 12 diapers a day. Most children use diapers until 3 or 4 years old. Also, elderly diapers and feminine products are grouped into this category. I’m sorry to say but in a world of trying to advance everything to be environmentally friendly. Diapers is incredibly lacking. You can chose to use cloth diapers. But, honestly, having used them, they suck. As for feminine product, we are developing better products like menstrual cups and absorbent liners and under wears.
Lastly Glass, why do we throw glass away at all? I get that broken glass is dangerous but recycle centers will still take it. And if you have a glass grinder in your area they will also take the broken glass. This stuff lasts for every. Since humans started making and using glass, we have had it. Literally, the oldest piece of man made glass is dated to 3,500 BC!
So take you time to recycle and compost!