Saturday, May 2, 2009

What are you throwing away?

Since I'm on the "going green" topic thought I'd share something I read in a recent Dear Abby column that my mom gave me. It's a list of how long it takes common trash items to decompose in our landfills (or anywhere):

Paper...2 to 5 months
Orange peels...6 months
Milk cartons...5 years
Filter-tip cigarettes...10 to 12 years
Plastic bags...10 to 20 years
Leather shoes...24 to 40 years
Plastic containers...50 to 80 years
Disposable diapers...75 years
Tin cans...100 years
Aluminum cans...200 to 500 years

While reading thru this list I see a lot of items that can be recycled like paper, plastic bags, plastic containers and cans. If you're not already recycling I hope this list inspires you to start now. We've been recycling for years, but we still had about 2 or 3 bags of trash each week. However, since we've started recycling cardboard and paper in addition to the plastic, glass and cans, our trash is down to ONE bag a week!

When I read the list I was suprised by the leather shoes. It seems like items like that should be donated, NOT thrown away. I can't tell you how many items I see in the trash in my neighborhood every week that should've been donated instead of thrown away! As I drive by I think to myself "I'll bet someone else could use...that tricycle...that bike...that baby gate..." (The worst was when my neighbor told me she had thrown away a bunch of baby clothes!!!) Why don't people donate these items instead of filling up our landfills???

The item that really got to me on this list was styrofoam. I didn't realize it NEVER decomposes - that was shocking! Everytime we get carryout or a "doggy bag" I worry about the styrofoam containers they come in. (A lot of places have plastic ones which isn't perfect but it's better than styrofoam.) Next time you're thinking of getting a "doggy bag" please think twice, I know I will.

So the next time you go to throw something in the trash, think about this list and ask yourself these questions: Can I donate it to someone else? Did I really need to have this item in the first place? Can the item be recycled? In other words, "Reuse, Reduce and Recycle!"

1 comment:

Crystal said...

It always amazes me at some of the stuff that I see in the trash of neighbors as well. But I'm sure the same people who drive through picking through the trash in our neighborhood hit yours too! :)