Monday, May 4, 2009

What happens to your trash?

I just got done watching Oprah's Earth Day show (just a couple weeks late). It was a real eye-opener. The show started with a video talking about how the biggest garbage dump is actually in the Pacific Ocean. It's 2 times the size of Texas and spans from the coast of California all the way to Japan!!! You MUST watch this video!!! I will never be able to pass by liter again without picking it up!

As if that wasn't bad enough, look at what happens at our landfills! A few things really struck me in this video:

1. That is a HUGE amount of garbage being sent to our landfills every day - 8,500 tons (6 days a week) at just this one particular landfill in California! Think about how much garbage is being collected every day over the entire world!!!

2. Lots of things are being thrown away that could've been recycled like paper and plastic bottles. I was shocked to learn that PAPER is the largest thing that's found in the landfill!!! It's so easy to recycle - why aren't people doing it???? Even if your trash/recycling company doesn't take paper, look for other locations that will take it. Lots of our schools and the library in our town have recycling dumpsters in the parking lot for paper products. The best part is that the organization is getting paid for every piece of paper you donate. We have a special basket in our home for paper - every time it's full I just take it to work with me and throw it in the special dumpster. Click here to find a dumpster near you.

3. Like I mentioned in my post the other day, people are throwing away things that others would love to have! The thing that really got to me in the video was when I saw the piano being tossed onto the ground! Our family would LOVE to have a piano! Even if it was broken we could pay less than the cost of a new one to get it fixed. I wish people would stop throwing things away that someone else could use!!!

4. Each day the huge "garbage cells" at the landfill are covered over with dirt. When I heard that I began to wonder: What happens to the soil once all that trash decomposes? What chemicals are being released into the soil and eventually our water systems?

Another shocking thing I learned from this show is that each person on Earth uses 300 plastic bags a year! Think about it - garbage bags, Ziploc bags, bags your fruits and veggies come in, grocery bags, shopping bags. I've already changed my usage of plastic bags: for the last 2 days, I've packed my lunch items in reusable containers and when I got take-out today (non-styrofoam container) I gave the plastic bag back. What can you do to reduce your use of plastic bags? (Also, be sure to recycle the bags you do have at places like Walmart.)

I know the last few posts I've really been "standing on my soapbox" so to speak. But that's because I really feel strongly that each one of use should be doing our part, everything we can, to help the planet and future generations. I want to end on a postive note, check out TerraCycle, this amazing company who sell items made from waste. They started out selling fertilizer (aka worm poop) packaged in old water and pop bottles! They also make lunch bags and other bags out of juice pouches. What a great idea - turning trash into something we can actually use! I love it!

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