Five pounds isn’t that much, right? Most people can lift a five-pound weight, carry five packages of butter or pick up a half gallon of milk. But five pounds adds up, especially when we’re talking about trash.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces five pounds of trash a day. That trash ends up in landfills that use chemicals that are harmful to the land and people around it. That’s a long way away from a simple half gallon of milk.
Regardless of the fact that the number of landfills in the U.S. is decreasing, we as responsible citizens must take action to reduce our waste production. Recycling may be an obvious step forward, but it is often taken for granted. According to Earth911.com, 90 percent of recyclable materials turn up in landfills. The biggest reason for this is neglect. If we decide not to take the initiative to check labels for recycling symbols before throwing them in the trash, we are adding to the rising number of recyclables that end up in landfills.
If you come across an odd item that isn’t normally recyclable, try Terracycle, a local company whose goal is to eliminate the idea of waste. The group collects items that were previously non-recyclable and converts them into new products. You can save your hard-to-recycle products and take them to a Terracycle collection center. This way, we can further reduce the amount of recyclable material that ends up in landfills.
Even more important than recycling is the idea of reducing the waste that we as individuals create. We can do this by making more environmentally conscious decisions in our everyday routines. Instead of eating a breakfast served in plastic wrappers and paper, choose something that has minimal or no leftover junk. When buying products, think about the packaging that will eventually turn into waste. By questioning your daily garbage contribution, you may be able to drastically reduce your trash production.
When we treat trash with the old saying “out of sight, out of mind,” it piles up at an alarming rate. We should be ever conscious of the waste we produce if we want to reduce the amount of trash and chemicals that is invading landfills. Recycling, even when it’s difficult, is crucial. If an item does not have a recycle symbol on it, don’t forget our good friend Terracycle. When we work together, we can create a cleaner, greener world for everyone to share. So the next time you go throw something away, think about your five pounds, and think about how you want to affect the earth.
– Victoria Scheirer
Westminster Choir College Eco-Rep