Landfills statistics show an alarming amount of waste. Do you know that there have been only two recorded manmade structures that could be seen from outer space? One was the Great Wall of China. The other was the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island, New York. 14,000 tons of trash is being dumped into Fresh Kills every day. That’s 5,511,000 tons of trash every year! How can we manage this growing problem – reduce, reuse and recycle.
You can start with reducing your consumption. Reduce consumption of goods like fixing something old before buying something new or borrowing a book before purchasing a new one. You can reduce paper usage by using both sides of the paper before throwing it to the trash bin. You can reduce packaging by buying in bulk and refilling smaller containers for everyday use. Even these simple acts will help with waste reduction.
Reduce consumption of resources by limiting the amount of water that you use when washing the dishes. Dishwashers are generally more water efficient then washing by hand. However, if you are washing by hand try soaping all the dishes first. Then rinse them all together by rinsing one over the others, this will help you use less water.
You can reduce energy use by turning off anything that consumes electricity whenever it is not in use. This includes computers, TVs, and heating, ventilating and air conditioning units (HVACs). You can continue to reduce your carbon emissions by riding your bike or carpooling. Conservation of resources keep costs down and reduce our carbon footprint.
Once you’ve done what you can to reduce, reuse is the next step. You can reuse goods like glass jars for anything from homemade pasta sauce to nails in the garage. Paper bags are another great reusable item. They can generally carry more than just one load of groceries. And thrift stores aren’t just for saving money. One man’s trash could most definitely be another man’s treasure, at half the price.
Reusing resources, like water, is another way that your actions may benefit the environment. There are a few different methods of reusing water. Harvesting rainwater is one of the safest and cleanest ways to reuse water. The water can be used to wash your clothes or clean your floors and bathrooms. You can use graywater for your landscape and garden plants. This is drained water from washing machines, sinks and baths. Just be sure you have switched to green cleaners before you do that. Finally, there is reusing blackwater. This technique is not generally recommended but may be used for irrigation purposes.
So you’ve reduced and reused what you could, now comes the recycling. Many things can be recycled these days. Recycle your paper: 17 trees are saved for every ton of paper that’s recycled. Recycle your plastics: 7.4 cubic yards of landfill is saved with each ton of plastic recycled. Recycle your glass: many glass containers are 100% recyclable and requires 40% less energy than making new glass.
Large-scale recycling efforts like in the City of New York can bring $20 million in savings 1.1 million in jobs. It can also mean approximately 70 million tons of waste materials diverted from landfills due to recycling and composting.
You can be an advocate for recycling with your purchasing power. Look for products that utilize recyclable packaging materials. And before you throw usable goods into the landfill, consider that it may be someone else’s treasure and free cycle or donate it.
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