By Nichole Baldwin
Have you ever wondered what happened to your trash after it goes to the landfill? Our regional landfill takes in 25 tons of waste a year and only a percentage of that is biodegradable waste. Our tree trimmings, food and paper waste, and natural fabrics can biodegrade within one year, breaking down back into their environment when subjected to ideal conditions. While a landfill does not always offer the proper atmosphere for effective biodegrading, there are things we throw away that can remain intact forever! If you get coffee at the gas station or bring home food from a restaurant in a styrofoam container, after you throw it away, it will never break down back into the environment. A glass bottle takes one million years to break down. Soda cans will begin biodegrading after about 80 years, while a tin can takes only 50. Nylon fabric decomposes in about 30 years and thick leather shoes only take 25. If you buy plastic coated milk cartons thinking you’re doing the earth a favor, you may be right. Plastic milk jugs will take 500 years to decompose in a landfill while plastic coated paper takes only 5 years. Most plastics are made with petroleum products that will never break down. Disposable diapers will last for over 550 years.
After reading that information you may be thinking that before long our trash will consume the planet and you’re right! Unless we begin taking steps to recycle to reduce waste and make wiser choices on what we do consume and throw away, that vision may become a reality. 70% of what we throw away can be recycled and made into something reusable. When we recycle we extend the life of our landfill and we save money by reducing landfill costs. The inevitable tax increases we face with closing our landfill can be reduced and even eliminated by beginning to recycle today! There are collection bins at the land fill and J&M Trucking takes recyclables. By the end of the summer, combined City and County efforts will make recycling a little easier by offering a more accessible location for recyclable waste near the landfill. This is just the first step in reaching our goals and we can’t do it without your participation. Stay tuned for more information about local recycling because times, they are a changin’.