Generate Less Waste, Save Money and the Planet
Did you know you generate more than 1,600 lbs. of trash each year? According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American throws out 4.43 lbs. of garbage each day. Only about 34-percent of this amount is recovered; the rest goes straight to landfills.
Why should you care? Good question; and here are the answers: More money in your pocket and a healthier planet. I’ll explain how that works later, but it’s important to first understand how to actually reduce the amount of trash that makes its way into the dumpster.
Recycling isn’t a new concept. In fact, it’s been around for several decades and continues to expand nationwide. According to 2010 statistics published by the EPA, 96-percent of auto batteries, 72-percent of newspapers and 67-percent of steel cans are recycled. This is great news, but landfills nationwide are still littered with recyclable items.
Plastics are a perfect example. We love our plastic water bottles and grocery bags in America. These and other plastics account for about 31 million tons of the total municipal waste output in the U.S. The alarming part is that only about 8-percent of these plastics are recycled.
Today’s modern recycling facilities can sort through and process virtually any type of plastic, including plastic
grocery (EPA) bags and water bottles. In fact, the product packaging of pretty much anything you buy at the store is recyclable, so make sure it ends up in the recycle bin rather than the trash can.
If your curbside trash hauler doesn’t offer a recycling program, check out Earth911.com to find a recycling center near you.
Composting has become increasingly popular in recent years, even in urban communities. For example, CompostforBrooklyn.org turned a vacant lot in Brooklyn, NY into a huge community composting project. In 2011 alone, members of the community dropped off 8,600 lbs. of food scraps for composting. Organizations like these are everywhere; just do a little research online to find one near you.
Composting is easy to do, and it will significantly reduce the amount of waste that ever reaches your trash can. People choose not to compost for many different reasons, so let me debunk some of the myths that may be holding you back from giving it a try:
No, compost piles don’t stink! (when done correctly)
No, it doesn’t require a ton of space and can even be done indoors.
No, it’s not time consuming or high maintenance.
No, compost piles are not mice and raccoon magnets.
More than half the stuff you’re throwing in the trash can is compostable. Paper products are a great source of carbon – one of the main components of composting – and paper products account for 28.5-percent of all municipal waste in U.S. landfills. Wood, yard waste and food scraps account for more than 33-percent of total municipal waste in the U.S., all compostable items.
You’ll want to avoid putting meat, dairy and other animal products in the compost bin to avoid a bad smell or unwelcome pests. Compostable items include fruit/vegetable scraps, egg shells, paper, twigs, leaves, weeds and even vacuum residuals. You can learn a little more about how to compost correctly by checking out an infographic called Composting 101 we put together recently at our company blog.
Maintaining the compost bin/pile is easy. All you have to do is mix the material one-to-two times per week to aerate the mixture, and keep it moist. That’s it!
How it Saves You Money
Now the part you’ve been waiting for! How does reducing the amount of garbage you generate save you money? Well, a couple different ways actually.
First, cutting back on the amount of trash you generate helps save on the cost of your trash hauling service. Why pay your curbside trash hauler for more container than you need? Downsize to the smaller container and save money. For example, we recently cut the amount of trash generated in our household by about 50-percent using the techniques described above, and we were able to downsize our trash container and save a few bucks on a trash service at the same time.
The second way you can save some cash is by never buying fertilizer for your lawn and garden ever again. Compost is filled with nutrients, safe for kids and pets, and best of all, completely free!
How it Saves the Planet
Where do I begin…
Reducing the amount of waste reaching landfills benefits the planet in many different ways. Here are just a few:
Fewer landfills, and thus lesser risk of groundwater contamination
Lower greenhouse gas emissions from landfills (i.e., carbon dioxide, methane)
It’s safer to use all-natural fertilizers (compost) compared to commercial varieties
Recycling processes often use less power compared to virgin manufacturing processes.
It’s important to remember that small changes lead to huge improvements over time. Simply reducing how much waste you generate will pay off in the long run by helping improve the health of the planet, not to mention keep your wallet a little bit fatter.
Joe Eitel is a web content writer for Hometown Dumpster Rental, the leading online resource for finding local dumpster rental and junk removal service providers nationwide. Find him @HealthyDose and Google+ (Joe Eitel).