According to the EPA, Americans made 250 million tons of trash in 2010. Eighty-five million tons were recycled/composted (up from 15 million tons in 1980). That's a 34.1 % recycling rate. This prevented the release of approximately 186 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air in 2010-equivalent to taking 36 million cars off the road for a year.
Trash also affects the communities close to the landfills. It leaches toxins into the surrounding soil and water and contaminates the air when incinerated. The majority of landfills and incinerators are neighbors to the poor, elderly and minorities.
Because everyone has different trash and different priorities, the best way to define the goal of less trash to landfills is to pick one area of trash to address. Below are some suggestions to help individuals make personal goals.
Reduce by only buying what is needed. Buy recycled material, buy bio-degradable material, buy re-useable instead of disposable and buy items without hazardous ingredients (cleaning supplies, pesticides, etc.).
Reuse by composting. Yard trimmings and food make up 27 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. That's a lot of waste to send to landfills when it could become useful and environmentally beneficial compost instead.
Visit yard sales and/or have yard sales. Donate unwanted items to area thrift shops, the Really Really Free Market, Shenandoah Women's Shelter, ReStore, a Habitat for Humanity based shop in Martinsburg where one can buy and/or donate gently used construction items.
Terracycle.net Start a brigade, earn money. Up-cycling is using something for which it was not intended. For example, make a re-usable bag by sewing the bottom of an old t-shirt together. Find more ideas on the world wide web.
Check earth911.com for listings of local places to recycle a variety of things. Take paper/cardboard to the Halltown Paper plant. The Goodwill takes regular household donations and also computers.
Some recycling will pay! Cash in metal at ConServit in Hagerstown, Md. Or start a brigade at www.terracycle.net with things like plastic storage bags, drink pouches, corks, yogurt containers and more.
Some places charge a fee for recycling- but pledge to zero landfill when you drop off your electronics including freedomrecycling.com.
in Williamsport, Md. and e-End in Frederick, Md. (eendusa.com).
The big box stores recycle. Best Buy takes various electronics including computers, cell phones, cables, etc. Staples takes business supplies including ink and toner cartridges (money can be earned by returning these) and batteries- rechargeable and most others under 12 pounds. Home Depot recycles batteries and light bulbs
The Jefferson County Transfer Station (landfill) will take most recyclable items and send them to a sorting facility in Baltimore, Md. Jefferson County Solid Waste Authority is located at 332 Jefferson Orchard Road ,Kearneysville.
On Saturday, May 12 at Shafer Park in Boonsboro, Md., the Boonsboro Greenfest will recycle shoes, bikes, pharmaceuticals, electronics and so much more. Check it out at www.boonsborogreenfest.com/recycling.php.