Do you ever think about how much garbage there is in the world? Do you stop before throwing something in the trash and wonder where it ends up, if it decomposes, or if it sits there for years? Most of us don’t put much thought into throwing something away. Someone comes to our house each week and dumps our garbage in a truck and takes it away. That’s all we know, right?
Well wisegeek.org says, “…with the garbage produced in America alone, you could form a line of filled-up garbage trucks and reach the moon. Or cover the state of Texas two and a half times. Or bury more than 990,000 football fields under six-foot high (1.8 meter high) piles of waste.” That’s a lot of garbage. And that’s just our country. That does not include other parts of the world.
According to ThinkQuest, the average American person generates 1460 pounds of garbage per year! This does not include businesses, schools, hospitals, etc. All this garbage just goes to landfills to sit there. Most of it does not decompose into useful resources. The space used for landfills could be space for farming, producing more food for our country instead of just harboring our waste.
The earth’s resources are limited and throwing things away does not help grow more resources. Also, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, “We're treating the oceans like a trash bin -- and plastic accounts for 60-80% of marine litter. So much plastic is flowing into the sea that marine animals are dying, our beaches are polluted, and our health may even be at risk.” Plastic can be recycled if you must use it. Due to the chemicals in plastic that can leech into food and water, it is best to try to buy products not packaged in plastic and not to use plastic food containers.
ThinkQuest also says that in the United States, almost 95% of our original forest area is gone. If we recycle and reuse paper, we can reduce using the remaining resources, letting them grow and provide homes for animals and cleaner air for us to breathe. If we do not save our natural resources, we will one day run out.
Factories that make brand new items also produce pollution while producing products. By reusing what we already have or buying second hand items, we are reducing how much new stuff has to be produced, therefore reducing pollution. Repurposing items like newspapers as weed control in a garden is much more efficient than throwing it in the garbage.
Natural gas, oil, and coal are natural resources that are also used in production of items and energy. If we reduce our energy usage by turning off lights when not in the room and unplugging appliances when not in use, we can save some of these natural resources. In winter you can set your thermostat to 68 degrees or less during the day and 55 degrees when you go to bed (and use more blankets instead) or when you’re away from home. In summer you can set your thermostat to 78 degrees, even turning it up more when you are not home. Doing these things will save on energy and will keep more money in your wallet. We also can try out renewable energies like wind and solar power instead of fossil fuels. (And the government offers an incentive right now to do so!) This will cut down on pollution and they will not run out like fossil fuels will do someday.
Things you can do to help
Avoid these items when you can, and use the re-useable alternatives:
- Fast food containers – cook at home instead
- Disposable diapers – try out cloth…it’s really not as bad as you might think
- Styrofoam or plastic packaging – try to buy secondhand items with no packaging or items with less packaging from the store
- Plastic bags – use cloth when you go to the grocery store
Cut down on items like office paper – use both sides of paper before recycling or repurposing it instead. Buy less. We really don’t need as much as we think we do. Donate anything you don’t use or want to a charity. Someone else may need what you would have thrown away.
There are many things we can do to help take care of God’s green Earth. If we don’t start as individuals, no one else will do it. We must each be responsible for ourselves and what our families consume, reducing our waste. Little by little, we can make a difference. So remember the three R’s and recycle, repurpose, and reduce!