Candy wrappers, gifts, cards and envelopes represent the holidays. They can be fun to look at, give and receive. However, these holiday treats are taking a toll on our environment. Mother Earth is running out of places to store our castoffs, and it’s a problem.
Fortunately, modern thinkers have invented as many ways to dispose of stuff as we have
to generate it. Some of these innovations are accompanied by new language used to
describe the processing, facilities and tools involved. Many American communities, small and large, have introduced trash programs and public awareness campaigns to get citizens interested in participating. Perhaps your community has rolled out some of these:
REDUCING LANDFILL TRASH – What we used to call just “garbage,” before we sorted cans, bottles and newspapers out of it, goes to landfills. We have limited land for this, and trash is getting into our oceans. Perhaps you have heard, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Landfill trash must be reduced.
COMPOSTING is what you do with food scraps (bones, fruit and vegetable peels, egg shells, etc.) and certain food-soiled containers (pizza boxes, waxed milk cartons, takeout carriers, coffee filters). Compost is collected in huge vats, often seeded with worms, to produce a substance that can be mixed with dirt and used for plants and crops. Some communities offer composting bins for free pick-up on garbage day. These are the same garbage cans where you would put yard clippings, which are also compost.
E-WASTE is the term for outdated or broken electronics. These items contain metal, plastic,
glass and sometimes batteries that can contaminate groundwater if placed in landfills. Some of these electronics components can be captured and reused in new electronics or recycled. If nothing else, they need to be disposed of safely. Your community may have an e-waste collection day or drop-off center. Check with your local sanitation department. Call our social workers to find a drop-off center in your area.
TERRACYCLING is a term used by a private company, called TerraCycle. The pride themselves on finding ways to recycle and reuse items that were once thought of as pure landfill trash, such as cigarette butts and juice boxes. Learn more at their website www.terracycle.com.
We made this mess and together we can clean it up. Thanks for your contribution!
“Sustainable Management of Electronics” at:
http://www2.epa.gov/smm-electronics – click on For Consumers.
“Sorting Out Waste,” a UNESCO publication, available at: