Garbage numbers I shouldn’t throw away

So, I was thinking about recycling and whatnot and planning on posting a series of entries about green wrapping paper. No, not crap you’d pay too much for at Whole Foods. I mean real stuff that I can do and give as part of the gift, useful and welcomed rather than a tacked-on idea for greening it up and assuaging the guilt a consumer-driving holiday can bring.

Oh wow, I must be in a mood equal to this drizzly crap outside. Well, point still stands.

Then I was reading some stats and thoughts over on Sustainablog. Here’s the deal. If you do the math, you can see that we really only need to throw away 3.3% of what we really throw away, if that at all. This is from an EPA report. We could reuse and recycle everything but that mysterious “other” 3.3%. Food, yard, and wood can all be composted (or re-used in the case of wood sometimes. Not sure if they mean lumber. I bet a lot of that is construction waste, which I KNOW can be reclaimed (as I have dumpster-dived myself) and thus reused in smaller projects). Even city dwellers can compost, and <idealist> it’d be a great thing to have a whole building maintaining a compost pile on the roof, garden patches nearby. Worm bins, too.</idealist><realist>

Plastics, papers, metals, and glass are all recyclable. My own recycling company takes every plastic number there is. Anything unmarked, well, I try not to buy that. I don’t use Saran wrap for that reason.

Rubber, leather, and textiles can all be reused until they disintegrate. Rubber, like tires, can be chipped up and used on paths. Just do a search on rubber sidewalk and you’ll see lots of municipalities doing just that. Better for the joints to walk/run on, better for tree roots to grow near and in. I thought I read that in The Green Guide, but I can’t find the article. Bottom line, tires can be reused that way. Leather and textiles scream “Goodwill” to me, and then it’s sweet sweet refashioning all the way. Or just wearing them straight up.

Let’s see. What does that leave? Just that 3.3%, which can be reduced even further by smart consumption and reuse. Of course, I’m assuming that electronics, appliances, and other mixed items that have glass, metal, and plastic combined are all recycled and carefully broken down into their parts.

I think I’ll track my daily trash consumption and see what it is, mainly. Judging by my trash can at work, it’s mostly, if not fully, napkins and food wrappers. That’s easy to change. Don’t grab the fast food napkins when I do eat out, eat out less, and bring my own lunch!

Well, more on this later.


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