Most communities offer some form of recycling and many people are taking advantage of these programs. It's a good thing too, because contrary to what most people believe, the items put into landfills aren't going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, researchers who study garbage have seen that landfills "are not vast composters; rather, they are vast mummifiers." There is biodegradation, but it's pace is measured in centuries, not decades. Even organic materials, such as food scraps, remain unchanged after 30 or 40 years. Mr. Rathje and Mr. Murphy, authors of RUBBISH! The Archeology of Garbage, cite an account of an excavation of an ancient Roman garbage dump in which the smell of putrefaction remained unbearable even after 2,000 years because instead of decomposing, the trash was mummified.
So if garbage isn't going anywhere, including our paper (which makes up over 40 percent of the contents of landfills by volume) and grass clippings, then what can we do to help keep things out of the tombs that are landfills? Because eventually we're going to run out of space to put our trash. One answer is to keep a "Waste Journal."
>> Need a new journal to get you started? Check out this one from Ecosystem that is 100% recycled!
For one week, write down or keep track of all the trash your family generates in an Excel or other electronic document,. From the Q-tip you use in the morning to the cotton ball you use to remove your eye make-up at night, write every single thing down. Most people under report the amount of trash they create when asked. We like to think that we're much more eco-friendly than we sometimes are, but a private (and accurate!) waste journal may show you where your levels of trash could be modified. It may prompt you to recycle more of your glass, aluminum and paper products.
You may decide to start a composting bin in your yard for grass clippings and food items! You can also start using more green products to try and reduce your waste or use more of what you have, such as the rhine of a lemon! If you do keep a journal for a week, or even a few days, please let us know how you think you fare in terms of garbage/recycling. We'd love to know ways that people are reducing their eco-footprint.