• The EPA has concluded that all landfills will eventually leak into the environment.
  • Our food travels hundreds of miles TO our plate and then our garbage travels miles and miles FROM our house - how to get it and keep it all closer to home?
  • When we leave home, we make on average five times as much trash as if we stay in. Until everyone brings their own wares, event greening is vital to divert organic waste from the landfill and keep resources flowing.
  • Americans waste or cause to be wasted nearly 1 million pounds of materials per person per year.

 

  • About 94 percent of the materials extracted for use in manufacturing durable products become waste before the product is manufactured . . . 80 percent of what we make is thrown away within six months of production.
  • For every garbage can placed at the curb, the equivalent of 71 garbage cans of waste is created in mining, logging, agriculture, oil and gas exploration, and the industrial processes used to convert raw materials into finished products and packaging.
  • In the U.S., we generate enough trash each day to fill 44,919 garbage trucks that hold 9 tons of trash each.
  • Each year the U.S. disposes of or destroys more than 30 million tons of hazardous waste, 250 million tons of nonhazardous industrial waste, 136 million tons of construction and demolition waste and 165 million tons of municipal solid waste.
  • Organic materials continue to be the largest component of municipal solid waste by weight: paper and paperboard products account for 35 percent of the waste stream, with yard trimmings and food scraps together accounting for about 24 percent. Plastics comprise 11 percent; metals make up 8 percent; and rubber, leather and textiles account for about 7 percent. Wood follows at 6 percent, and glass at 5 percent. Miscellaneous wastes made up approximately 3 percent of the municipal solid waste generated in 2003.
  • Each individual generates about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year – about 4.5 pounds per person, per day. If we continue this pattern, we will have each created 90,000 pounds of trash in our lifetimes.
  • Every ton of recycled material saves 2.5 cubic yards of landfill space. The 868,000 tons of paper, glass, metals and plastic recycled in the Portland metro region in 2001 saved about 2.2 million cubic yards of landfill space.
  • Recycling 868,000 tons of materials replaces the expense of siting and operating two additional regional transfer stations in the Portland Metro region.
  • Methane produced by landfills is a major greenhouse gas 20 to 30 times more potent in its greenhouse effects than CO2.
  • Landfills are the largest human-related source of methane in the U.S., accounting for 34 percent of all methane emissions. Methane is generated in landfills and open dumps as waste decomposes under anaerobic conditions.

{mosimage}Shrink your ecological footprint

Volunteer or Learn More with our Newsletter

The Sierra Club teamed up with a group called Redefining Progress to bring more sustainable habits to peoples’ attention. We hope you’ll take time to assess your own footprint - sierraclub.org/footprint/, then resolve to do something about it. Below are some of the easiest ways you can reduce your impact. Even small actions – taking public transport to work instead of driving, say, or eating locally produced foods – can make a big difference if you do them regularly.Food Impacts saves:    * Increase the amount of organically grown food that you eat by 50% 0.1 acres    * Increase the amount of locally grown food that you eat by 50% 0.2 acres    * Increase the amount of unprocessed and unpackaged food that you eat by 50% 0.3 acres    * Eat a vegetarian dinner instead of meat once a week 0.5 acres

Compare "price" with "priceless:"

Dry 12 loads of laundry per month (costly energy useage) on the clothesline, instead of n the dryer 0.1 acres

Shower 3 minutes less per day, 0.1 acres

Set the thermostat 5 degrees lower in the winter,  0.2 acres

Transportation Impacts saves:

  • Drive 20  fewer miles per week 0.3 acres
  • Fly 5 fewer  hours per year 0.3 acres

resource: The Sierra Club

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Plastics

 

  • In a single day, we make enough new plastic to equal the amount we recycle in one year.
  • Know that "recycling" is not just "recycling. It is "downcycling" in the case of plastics. Plastics manufacturing invariably requires virgin resins to remake plastic products.
  • Buy and use your own high quality, non-leaching water bottle. One-time use "recyclable bottles" often contain water that is more contaminated than tap water and leach toxins into the water. Glass or stainless steel are best. When using plastic, wash out daily with soap and hot water to limit bacteria build-up. Never expose your soft plastic water bottle to heat or sunlight.
  • Research Nalgene to know the truth about safety practices associated with this product.
  • Each year plastic pellets kill over one million sea birds.
  • Reduce usage of disposables: Razors, pens, batteries and lighters. All of these common items and more have reusable options. Every year, Americans throw away 350 million disposable lighters, 1.5 BILLION ballpoint pens and 2 BILLION plastic shaving razors.
  • Americans go through 2.5 million plastic bottles an hour in this country. Thirty million end up in landfills. It is NOT enough to recycle. Reuse, reuse, reuse.
  • Get off plastics - bad for people, bad for the planet. We survived before it and a more concerted effort can get us off our plastic addiction.

Paper

  • Join  email lists for your news and groups, reduce printed matter
  • Read the newspaper online. Each day we throw away 44 million newspapers and recycle 20 million. That's equivalent to dumping 500,000 trees a week into the landfill.
  • Get off junk mail lists - each year Americans suffer from 4 million tons of junk mail. Your household saves 1.5 trees by getting off that paper treadmill.
  • Be aware that recyling paper does really matter - one ton of paper saves 17 trees.

Rethinking habits

Think about how you would have been doing things, living your life, making purchases 50 years ago. No store provided bags, cups, utensils, plastic packaging. Go bulk, go reusables, bring your own grocery bag!

Think about where that product came from, and where it and its packaging will go when you are through with it.

Buy local, organic produce. The average American dinner components travel thousands of miles. Save fuel and protect the climate - buy local.

What it means to the individual:

Aiming for zero waste means rethinking your every habit and practice. Then you reduce, reuse and recycle. Analyze the role of "want" in your life, then try to adapt with the planet's wants in mind. Pay attention to what you NEED and what the planet needs.Create a game to challenge yourself:Try to throw NOTHING in the garbage today. What did that make you think more about?Where did it come from and where does it go when I am "done" with it?