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  • Bychuck it
  • April 7, 2016
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How long does it take for waste materials to decompose?

How long does it take for waste materials to decompose?

Waste Management in MichiganHave you ever wondered what happens to your trash once it is taken away?  You may be surprised to find that the answer is actually quite varied.  Depending on the material, it can take anywhere from a few short days to millions of years for something to decompose!  Let’s take a closer look at some of the common items we use and how long they really take to decompose.

 

 

Time Common Items Take to Decompose

  • Plastic bottles: Just think about all of the water, laundry detergent, shampoo, cleaning supplies, and so much more that you use on a daily basis that comes in a plastic bottle.  It takes on average anywhere from 70 to 450 years for them to decompose in a landfill!  That bottle of laundry detergent will be sitting around in a landfill for centuries to come after you toss it.
  • Plastic bags: Although many are hopping on the reusable grocery bag bandwagon, a lot of us still come home from a shopping trip with dozens of plastic bags.  Where do most of those bags end up?  In the trash, where they will eventually go to sit in a landfill for a whopping 500-1000 years.
  • Disposable Diapers: It’s a fact…there really is not a lot you can do with these items other than tossing them in the trash, but did you know they will take anywhere from 500-800 years to decompose in a landfill?  Your baby will most certainly leave his or her mark on the planet.
  • Aluminum Cans:  It’s easy to pop open one or two Diet Cokes per day and not think twice about tossing them into the trash when you are finished.  However, those cans will remain in a landfill decomposing for the next 200 years to come.
  • Glass Bottles:  A beer or two on the weekend might end up in your trash can.  That glass bottle will then leave its mark on the environment for an incredible 1-2 MILLION years to come.  Can you imagine the footprint left behind by just a few fraternity parties?
  • Cigarettes: Many don’t think twice before tossing a used cigarette out on a roadway.  Although many cities do their best to clean up these nuisances, those that get left behind will remain there for 10-12 years before decomposing.  That’s one long smoke break!
  • Food Waste:  We throw out a lot of food.  That is evident with just one meal with a picky toddler. The amount of time it takes for food to decompose can vary.  For example, a banana peel or apple core may take around 1 month.  On the other hand, an orange peel will take up to 6 months.

 

Stop The Cycle Of Waste!

There are many ways we can help to break this cycle of trash ending up in landfills for hundreds, thousands, even millions of years to come.

 

Use Alternate Products

We don’t have to use a lot of the products mentioned above.  In today’s world, we are being given “greener” options every day.

  • Try a water filtration system in your home rather than drinking bottled water.
  • Reusable grocery bags which will replace the plastic counterparts for your next grocery run.
  • Try cloth diapers over disposables.  Not only will you save thousands of diapers from a sentence of hundreds of years in a landfill, you will save thousands of dollars too!

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

There are probably very few cities left, that do not recycle.  Once you get used to taking a few extra seconds to recognize what is recyclable and toss it into a bin, it will become second nature. Things discussed above like aluminum cans, glass bottles, and plastics can all be recycled and reused for another purpose, thus sparing them from centuries in landfills potentially releasing harmful chemicals and toxins into the environment.

Compost Away

Setting up a compost pile is an excellent way to avoid a significant amount of food waste from heading to landfills and instead using that waste to nourish the soil in your own backyard.  Composting can be a bit intimidating for novices, but fear not, there are plenty of resources to get you started.  Check out this site for beginner composting 101: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1323

Break The Habit

By eliminating smoking from your life, you will not only find yourself healthier, but all of those used cigarette butts you may have consumed will not end up on the side of the road for the next decade.  It’s a win-win for everyone!

Let’s face it….trash is a part of our everyday lives.  In some cases, there is no way around it.  There will likely always be landfills for many years to come.  However, by making a few easy changes we can all do our part to cut down what ends up in our landfills and make our planet a happier, healthier place for generations to come.

Chuck It Junk Removal is committed to doing our part as well.  We make sustainability a high priority when removing items from your home or business.

Give us a call for your next junk removal project!  1-888-924-8254.

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