Solid Waste Management – Stories from the Trash Heap
Solid Waste is a fancy term for trash. In years past, no one much thought where trash went and what happened to it. We had unlimited space for piling up trash. We were also a society that didn’t waste much, so the trash per capita was much less. Of course, some people like my grandfather had a homemade trash incinerator in his back yard and burnt his trash, and it was a lot of fun to help him burn stuff, but air pollution is factor now that most of our trash is toxic plastic.
Now it is not so rosy for trash. Every ton of trash costs quite a bit to dispose of in a responsible and legal manner. That means everything you throw away has a price tag for disposal. Ultimately, through taxes or direct charges, you are paying to dispose of your solid waste and the solid waste generated by your government and schools.
To offset the cost of solid waste disposal you must recycle and so must our government facilities. There is a strong market for paper products to produce recycled paperboard, cardboard, and other products. Most municipalities can sell their paper and cardboard recyclables and make a good profit. So next time you go to throw away paper or cardboard stop and recycle instead. There is a double economic gain - money for the recycled materials and no solid waste disposal cost. However, any recycling that keeps items out of your trash helps.
Be creative in using materials you would otherwise put in the trash. If you have a backyard, think about composting yard waste and food waste. You can also push your locality to become a “Zero-Waste Community.”
Even more important reduce waste by buying products with less packaging or gently used products from thrift stores. Reduce is the most important step in the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle mantra.