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Garbage, Garbage Everywhere
Over 250 millions tons of garbage is generated in the US each year alone. Of that only about 30% is being recycled. That is only what is recorded in landfills, there is much more out there. Some of this will break down over time, naturally decompose, with the help of legions of life forms designed to live off rot. Plastics and other such materials will not. Batteries and technology have harmful substances that pollute and poison. People need to take a more active role in the proper way to dispose of these items. We can't keep pushing it off until tomorrow. Eventually a time will come when we have done so much damage, there is no turning back. Unfortunately, I think that day is closer than we think.
Plastics do not decompose like most other waste. Exposure to the sun breaks plastics down into smaller pieces of plastic, not down to the elements that made the object.
Recycling is the easiest way to properly dispose of anything. Plastics account for about 25% of materials in landfills. If all the plastics that are thrown away each year were recycled instead, we would have no need to make new plastic bottles, bags or containers. Unfortunately plastics (and all garbage really), don't always make it to landfills. It's scattered everywhere people are and in a lot of places they aren't. Once someone tosses a soda bottle, or other plastic, down or out a car window, it can be picked up by animals, land in a body of water or simply carried by the wind somewhere else.
Plastic bags and rings have been know to get wrapped around animals causing injury, abnormal growth and death. On top of this plastic secrete toxins, major build up of plastics in any given are can be quite devastating. If you have to use plastics, please take them to the proper disposal areas.
Batteries pose another problem in human waste. They are classified as hazardous waste and not only end up in land fills, but also all over the place. Batteries contain a very toxic fluid, just getting it on your skin can cause problems. Imagine what it does to the environment it is carelessly tossed into.
Proper disposal needs to be taken into account when a battery is no longer useful. Household hazardous material collection sites collect AA, AAA, C, D, 6-volt, 9-volt and button batteries. To avoid making multiple trips, keep all of your unneeded batteries in a box or other storage container in an out of the way place. Once the box is full take it to the appropriate location.
Vehicle batteries can be taken to most places that sell them, those companies will make sure those types of batteries get to the right places. These are among the worst items you can improperly dispose of. One leaking is the equivalent to a small toxic waste spill and it has the potential to devastate an area.
Electronic waste covers anything that needs to be plugged in or anything that requires the use of a battery or other power source. Proper disposal is important due to the hazardous materials and precious metals these items contain. if you have electronics that you no longer need or want, donate them, give them to friends and family or find a near by location that accepts this kind of waste.
The Big Green Box is an international program designed for the proper disposal of electronic waste and for common household batteries that include alkaline, NiCd, NiMh, lead, silver, mercury or lithium batteries. A person pays a small fee to get the box and ships it when it is full. The fee is used cover the cost of disposal, shipping and handling.
Both of these options are a wonderful way to cut down on e-waste. Choose whichever works best for you. No matter what, any option other than just throwing is away is a good choice.
Great North Atlantic Garbage Patch
Sadly just like the Pacific, the Atlantic also has a garbage patch. It is about the same size and was discover in 1972. Both floating garbage "islands" consist of mostly plastics with other bits of human waste that floats. I don't want to even begin to hazard a guess as to how much is sitting on the ocean floors.
The Atlantic garbage patch has been under study for the last 22 years, looking for the true scale of the amount of debris that has accumulated. After this long, they still don't have an answer. So much more garbage is added a year that it is impossible to determine the ultimate scope of the mess.
Not only have we been to careless with the land we inhabit, we have done huge amounts of damage to the oceans as well. At this point all we have is a guess as to how much damage has been done. Considering we have explored more of the moon than our worlds oceans, the guess is probably a massive understatement.
We have to Act
Humans are everywhere, but developed nations tend to make the biggest mess. If people in these nations can't be persuaded to take even the smallest steps in cleaning this up, how can we hope to get everyone involved? No one generation is solely responsible for the mountains of waste that dot our world, but most everyone alive today has played a part in creating this mess. Recycling and cutting down on individual waste needs to be practiced by every one. Those are just small steps but if everyone helped out, it would go a long way. We need to come up with more effective waste management techniques and we need to do it quickly. This is the only world we have, we can't ruin it. We need to take steps now, so our children don't have to clean up our mess. So we don't hand future generations a wasteland, and an apology.
© 2014 Katrina