In days gone by, when you opened something up, you simply threw away the packaging. You ate your dinner and threw away the scraps, and you tossed your ratty old sweatshirt, t-shirt or jeans in the dumpster when they had more holes in them than a chunk of Swiss cheese.
A Throw-Away Society
It’s not surprising then, that as a nation, Americans generate more waste than any other nation in the world with 4.6 pounds of municipal solid waste per person per day—fifty-five percent of which is contributed as residential garbage. It is estimated, for example, that Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour, with the majority of them being thrown away. New Jersey communities produce hundreds of tons of trash every day—household trash, industrial waste, old appliances, broken-down furniture—and the numbers are growing. It's been estimated that the amount of total solid waste generated within the state rises by about four percent per year.
We've come a long way from there in many regards. Today that journey of your old t-shirt and jeans or your Friday dinner leftovers entering the waste stream from garbage to landfill can take a very different route. That shirt or jeans can now be donated to a textile recycling center; the food scraps can now be composted; and every package you open is broken down and recyclable pieces are put in their appropriate containers.
In nearly every community, a variety of city and statewide initiatives exist to reduce the annual amount of garbage going into the waste stream. Recycling programs are in place for paper/cardboard and textiles, bottles and cans and electronic waste or e-waste. Most recently, composting programs have gained momentum in residential communities.
Keep it Clean
“Most of our communities, says Albert Pellegrino, president at P & A Management in Hamilton, “have municipal waste and county recycling but in one of our mid-rise communities, we have trash chutes and recycling buckets on every floor, making it easy for the residents to properly recycle, thereby reducing trash.” The key, Pellegrino says, “is to keep the trash room clean and empty the recycling buckets every day.”