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Eco-Friendly Ways to Dispose of Junk

By December 29, 2023 No Comments

When it comes to natural resources, we only have one Earth. Yet, in the United States, we generate 300 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) yearly, which is equal to around 5 pounds per person per day.

Eco-Friendly Ways to Dispose of Junk Junk Removal Near Me

According to recent EPA data, up to 32% of this waste gets recycled. But that still leaves over 140 million tons ending up in landfills, with significant environmental impacts.

The good news is this amount has stayed steady since 1990 despite population growth. Still, we can do better to reduce our solid waste.

Rethinking our recycling habits: what we can do better

For many diligent recyclers, recent news has been disheartening. The closure of Chinese markets to foreign plastic waste, along with revelations about the recycling industry’s viability, have cast doubt on individual efforts.

It’s now public knowledge that only 6% of plastic enters the recycling stream. In the face of such stark realities, it’s easy to get discouraged.

Yet, we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. While plastics pose enormous challenges, recycling remains critically crucial for other materials.

Metals, glass, paper, and cardboard that are recycled properly keep usable raw materials circulating and significantly reduce the greenhouse gases emitted through manufacturing new goods.

We must renew our commitment to properly handling these recyclables, as roughly half of the aluminum we use in the US goes to landfills.

For example, recycled cans require 95% less energy than new ones. Since aluminum can be recycled indefinitely without losing quality, this gives us an added advantage for endless recycling. Where we fail is actually getting these easily recyclable goods into the recycling bin.

Consider composting 

According to the EPA, organic waste, like compostable food and yard scraps, makes up 25% of landfill content. While residential composting used to be messy and require niche knowledge, it has become more straightforward and accessible.

More cities now offer municipal pickup for commercial composting, allowing people to divert a wider variety of organic waste easily. For those without municipal compost pickup, compact appliances enable easy in-home composting.

Eco-Friendly Ways to Dispose of Junk Junk Removal Near Me

(Image source: epa.org)

Either route significantly reduces landfill contributions and provides free, nutrient-rich fertilizer.

Composting also leads to lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to landfilling organic matter. Beyond household food/yard waste, construction crews should compost wood debris from construction projects rather than trash it.

Composting offers environmental benefits over landfilling, and innovations have made the process simple. With minimal time and effort, anyone can keep organic waste out of landfills and harness its value through composting.

Use of different hazardous waste disposal

To avoid environmental contamination, we must take care to dispose of the many hazardous materials that enter our homes separately.

These include paint, cleaning agents, motor oil, batteries, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides. Pouring liquid hazardous waste down drains or tossing it in regular trash spreads toxins.

Instead, we should utilize special facilities in our community for electronic waste and household waste recycling.

Some municipalities offer hazardous waste collection days. Retailers often collect old batteries, fluorescent bulbs, etc. We can also seek out recyclers of items like used motor oil.

Handing off unwanted items containing hazardous materials to proper disposal through these eco-friendly ways keeps them out of landfills and incinerators.

This prevents pollution and converts waste into new commercial products or waste into energy. With some research and planning, we can all manage hazardous waste responsibly.

Turn it into energy

Waste-to-energy plants provide a sustainable solution for dealing with non-recyclable waste that would otherwise end up in landfills.

These specialized facilities burn landfill waste that can’t be recycled, composted, or processed via anaerobic digestion, such as non-recyclable plastics and paper products.

The burning of trash generates electricity and heat energy that can power homes and businesses.

This technology is used heavily in Japan and Europe. Sweden, for example, gets 52% of waste energy from incineration. In the US, 64 plants burn 11.8% of municipal solid waste.

More cities are considering this option to handle waste while producing renewable energy. Of course, burning trash in the backyard is dangerous and ineffective.

However, proper waste-to-energy facilities can safely convert unusable types of waste into a valuable community resource

Recycling E-Waste

Electronic waste (e-waste) has become a major global issue, with 45 million tons generated in 2016 alone, according to a UN report.

Only 20% of this e-waste was recycled, representing lost raw materials worth billions of dollars, including $9 billion worth of smartphones.

E-waste contains valuable but hazardous materials like lead, mercury, and other toxic heavy metals that can contaminate soil and water when not properly disposed of.

Long-term exposure to these heavy metals can have severe health impacts like cancer, nervous system damage, and circulatory problems in humans and animals.

With increasing waste generation rates, e-waste management through recycling is crucial. We must avoid throwing devices like phones, batteries, and electronics in the trash, where they become part of the general waste stream.

Using professional junk removal services ensures e-waste gets recycled safely instead of dumped irresponsibly.

Handling end-of-life electronics sustainably reduces pollution from types of waste and moves us toward a circular economy. We all have a role to play in solving the e-waste crisis through responsible disposal and advocacy.

What are the benefits of recycling?

Recycling is such is such a small, effortless habit, but it can make a huge collective impact. At first glance, tossing a bottle or scrap of paper into a particular bin doesn’t seem like much. But when zillions of people recycle regularly, the environmental effect really accumulates.

It is a total win-win – it cuts waste and conserves precious natural resources. Every ton of recycled paper saves around 17 trees, for instance.

Eco-Friendly Ways to Dispose of Junk Junk Removal Near Me

(Image source: epa.org)

And producing goods from recycled stuff rather than raw materials uses way less energy – about 20% less typically.

So, recycling paper and cardboard results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and manufacturing.

Diverting recyclables also keeps trash out of landfills, which spew methane and nasty gases as garbage decomposes.

Landfills are the third biggest source of greenhouse gases in the U.S. The EPA says they produce 42% of methane emissions. The less junk dumped there, the better.

What items are recyclable?

  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Televisions and Monitors
  • Mattresses
  • Hot Tubs
  • Refrigerators

What items are not recyclable?

  • Garden hoses
  • Certain plastics and glass
  • Batteries
  • Light bulbs
  • Food or food-soiled paper
  • Propane tanks or cylinders
  • Sewing needles
  • Bowling balls
  • Aerosol cans

Don’t forget, when it comes to waste, everyone has a path to play

As your local waste management experts at JunkGator, we’re here to help you navigate the best eco-friendly practices for your household. We know going green can feel overwhelming sometimes. Don’t sweat it!

Book a free 20-minute session with us, and we’ll walk through your specific needs and questions. We’ll offer tailored tips on streamlining sorting and disposal based on your household.

Our team is passionate about helping families cut down on trash and make sustainable living totally doable. We love equipping our neighbors with the knowledge they need to make small, impactful changes.

Adam

Adam

My role is to fact check original and engaging content published on the JunkGator website. I like to consider myself somewhat of an expert on eco-friendly waste management.