Let's Talk Trash

Let's talk about how much trash we "throw away" and how long our landfills are going to last!

The average landfill life expectancy is 30 - 50 years, then a new one is created or the existing one needs to be expanded. Remember, when we throw something “away” it has to go somewhere, hopefully our landfills and not our streets and rivers.

The U.S. generates 258 million tons of municipal solid waste EACH YEAR, California alone generates 40 million tons of trash each year based on 2021 stats. According to Cal Recycle, California’s yearly trash is 45 times as heavy as the Golden Gate Bridge, we used 2.45 million trees worth of white office paper and wasted 7.27 billion meals worth of food waste.

Let’s let that sink in for a moment. Are you wondering how much you produce? We are all at different points in our low waste journey. Yours may be much less than your neighbor’s or maybe it is more? Either way, we all need to do more for the planet by buying and tossing less and opting for longer lasting products.

Per Cal Recycle’s website, packaging is 27% of the waste stream and plastic is 14% of the waste stream. Can we reduce both of these? YES!

Remember, the waste stream includes recycling. The more we can reuse, the less we need to recycle and use more energy and resources. The less we can consume, the less we need to put into the various waste streams.

“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, resold, recycled, or composted, then is should be restricted, redesigned, or removed from production.” – Pete Seeger

Use what you already have. Before ‘adding to cart’, look around and see if you have something you can repurpose first. Use up what you already have before going and buying something new, even if it is a low waste swap. We still have a plastic travel soap container that we still use because it works and will last forever. Instead of buying the awesome bamboo containers for our hair care bars on travel, we wrap them in washcloths to keep them dry. We take our cutlery with us from the kitchen drawer instead of buying any of the adorable sets that will also last us forever. You get the picture.

Reducing waste doesn’t need to be expensive nor time consuming. If we all do just a few things and consciously make decisions when purchasing, we can drastically reduce the 40 million tons of trash us Californians produce.

So where does all of this waste go? Some gets recovered to be recycled or composted and the rest ends up in our landfills. In Sonoma County, our Central Disposal site has approximately 15-19 years left. This is also a critical resource after natural disasters. In 2017, we sent so much waste from the wildfire destruction to the Central Landfill and to the Redwood Landfill it cut years off of their life expectancy.

The Redwood Landfill, where Petaluma’s waste ends up, has about 10 years of life expectancy remaining if we continue with the average amounts we are sending now. That’s it. 10 years of being able to “throw away” our trash without it being expanded or hauled further and further away. Sonoma County, we only have 15-19 years of this convenience. And it is a convenience. We need to reduce our waste sooner than later.

What can you and I do? Reuse everything we can! Reduce our consumption! By doing this, it can save you money, it can keep waste from taking over our beautiful rolling hills, it can keep our air clean, it can save the planet.

We exist because you want to reduce your waste and do better. Thank you for being a part of the solution with us!! Together, we can reuse as much as possible and reduce packaging consumption and single-use containers!

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