Why burying and burning it are terrible ideas.
(Guest post by Brett Caron)
Your mouth twists right before you throw it in the trash can. Sweat beads on your forehead. Above the garbage, your hand trembles.
Can this be recycled? Can I just…drop this in the regular garbage? Should I be doing something with this? Should I pay someone to get rid of this? We ask ourselves more questions about our waste these days. This is a good thing – analyzing the problem means better ways to solve it. First and foremost is convenience. Being tougher on how we sort waste is important.
Repurpose, donate, recycle, dispose of your junk properly. Please don’t attempt the following:
Leave it in the alley
Ah, that takes you back to your childhood. Dropping things wherever you happen to be because you haven’t lived enough days to have any real concept of consequences or the future. Remember that? No, you don’t, because you were a good child. Please don’t do this.
Who can resist a bonfire, especially when the logs are the crap that used to be strewn around the basement? And don’t worry about that pesky carbon and cornucopia of other substances you’re releasing into the atmosphere. That’s what plants are for, right? (I’m kidding, of course)
Dump it on the street with a ‘free’ sign
Sounds good in principle. But for every family in need of another kitchen chair or replacement cables for their TV, there’s a thousand landlords rolling their eyes and having it removed themselves. Their costs go up, your costs go up, and everyone hates each other. It’s the circle of spite.
If you think your item can be donated, do it through the formal channels to ensure it goes to the right place (and doesn’t create an eyesore). Call up a local charity for pick-up, drop it off at a thrift store, or call 1-800-GOT-JUNK?.
When the alien archaeologists dig up 2015’s rock millions of years from now, you won’t have to worry about it. But if you bury your junk in the yard and then sell the house, the next inhabitants might feel a bit differently (not to mention if you buried liquids, it could leach into the soil).
As far as simplifying throwing stuff away, ignorance and denial of environmental impact certainly made people’s lives very comfortable over the past few decades. But now, in the age where we’re dealing with those problems we created, the standards are higher. Convenience unfortunately takes a backseat.
Industries willing to buy recycled materials want it quickly and cheaply. Processing raw materials is a lot easier when you don’t have to sift a bunch of other stuff out first because someone threw the coffee cup and the coffee cup lid in the same bin or a mattress in a landfill. And the more profitable recycling becomes, the more successful it becomes.
Brett Caron is a freelance writer and works with 1-800-GOT-JUNK? as an analyst. He enjoys craft beer and writing, and he can often be found engaged in both at the same time. Connect with Brett via Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.