When was the last time you really considered what goes into your trash can (and thus into Bay Area landfills)? Unless you’re the world’s most conscientious recycler and composter, your trash cans are likely filled with typical household trash such as food scraps, paper plates, cardboard boxes and packaging, used facial tissue, plastics, and used disposable diapers. That’s assuming that you already recycle cans, newspapers, and plastic milk jugs.

According to The Green Gate, a project of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Bay Area has the second highest per-person garbage production rate in the state. In 1999, Bay Area residents generated almost two pounds of trash per day; Bay Area employees generated nearly eight pounds per day. In 2013, with a pulation of about 7.11 million just in the Bay Area, the amount of trash that are acculumated per day is astronomical. What are we throwing away?

Paper – and lots of it. According to ThePaperLifeCycle.org, paper accounts for 250 million tons, or 31 percent, (before recycling) of total municipal solid waste in the United States. Of this massive amount, 20 percent is unrecoverable tissue products and retained documents and another 28 percent is potentially recoverable. Of those amount of papers that are potentially recoverable, 39 percent are exported to overseas markets, about 55 percent remain in the U.S. and are recycled into either paper products or non-paper products and the rest are landfilled away.

Bay area landfills also contain construction waste, lawn clippings, disposable diapers, junk, old furniture, appliances, e-waste, office furniture, clothing, plastic shopping bags, plastic water bottles – you name it, it’s in the landfill. What are others ways to dispose waste without hauling it to the landfills?

If you’re concerned about the amount of trash you generate and the Bay Area landfills in general, you can make smarter choices. For starters, consider ditching the bottled water habit in favor of a reusable water bottle. It’s a small step that could make a dent (as well as save you money and reduce your exposure to BPA). Next, reduce the amount of paper you use and generate, both at home and at work. Secure cloud storage systems and PDF readers make printing hard copies unnecessary if not obsolete. Another smart choice is to use a junk removal company that prioritizes recycling such as FastHaul (Source: Junk Removal by FastHaul). While you can’t control what others put in the landfill, you can control your own trash.

Ethan Malone, the author of this article, is a strong advocate of keeping the environment green, clean and sustainable. You can find more about him and his writings on Google+.

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