October 25, 2010
Michigan is truly a unique and wonderful state, and we are fortunate to live in such a beautiful area. We have rolling hills, green pastures, forests as far as the eye can see, and surrounded by the Great Lakes; which happen to be the largest freshwater system in the WORLD and accounts for more than 20% of the worlds surface freshwater.
Of course, we should understand that we are the caretakers of our land and what we do today will leave a trail for tomorrow.
DID you know? That according the EPA, Americans produce nearly 5 lbs of trash on a DAILY basis? When was the last time you thought about where your trash goes? In 1996, 42 million cubic yards of solid waste went into Michigan landfills. To help you picture this, the volume of 2 washing machines is just over a cubic yard; try to imagine a pile of 84 million washing machines.
In 2019, 43 million cubic yards went to Michigan landfills. The amount of stuff that we bury in our backyard continues to grow every year. Here is a link to the EGLE Website: Map of Landfills in Michigan
Landfills have a life expectancy and once they fill up, the site is closed. Experts are still finding ways to repurpose the sites of closed landfills; by creating parks, or new energy sites, or wildlife habitats. There are a lot of factors that go along with landfills. If you are interested in finding more out, I encourage you to visit the EGLE website.
Lenawee County Fact: There are NO open landfills or transfer stations located in Lenawee County; the landfill located just outside of Adrian has been closed for more than a decade. It is not at full capacity and is a privately owned facility. But just because we ship it out doesn't mean that it is no longer our problem, it just means that we haven't figured out what to do with it.
Here is an illustration depicting the trash cycle in an ideal situation; where we throw our unwanted items in a bin and the waste hauler sorts it and distributes it to the recycling center, landfill, energy plant, or composting site.
I am NOT AWARE of any local hauler that sorts through our solid waste for recycling materials. They may pull some obvious items out, but if it's not identified or separated out, it probably ends up in the landfill. Ask your waste hauler on how they handle recycling materials.
What can you do to help?
REDUCE - Think before you buy.
- Look for earth friendly (like biodegradable, or less, packaging)
- Consider alternative items
- Think about what you will do with the item when you are done with it
REUSE – Before you throw it out
- Consider re-using that bubble wrap to send mail something out or can you use those baby food jars in an art project?
- SELL IT! You would be surprised at how many people are buying stuff.
- DONATE IT - 2nd hand stores love clean, reusable items
RECYCLE – throw as little as possible out with the trash
- RECYCLE - daily household trash, plastics, tin, glass, cardboard, & paper
- Recycle Right – make sure you aren’t contaminating the load by “recycling” unacceptable materials
- RECYCLE larger items at Goodwill & Neighbors of Hope. Both places recycle items like cloth materials (that stained shirt), electronics, small metals items, and cardboard. They will bundle and sell these items to help support their organizations.
- COMPOST IT - food gradually breaks down to form methane, a greenhouse gas that’s up to 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Don’t put food or yard clippings in with your trash; compost it. The City of Adrian has opened their collection site for all county residents for yard clippings.
Where to Recycle:
If you are one of those lucky residents that have curbside recycling USE IT!!
The County Drop Off Site is open to all county residents and clean and dry plastics #1-7, Glass bottles & jars, tin cans and aluminum, as well as paper & cardboard materials.
Check with your waste hauler for recycling service options.
Another great recycling opportunity is Recycle Ann Arbor https://www.recycleannarbor.org/ They accept a lot of items including water-based paints, lightbulbs, etc. I think this place is really neat.
Recycling is just a small part of protecting our environment, but as they say; the little things add up.
Lend a hand where you can and lead by example