Americans can generate up to 390 million tons of trash every year, that is 4.5 pounds of trash per person generated every day. Most of this trash is unnecessary waste that can be recycled or even composted.
Waste is a huge issue on a global scale. Thankfully some communities are looking to the future and are lowering their environmental impact. In an effort to divert 95% of waste from landfills over the next 17 years, the city of Santa Monica is one of 30 cities working to implement a Zero Waste Strategic Operations Plan.
The Zero Waste Plan according to the Santa Monica website is a Strategic Planning process to identify the new policies, programs and infrastructure that will enable the City to reach its Zero Waste goal of 95% diversion by 2030, or a per capita disposal rate of 1.1 pounds per person per day.
This zero waste plan persuades residents to sort their waste rather than just throwing away items that could be reused or recycled. Compostable items, such as lawn clippings and food, plastic bottles and cardboard boxes are just a few examples.
Along with implementing the recycling of materials, Santa Monica is testing a new program called Santa Monica Food + Green Composting Program. If the program is a success the amount of items that could be recycled may lead to trash pickups twice a week.
Santa Monica’s website smgov.net, has information on the green composting program. A program that use's green carts that will accept all food and yard debris but strictly prohibits any type of plastic materials, glass or metal. Composting will deflect a considerable amount of municipal solid waste from the nation's landfills.
In 2010, over half of all municipal waste was comprised of compostable materials. Yard waste such as leaves, grass clippings, brush, and pruning's, along with food scraps are organic material that are 100% compostable. This is over 50 percent of what we throw away. You can largely reduce your environmental impact just by sorting your waste.
If you are interested in taking the next step towards a green lifestyle, backyard composting is a great way to keep your waste down to a minimum. Visit the Santa Monica website at www.smgov.net for more information on how to obtain a backyard SoilSaver Composter. Worms are also available if you are interested in vermicomposting (composting with worms).
The Zero Waste Strategic Operations Plan is a great start to global environmental responsibility. If all cities took initiative we could start a global trend. Throw away trash is the way of the past, reusable resource trash is the way of the future.
Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling,and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2011
Santa Monica Public works Resource Recovery & Recycling Division
United States Environmental Protection Agency Composting At Home
City Council Meeting: March 19, 2013 Agenda Item: 4-A: To: Mayor and City Council Martin Pastucha, Director of Public Works Zero Waste Strategic Operations Plan