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The Truth About Your Trash: Why It's Good to Reduce and Reuse

While many people believe our trash goes to landfill, the reality is that 100% of Millburn Township’s trash, as well as 70% of the entire state’s trash, is incinerated.

While many people believe our trash goes to landfill, the reality is that 100 percent of Millburn Township’s trash, as well as 70 percent of the entire state’s trash, is incinerated. In fact, the burning of Millburn’s trash takes place in Newark, approximately 10 miles from where you live and breathe.

The point of this article is not to encourage our township to seek another method of disposal; there really are no other viable options. Landfills are not available because almost all of the local landfills are full and closed, with no new ones opening. No wonder- who wants one in their backyard? Besides, landfills are not exactly environmentally friendly either.

The point, fellow citizens of the Earth, is to compel you to make less trash. How? Use less stuff. How? Reduce, reuse and recycle, in that order of preference.

Some tips: Buy only what you need, and use what you buy. Choose quality products that will last. When something breaks, consider repairing it rather than discarding it; what happens to the "old one" (burned) should factor into your decision of whether to repair or replace.

Weigh your desire for convenience versus the environmental impact. For example, disposable water bottles are convenient but are a travesty for the environment. Invest in quality reusable water bottles and coffee mugs and remember to use them everywhere. Bring your own reusable bags wherever and whenever you shop, not just the supermarket. There is really no excuse to not do this, but most people can’t be bothered.  Shameful.

If you are contemplating disposal of an item that has value but no use for you, donate it to someone who can use it.  Try websites such as freecycle.org or millburn-online.com.

Recycling is important but is not a panacea. The good news is that our township still recycles most recyclable items (as long as they are not mixed with non-recyclables). However, much of the processing is done in China, and in addition to the transportation, some recycling processes (i.e. plastics) are very energy-intensive. Recycling is certainly better than throwing a recyclable item into the trash, but it is much more effective to reduce and reuse.

Arlene February 24, 2011 at 04:24 AM
Great article! Although it didn't mention composting, which also reduces the amount of waste going to the landfill . . .
Andrew Chalnick March 06, 2011 at 10:48 PM
David - great article. We've become such a disposable society. Hope more folks follow your sound advice.

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