Many environmental groups encourage recycling, and in the past three decades, the movement toward sustainable manufacturing has gained purchase. Although very few companies are certified nationally, meaning that they send no industrial waste to landfills, more business owners and property management teams are looking for ways to minimize waste and to attract customers who share their organizations’ values.
Trash clean up remains a strong focus for local and state governments, and their efforts include street sweeper trucks, road clean up crews, and public education about landfills. Although concerted recycling efforts have reduced the tonnage of garbage in landfills around the world, breaking down existing garbage remains a challenge.
Surprisingly, a single glass bottle that is deposited into a landfill will not decompose for 40,000 generations. One million years from now, glass will begin to decompose, and although there is widespread public concern about styrofoam cups and plastic bags, they will be gone in under 1,000 years. The average American produces over four pounds of trash every day, and much of the garbage generated is still paper waste, despite the advent of the internet.
Trash clean up crews have made headway in state and local parks, and road sweeping services help keep urban areas free of debris. When recycling is removed from the trash, tons of garbage still makes its way to local landfills. Aluminum cans can be recycled into window frames, bicycle parts, and new aluminum cans; plastic bottles can also be made into new bottles, recycling bins, or even clothing fabric.
Recent research indicates a possible solution for unsightly and potentially hazardous landfills: some varieties of mushrooms that are sold in supermarkets are capable of breaking materials that are commonly consigned to the trash. Mushrooms can “digest” toxic chemicals, cellulose, and may offer a long-term solution to the landfill problem. From sweeper trucks to organized park and road clean up crews, Americans are continuing to work to find solutions to what has become a trash epidemic.