I'll just throw that away.  How many times have you said that, not really thinking about where away is?  Does your thought of away end when you close the garbage can?  Maybe your away is at the curb, where you leave your garbage for the nice garbage men to come take it away?  Is the landfill away?  Is the incinerator away?  Granted, some of you may not care where away is.  It's someone else's problem to deal with, right?  Turns out, it's not
This question has been plaguing me since I stumbled on the Zero Waste Home.  So I started doing a bit of research into the mystical, magical, land of "Away".  The easy answer is that there is no "Away".  Everything goes Somewhere.  And Someone has to deal with it.  In our neck of Pennsyltucky, we're serviced by York Waste/Republic Services, so I contacted them to get an answer about where their "Away" is.  Apparently their customer service is located in "Away" because I've not heard back yet.
But here is what I did find out: the average person creates 4.4lbs of garbage a day, or 1,600lbs/year.  It gets compacted down into about 2 cubic yards and dumped in a landfill.  For those of you wondering how much space that uses, it's just bigger than the average refrigerator size.  In just a few years time, a family of 4 will throw away the entire volume of a house.  And it's not as though any of that garbage is going to "Away".  It will stay in the landfill, not really decomposing, for your entire lifetime and that of your grandchildren's grandchildren and beyond.
Now that we've mentioned regular garbage, what about electronics?  Where does your ewaste go?  Some of it goes to places like this.  Locally, we have a company that does have a DEP permit, just not an EPA one.  They won't tell you where any of the e-waste goes (other than it's exported to Away), nor do they audit any of their downstream recyclers, but they will offer evidence of due diligence that things are disposed of an in environmentally friendly way.  So, the bottom line is, no one really knows where it goes.  But, they are duly diligent in their hope for the best.
All this week I'm going to take a good hard look at my own garbage and habits of throwing things "away'.  I'll let you see what happens as our family of consumers goes through an average week and what we recycle and throw away, how we shop, eat, and if I get any answers back from the companies I've sent emails to, I'll be posting them as well.

In the mean time, what do you do to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle before throwing things "Away"?

Found a local company that does do eco-friendly recycling!
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1 Response
  1. Very interesting. We're down to two bags a week here, and that's with using paper plates on days when it's my turn to cook...erm, burn dinner.

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