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Guest Commentary

Scheck: The secret life of trash – part II


In part one we discussed what a landfill is and what really happens to the trash. In part two I would like to discuss how we can begin to make the necessary changes that will limit what we put in landfills and be better stewards right here in Scottsdale.

Single use plastics and Styrofoam are major contributors to landfills. As we read in part one, plastic bottles can take up to 450 years to decompose, plastic bags 20 years, and Styrofoam will never fully decompose. These materials just sit in the ground causing contamination to the soil, drinking water, animal life, and plant life.

How many plastic bags are thrown away by Americans annually? Well, the number is probably way more than you are thinking. The number is 100 billion.

You read that correct. That equals to dumping 12 million barrels of crude oil. A report back in 2018 said that worldwide less than 10% of plastic waste is recycled. So how much of the plastic bags that have been sent to the Salt River Landfill are just sitting there? How many plastic bags are thrown away each year in Scottsdale? 50 million? More?

So, what can we do? Unfortunately for us, there is a law in Arizona that bans cities from banning single use plastics and containers. Senate Bill 1241 was signed by our previous governor and this law prevents from even discuss removing single plastics containers. We need to reverse Senate Bill 1241 and let the citizens of Scottsdale vote to decide what they want to do.

We all need to call our representatives and demand that they remove the law and allow the city of Scottsdale to decide what we want for our city. I know. I know. That will take time and I am sure that we have our own theories on politics right now. That is another article for another time.

You might be asking, Andrew what can we do now while we try to change the law? I have a few easy solutions. Start shopping with reusable shopping bags. When you go food shopping, or when you are running to the store for other items bring your reusable bag. Go on Amazon right now. They have quite a collection. Even fashionable ones. It is easy and so simple.

Instead of plastic cups try buying recycled compostable cups. Same thing for plastic plates and plastic utensils. There are green companies out there making everyday products that are not harmful to the environment. How about plastic straws? We use 500 million plastic straws per day. That’s right everyday in this country we throw away over 500 million plastic straws. How simple it would be if we just switched to paper straws.

It’s not hard to begin making better choices in your everyday life that will help the planet. Our local landfill only has a little over 10 years left until it is out of capacity. What then? Do we just dig another hole somewhere and fill it up and cover it? Out of site out of mind, once again, or do we finally acknowledge the incredible damage we have done and continue to do.

We must begin to make the necessary and simple changes to begin the healing process. Remember, green is good!