Items You Use Everyday That Take Longest To Decompose
With how the Earth’s environment is changing so much in a short time, it is important that we do our part and lessen the impact we have. Numerous developed countries have employed the use of recycling programs that help re-supply industries that produce these materials.
Even after recycling for as many as two decades, we still have the Great Pacific garbage patch. This massive island made of trash is the result of simply tossing these things into our trash cans. Here is a list of items in that patch that take so long to decompose:
1. Plastic Bags
Being a resident of the Golden State myself, I have already seen changes regarding plastic bags. Many cities have enacted ordinances that require stores to sell only reusable shopping bags and nothing else.
That being said, many places in Southern California still use plastic bags. Plenty of places recycle both plastic and reusable bags, so long as customers bring them back to the store.
It takes anywhere between 10 to 1000 years for a plastic bag to decompose, sitting in other trash.
2. Plastic Bottles
Plastic bottles are used almost everywhere. Whether you’re buying soda, some Mescal tequila, or regular ole’ water, you see these liquids stored in plastic bottles of various sizes.
How long do these things take to waste away? A single one can take as much as 450 years to decompose and disappear. Some environmental groups suggest getting reusable bottles and instantly throwing the plastic into a recycling bin.
3. Aluminum Cans
When it comes to recycling in the United States, this seems to be the most popular material refined over and over again. Enough aluminum is recycled in a single year to rebuild more than 7,000 commercial aircrafts.
Even with so many people recycling it, just as much of it gets thrown in the trash. And for aluminum to decompose? It takes anywhere from 80 to 200 years for aluminum to decompose.
4. Paper Waste
Any landfill worker can tell you this is what they see most of in the mountains of trash. But so much of it can be recycled. If more people focused on throwing less paper away, it would have a substantial impact on all of our waste output.
Sure the decomposition rate is only 2 to 6 weeks, but does that even matter when there’s just more to take its place?
For so many years during the 90s, places sold their hot drink in foam cups. Although they are seen with far less frequency today, there are still many places selling their products in these containers.
Remember the last time you bought a television or game console? How many pieces of foam were in the box? Quite a few, based on personal experience. Just a single foam cup can take 50 years to decompose on its own.
6. Rubber Boot Soles
The footwear industry has been slower than most in using sustainable materials in their products. While few brands have incorporated the use of eco-friendly materials, the use of rubber soles on sneakers and boots is still widespread.
The shoes and boots we toss always go to a landfill, like the rest of our garbage. And in that environment, it takes a pair of rubber boot soles as anywhere in the range of 50 to 80 years to decompose.
7. Milk Cartons
These buggers are made of a multitude of materials. First, paperboard and a small bit of polyethylene plastic and some shelf-stable friendly aluminum. Combined, these materials pose a threat to the environment and can take up to 5 years to decompose.
8. Nylon Fabric
Nylon is a widely used material in crafting products and sports-related items such as jerseys and other sportswear. The material can take anywhere from 30 to 40 years to fully decompose.
Anyone with a wireless device of some sort is familiar with needing a battery. From our flashlights to our phones, they all possess a battery of varying size. Whether you’re tossing out AAAs from your Roku remote or removing D cells from your stereo, they can take a full century to decompose.
This is perhaps the most dangerous material on the list, for the simple fact it does not decompose. There is no way to recycle this material and it releases harmful gases when exposed to heat. It’s base in a petroleum-based plastic known as polystyrene.