Teaching kids about garbage and recycling is the first step toward teaching them responsibility toward their environment. And there's no better way to do that than by introducing a few fun and unexpected facts about the world we live in -- and what we throw away at the end of the day.
What's In the Garbage?
According to an Idaho Public Television website, only 7.5 percent of your trash comes from the kitchen. The majority of the stuff that goes into the garbage is in the form of paper -- an impressive 40 percent of what's in landfills is paper. Yard waste, which includes leaves and branches, constitutes more than 17 percent. Metals, plastic and glass all make up 10 percent of the total garbage amount, which is still a lot, because most of those items could probably be recycled.
Not Everybody is Green
Although recycling is an effective way to prevent garbage from going into the trash -- and a good way to help protect the Earth -- not everybody recycles. In fact, only about half the amount of paper and metal people use in the United States ends up being recycled. The numbers are much lower for plastic and glass. This is bad for many reasons. Recycling helps save energy and produces less pollution than making new products.
People Make a Lot of Garbage
If you get in a spaceship and travel into space, you'll be able to see only two things from up there: the Great Wall of China and a landfill in Staten Island, New York. The landfill, called Fresh Kills, closed in 2001, but it's still one of the biggest in the world. Workers are still trying to clean up the area, deal with water pollution and find a solution for all the garbage accumulated there.
Garbage is Around for a Long Time
Anything you throw away doesn't just disappear. In fact, it stays around for a long time. A glass bottle will survive for almost 1 million years, while a plastic bottle will last 450 years, according to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. Other objects that will stay around in a landfill for 50 years or more include foam plastic cups, tin cans and disposable diapers.
- NH Department of Environmental Services: Time it Takes for Garbage to Decompose in the Environment
- WNYC News Blog: Ten Years After Closure, Fresh Kills Is Still a Landfill in Transition
- Just Live Greener: Scary Facts About Landfills
- Library Thinkquest: What's Up With Trash?
- Idaho Public Television: Facts About Garbage
- Sean Murphy/Lifesize/Getty Images