Stephen and I went to school this week to create some inter-generational change. We spoke to 30 odd year ones and twos. At first, I was terrified. Something about their age (being between 5 and 6), and their strength in numbers, rattled me. Children of that age tell you right away if they're dead bored of you. And, like a horse, they can smell your fear.
Despite these fear-exciting qualities, they were a bit cute; plus, their teacher was sitting behind them. So they had to be good.
Stephen created an excellent teaching plan and in the process taught me a thing or two. One of the activities included getting the students to guess how long it takes for an every day house hold item to break down in landfill.
So for a banana peel, it was between 3-4 weeks.
For a paper book, it's 3-4 months.
For tin cans it's 200 odd years.
For plastic bags, it's 1000 years.
For glass bottles, it's 1 million years.
Ok, fine, so according to this article, due to varying conditions within landfills, results can range ridiculously. So it depends.
But the take home message here is that we don't have enough space on earth to put our waste in big holes. This is not sustainable.
Think about it - plastic beverage holders (six pack rings) take 400 years to break down. It lives 4 times as long as you could, and we all will use countless six pack holders throughout our lives. Actually, if you drink too much beer, the six pack rings might live 5 times as long as you do.
This is a first, but I am cut and copying the following from Charissa Struble's article on Be Healthy Relax's webpage because of how striking the details are. This is how long it takes your junk to decompose.
Take a look.
- Train Tickets: 2 weeks
- Paper Towel: 2-4 weeks
- Orange Peel: 2-5 weeks
- Newspaper: 6 weeks
- Apple Core: 2 months
- Cotton Shirt: 2-5 months
- Cotton Gloves: 3 months
- Waxed Milk Cartons: 3 months
- Thread: 3-4 months
- Ropes: 3-14 months
- Canvas Products: 1 year
- Plywood: 1-3 years
- Wool Clothing: 1-5 years
- Non-Waxed Milk Cartons: 5 years
- Cigarette Butts: 10-12 years
- Lumber: 10-15 years
- Painted Board: 13 years
- Plastic Film Container: 20-30 years
- Leather Shoes: 25-40 years
- Nylon Fabric: 30-40 years
- Foamed Plastic Cups: 50 years
- Rubber Tires: 50-80 years
- Rubber Boot Soles: 50-80 years
- Foamed Plastic Buoys: 80 years
- Batteries: 100 years
- Hairspray Bottle: 200-500 years
- Plastic Beverage Holders (Six Pack Rings): 400 years
- Plastic Beverage Bottles: 450 years
- Engine Blocks: 500 years
- Sanitary Pads: 500-800 years
- Monofilament Fishing Line: 600 years
- Polyurethane Seat Cushions: 1,000 years
- Automobile Windshield: One million years or longer
- Tinfoil: It does not biodegrade.
Let's deny the concept of waste. Never waste an opportunity to recycle. I know: it can annoying and boring and you often don't have the time. But you have an app for that now, so it's easier.