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Waste
Styrofoam Is Forever

For all the recycling programs around these days, 169 million tons of trash still ended up in incinerators or landfills nationwide in 2006. (The average American throws out nearly five pounds of garbage a day, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.) These mountains of waste are not just yesterday’s leftovers; they’re also recyclables, like glass bottles and aluminum cans, that shouldn’t be dumped in the first place. Recycling can be limited or confusing, and trash often goes into designated recycling bins, sometimes contaminating the contents and making recycling impossible. The garbage is usually shipped to landfills that lack the sun, oxygen, and microbes needed to break it down. Much of it will be around long after we’re not, and some materials are here to stay as long as the earth does, because they don’t biodegrade completely. So the next time you toss any of your trash, consider, instead, a reusable or biodegradable option, recycling, or composting.—Susan Cosier

Source: National Park Service

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