Shed the weight in 2012

Written by Donna Stuckert. Posted in Community News

Published on January 05, 2012 with No Comments

While most people resolve to focus on the size of their waist in the New Year, there’s another waste that deserves our attention.

According to statistics from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported in the December “Waste and Recycling News,” each person in the United States generated an average of 4.34 pounds of waste each day in 2009, much more waste than each person generated on average in 1960, which was 2.68 pounds. 

The good news is that the statistics show that on average, each one of us is recovering more materials through recycling and composting, thereby sending less waste to landfills than the average person did during the last 50 years.

Of the 4.34 pounds we recycled 1.09 pound. and composted .37 pounds, recovering a 1.46-pound total.  On top of that, an average of .52 pounds was incinerated and used to provide heat and electricity through some type of waste-to-energy process. Therefore, an average of 2.36 pounds of waste, per person, per day, was landfilled in 2009. In 1960, an average of .17 pounds of waste per person was recovered through recycling, and no statistics are available to determine the weight recovered through composting and combustion with energy recovery. Therefore a total of 2.51 pounds of waste per person, per day, was landfilled. While progress has been made, how do we work on reducing those 2.36 pounds of waste we are each sending daily to landfills? The New Year provides an opportunity to resolve to “rethink” habits and take action that will result in positive changes for the environment:

1. Reduce. The best way to reduce waste is not to have it in the first place. For example:

• Is your trash filled with disposable coffee cups and containers? Reduce the amount of coffee cups in your trash by brewing your own coffee instead of stopping at the coffee shop and transporting it in a reusable travel mug! Reduce containers by dining in your favorite restaurants instead of ordering delivery or take out.

• Does your family consume a lot of paper napkins and paper towels? Reduce your consumption of these products by using cloth napkins and towels instead; wash and reuse. Make cleaning cloths out of old t-shirts and clothes, another great way to reuse.

• Reduce your consumption of disposable diapers and use cloth diapers instead. If you’d rather not have extra laundry, hire a service that will keep your baby in clean, cloth diapers.

2.Reuse. Are you throwing away items that can have a second life? Due to the poor economy, there are many people in need who could use your unwanted clothes, household items and working electronics, like stereos and televisions. Select a charity and make a donation of your unwanted items to enrich the lives of people who are less fortunate.

3.Recycle. Take a good look at your garbage. Are you recycling absolutely everything you can? Whether you live in Lake, LaPorte, or Porter County, your solid waste district can help you recycle. Familiarize yourself with the free waste reduction services and resources that your district provides, like drop-off recycling sites, collection events, compost sites, education and information on recycling options. 

Lake County: 219-769-3820,,, LaPorte County: 219-326-5310,,, Porter County: 219-465-3694,,

Remember to Rethink, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in 2012, and resolve to drive down the average number of pounds of waste you landfill each week.

Share with us your green New Year’s resolutions by completing our quick online survey, online at

Have a happy and healthy New Year!

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About Donna Stuckert

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Donna Stuckert is the Community Education Coordinator for the Recycling & Waste Reduction District of Porter County. She is a communications professional with more than 20 years of experience who enjoys working for the greater good and inspiring others on making a difference. For more information or to reach Stuckert, e-mail

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