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How Long Does It Take for These Items to Break Down in a Landfill?

Today’s landfills are jam-packed with tons of used items that people throw away willy-nilly. Unfortunately, many Minnesota residents do so without the knowledge that they’re harming the environment. The truth is that many of today’s most common household items are horrible for Mama Earth. That’s especially true when they sit in landfills, where things like plastics leach chemicals into our water and soil.

To make matters worse, today’s landfills are fuller than ever, causing many dangerous items to be buried and out of reach of the sun and rain, which help them decompose. When you learn how long some of these items take to break down, it can be downright alarming. Let’s look at how long it takes some of these materials to decompose and some greener alternatives for you to consider this year.

The Unwanted Clothes in Your Closet

It’s normal to want to throw away clothes that are ripped, stained, or worn out. But think twice before you throw clothes away that end up in a landfill. Depending on the type of material, clothes can take decades to decompose. For instance, a glove made out of cotton takes about three months to break down. But a rubber boot can take more than 80 years.

Certified Recycling’s Green Alternative: If your clothes are in relatively good condition, why not donate them to a thrift shop or charity? If that’s not feasible, some types of clothes can even be recycled at recycling centers like Certified Recycling.

Old Paper Documents in Your Office

In terms of decomposing in a landfill, paper and cardboard products are among the most eco-friendly, as they can break down in a few months.

Certified Recycling’s Green Alternative: Why toss old paper in the trash when you can just shred it up and use it for compost in your garden? Having fresh fruits and veggies is so much better than filling up a landfill. Don’t have a shredder? Drop off your old documents at Certified Recycling. We’ll handle the shredding for you.  

Glass Bottles and Knick-Knacks

Unlike some items on this list, glass never truly decomposes. It could be left to break down for a million years, and all it would do is break down into tiny granules of silicon dioxide. Thankfully, glass is an excellent material to recycle. When done properly, it can be reused almost endlessly.

Certified Recycling’s Green Alternative: Though many companies like Certified Recycling cannot accept general recyclables like glass bottles, it only takes two seconds to toss your glass item in the recycling bin in your home. Or bring them to one of these locations. Don’t throw away glass in the trash!

Outdated Electronics Collecting Dust

You know that five-pound laptop from the early 2000s that’s sitting in the corner of your office? Throwing it away in the trash means it’ll head to a landfill, where it could sit for centuries, slowly leaking chemicals into the ground. In fact, many types of electronics are designed so that they don’t decompose.

Certified Recycling’s Green Alternative: Many types of electronics – tablets, cell phones, laptops, CPU towers, etc. – can be recycled at centers like Certified Recycling. Plus, you can recycle items like cell phones and CPU batteries at our location for FREE!

The 70s-Style Fridge in Your Garage

You know that ugly old fridge that you keep around in your garage or backyard? If you ever get around to replacing it, know that you can’t just throw it away in a large trash dumpster. Like electronics, many appliances like freezers and microwaves contain materials that are harmful to the environment. These materials can take hundreds of years to break down in a landfill.

Certified Recycling’s Green Alternative: Come on down to our recycling center in Burnsville and drop off your appliances for recycling. If you can’t make it out to us, we’re happy to come to you. We’ll even take care of any coolant or hard-to-reach liquids in your appliances, so you don’t have to get your hands dirty!

Avoid the Landfill. Bring Your Items to Certified Recycling!

You may be tempted to justify tossing away trash that will be “gone” and decomposed in a few weeks or months. Truthfully, though, adding any item – even if it breaks down quickly – to a landfill comes with many hazardous repercussions. That’s why finding a green alternative like recycling is always best!So, instead of tossing that old, cracked tablet in the trash, give it to us. Why? Because we recycle 98.6% of everything that comes through our door. That’s only 1.4% away from perfection. But we’re not here to brag. We’re here to recycle.

Don’t forget to sign-up for our Earth Day Giveaway! Ending Friday, April 28th, 2023.

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