Landfill with seagulls flying above itEveryone has to deal with waste both at home and in the workplace.

Many cities across the country are struggling to deal with the amount of waste being produced by an increasing population. The following tips will help to reduce the amount of waste that is sent to scrapyards and landfills, and encourage responsible disposal of hazardous materials.

Recycle and Reuse

Unwanted items can be sorted as recyclable, reusable or waste. Every effort should be made to place most items in the first two categories. This results in a substantial decrease in material headed to landfills, which is an important consideration in a very crowded world.

Reusable Items

Many items can be repurposed to remain useful. Plastic jugs, jars and other containers offer storage for small parts, buttons and dry foods like pasta and beans. Worn clothing can be cut up and turned into rags, which are easily stored in plastic bags. Some scraps may also be incorporated into homemade quilts where they will be useful for years to come.

Recyclable Items
Plastic bottles, aluminum cans and newspapers are common household items that can be recycled. In many cases, these are sorted into bins and picked up by a city recycling service. If curbside recycling is not available, the items can be dropped off at a collection station.

Hazardous Waste
Anything that is considered hazardous should not simply be thrown away. Doing so could present danger to humans, wildlife, pets and the environment. Proper disposal instructions should always be followed. Anyone found disposing of hazardous waste improperly can be subject to legal penalties.

Most people just toss batteries into the trash when they are no longer useful. While this can be done with common alkaline batteries if there are no alternatives, car batteries should always be taken to an auto parts store where they can be disposed of in the right manner. Batteries should never be set on fire as this will release lithium, acid and lead, which are poisonous.

Used Motor Oil
Many people change the oil on their vehicles at home and pour the old oil into the ground or down a drain. This should never be done because 250,000 gallons of groundwater can be contaminated by a single quart of oil. Any auto parts store will gladly accept used oil for disposal.

Expired Medications
When cleaning out the medicine chest, expired medications should be discarded by flushing them down the toilet. Medicines that are thrown into the garbage could possibly be ingested by animals or children, causing health problems.

Yard and Kitchen Waste
Yard prunings and clippings, along with coffee grounds, tea bags and food scraps, make wonderful compost for the garden. Branches and saplings can be chipped into decorative mulch that is full of nutrients. Recycling this material also keeps it out of the landfills where it takes up a great deal of space.

Pet and Human Waste
All waste from animals and humans should be flushed down the toilet into a septic or sewer system, which will properly biodegrade the material. When this sort of waste is placed in the garbage, it can cause disease to spread as well as draw rodents and other problematic pests into the area.

Burning Garbage
A few decades ago, burning trash, leaves and cardboard was a common practice in many communities. While this is now banned in the majority of the country, it is still allowed in a few locales. Under no circumstances should tires, batteries, plastics or other other unsafe materials be burned. All of these items will release hazardous materials when they become too hot, and the smell is very offensive.

Waste is a daily fact of life for all people. Following the tips above will help to keep the planet healthy and sustainable for the future generations to come.