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Kids - Learn About Garbage

Wally Recycles!Garbage is something that everybody makes, but not many people think about. What happens to your garbage after you throw it away? Does everything we put in our garbage cans really need to be there, or can it be used again, or maybe even made into something new? How does garbage affect our health and environment?

We invite you to explore the exciting world of garbage! Learn how to make less garbage and have a positive impact on your world!

Learn More About:

What's in Our Garbage

Garbage compositionAll of the cans, bottles and paper we throw away can be recycled into new things. Wood, food & yard clippings can be composted. This turns them into a healthy soil that helps new plants grow. Look in your trash to see if you can find any of these things that can be recycled, composted or reused instead of thrown away forever in a landfill.

Plastic tubs

Food scraps


How to Reduce Garbage

The Three R's - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle - teach us how we can think about garbage in a new way and help the earth.

There is only so much tin, aluminum, plastic and other materials in the world that we can use to make things. If we all reduce, reuse and recycle, we can all help to conserve these resources.

This "R" means you stop waste before it starts! Bring a waste-free lunch by packing it in reusable or recyclable containers, such as a lunch box.

  • Compost food waste in a worm bin.
  • Avoid disposables. It's wasteful to only use something once and throw it away. Instead, use cloth diapers, cloth napkins, real towels and handkerchiefs; rechargeable batteries, reusable plates, glasses and cutlery silverware instead of one-time use products.

This "R" means you or someone else will use an item over and over instead of throwing it away or recycling it.

  • Use scrap paper for art projects.
  • Reuse paper bags, wrapping paper, or newsprint for book covers.
  • Hold a yard sale or donate clothing and toys when you don't want them anymore.
  • Set up a reuse box in the classroom for used pencils, pens, folders and other items that are still usable.
  • Use both sides of a sheet of paper before recycling it.

This "R" means that something old is remade into something new. For example, when you are done drinking a soda, the can goes to a factory where it is remade into an aluminum baseball bat. A plastic milk jug can becomes a fleece jacket.

For more about how to recycle at your house, click here.

Where to Put Your Garbage

Garbage CartsHow do I sort my garbage?

Items put into the recycling cart are turned into new products.

Anything put in the trash can gets buried in the landfill forever. Only put stuff in here if you can't put it in one of these other places:

Put leaves, grass, flowers and branches in the Yard Waste Cart. They will get "composted" into healthy soil to help new plants grow.

You can also put leaves, grass, flowers and some food scraps into a compost bin in your backyard. They will get "composted" into healthy soil to help new plants grow.

Worm Bin Worm Bin
Compost Bin Worm Bin
click images to zoom

Feed your food scraps to the worms and you can make nutritious compost for plants.

Donate things you don't need or want anymore so someone else can use them! You can reuse clothing, books, furniture.

Hazardous Waste you bring here is disposed of properly to save the environment and the water supply. Click here to learn about Hazardous Waste.

How Recycling Works

Recycle at Home-It's Easy!

All homes and some apartment buildings have recycling collection service. If you're not sure, ask your parents or your buidling manager. If you don't have a recycling program, ask how you can start one. So it's easy for you and your family to recycle the things listed below by placing them in your special recycling cart.

Recyclable Materials
Soda cans and bottles
Juice & milk bottles and cartons
Food cans, like for soups and beans
Comic books
Old homework
Cereal boxes
Cracker and cookie boxes
Shampoo bottles
Yogurt tubs
Earn Money by Recycling

Recycle and Make Some Money!

If your mom and dad will help you, you can earn a little extra money bytaking bottles and cans marked with "CRV" to a "buy-back center." Buy-back centers give you cash back for returning certain kinds of bottles and cans. Look for the CRV label on the bottle or can.

Hazardous Waste

Hazardous WasteMany of the products used around the home likepaint, cleaners, and pesticides are poisonous and should not be thrown in the trash ordumped down the drain. Even the dead batteries from toys, radios and cell phones cannot go in the trash. We call these kinds of things "Household Hazardous Waste."

If these things are put into the trash or dumped in the sink or toilet, they can cause pollution and harm fish, animals and people.

If you come across any bottle or can with the words "DANGER" "WARNING" OR "HARMFUL" or ones that show this symbol tell your parents that they cannot be thrown in the trash and should be taken to a special collection center.

Also, any old batteries, cell phones, computers, TVs, DVD players or other things that run on electricity should not be thrown in the trash. Ask your parents to take them to the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center.

Common Househol Hazardous Products

Bathroom Cleaners
Car/Household Batteries
Drain Cleaner
Dust Sprays
Furniture Polish
Glass Cleaner
Hair Spray
Laundry Bleach
Laundry Detergent
Model Paint
Motor Oil
Nail Polish
Paint Thinner
Pet Flea Collars
Room Deodorizer
Scouring Powder
Silver Polish
Slug Bait
Spot Removers
Toilet Bowl Cleaners
Upholstery Cleaners
Weed Killers

Federal law requires that any household product containing hazardous substances must be labeled accordingly. They are rated through a system of the following four words:

Indicates the highest hazard level of the group, and means that a product is highly toxic, and can cause injury or death if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed by the skin.

Means that a product is either highly toxic, flammable or corrosive.

Both indicate that a product is toxic, corrosive, reactive or flammable.

How Can I Create Less Hazardous Waste?
(Below are some tips to create less hazardous waste)

  1. One of the best ways to create less hazardous waste is to use safer alternatives.
  2. Buy the smallest amount you need for a specific job.
  3. Buy the product with the lowest level of warning on the label. Buy "caution" instead of "poison"
  4. Use up the hazardous products you have first before purchasing more. If you can't use it up give it to someone who will.
  5. If you must dispose of hazardous waste take it to the Household Hazardous Waste Facility on Johnson Canyon Rd. or Sun St. in Salinas.

What Makes a Household Product Hazardous?

Contains chemicals that are capable of causing injury or death if they are ingested through eating, drinking or breathing or being absorbed through the skin. Examples include insecticides, fertilizers and antifreeze.

Chemicals in these products can burn, or eat away living tissue (skin) or other materials like metals). Examples include oven, drain and toilet cleaners, chlorine bleach and car batteries.

Can react with air, water or other substances and result in explosions or the generation of toxic fumes. An example is mixing chlorine and ammonia.

Burns easily if exposed to a spark or flame, or may burst into flames at relatively low temperatures, thereby presenting a significant fire hazard. Examples include paint thinners, rubber cement, hair spray and furniture polish.

Liquid chemicals used to dissolve or thin oil-based paints, clean brushes, dilute varnish or clean up after painting. They can cause nervous system damage, irritation of eyes, nose and throat, and damage to internal organs if ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

All About Landfills

What Are Landfills and How Do They Work?

LandfillYou have just finished your meal at a fast food restaurant and you throw your uneaten food, food wrappers, drink cup, utensils and napkins into the trash can. You don't think aboutthat waste again. On trash pickup day in your neighborhood,you push your can out tothe curb, and workers dump the contents into a big truck and haul itaway. You don't have to think about that waste again, either But maybe you have wondered, as you watch the trash truck pull away, just where that garbage ends up.

Americans make about four pounds of trashper day per person. This is almost twice as much trash per person as most other major countries.

What Happens to this Trash?
Ideally we recycle and reuse as much as possible. If trash is not recycled or reused it is buried in landfills.

What is a Landfill?
Landfills are not just mountains of trash - they aim to keep the community as safe as possible from the harm that can be caused when the garbage rots, or "ecomposes."

Landfills bury the trash so it will be kept dry and will not be in contact with air. Under these conditions, trash will not decompose much. When trash doesn't decompose, it stays buried in the ground for a long, long, time.

Parts of a Landfill
The basic parts of a landfill, as described below:

  • Bottom liner system - separates trash and "leachate" (leech-it) from groundwater.Leachate is like "garbage juice" - water that is made when garbage rots and when water falls on the landfill .
  • Cells (old and new) - spaces where the trash is stored within the landfill
  • Storm water drainage system - collects rain water that falls on the landfill
  • Leachate collection system - collects water that has drained through the landfill itself and contains pollution.
  • Methane collection system - collects methane gas that is formed when garbage rots.
  • Covering or cap - seals off the top of the landfill