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Strange Trash Facts

Garbage or trash is a major form of environment pollution these days. Each person produces about 4.3 pounds of trash a day. Do you know where all your garbage goes? Many types of garbage take hundreds of years to properly decompose when thrown away.

Banana peel decomposes in 2 to 10 days.

Sugarcane waste takes 30 to 60 days for decomposition.

Thread decomposes within 3 to 14 months.

Cotton decomposes within a month to 5 months.

Paper carry bags decompose in 2 to 5 months.

Rope takes 3 to 14 months for decomposition.

Orange peel decomposes within 6 months.

Cigarette takes a year to 12 years for decomposition.

Milk packet (Tetra) covers and cool drink packets decompose in 5 years.

Leather shoes decompose in 25 to 40 years.

Nylon clothes take 30 to 40 years for decomposition.

Plastic carry bags decompose in 15 to 1000 years.

Aluminum cans decompose in 80 to 100 years.

Sanitary napkins and children’s diapers take 500 to 800 years for decomposition.

Glass bottles decompose in 1,000,000 years.

Plastic bottles and cans never decompose.

About 90% of the contents of our bins could be reused or recycled. Think twice before throwing the trash into dustbin. You can reduce the use of some items, can reuse some of them like paper and cardboard and take some of them (cans, plastic, bottles etc) to recycle bin.

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User Comments
  1. IcyCucky

    On April 19, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    Incredible facts..

  2. nobert soloria bermosa

    On April 19, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    nice research job valli,

    i’m just wondering, you mentioned that alum.cans decomposes from 80-100 years and then on the last part you said plastic and cans never decompose,i would agree plastics really don’t decompose,may i ask what kind of can is it you are referring that doesn’t decompose?


  3. Ruby Hawk

    On April 19, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    These are some facts we all need to consider before we put anything in the trash. We should never buy new when we can use what we have for the purpose. As for our house, we do not throw away 4 lbs of trash per day, but we still throw away too much.

  4. Anne Lyken-Garner

    On April 20, 2008 at 8:50 am

    amen to that. I’m a firm believer in recycling and reusing.

  5. Emmanuel70

    On April 20, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Hey, great post! Solid facts, nice design.

  6. valli

    On April 20, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Thanks everyone for reading and commenting.

    I said plastic bottles and cans: plastic bottles and plastic cans.

  7. baloney

    On April 21, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Where are the references? What does the glass turn into in a million years? Do you really think that plastic bottle will look like new in 5 trillion years?

  8. A. Random

    On April 22, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    What about the chemicals released into the atmosphere/waterways/soil/whatever during the recycling process? from what I hear it’s more damaging to the environment (most of the time) to recycle things like plastic and aluminum cans.. in a different way, granted…

  9. Alexa Gates

    On April 22, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    great information Valli… but… doesn’t this contradict ‘global warming’? jk :_

  10. slowslow

    On April 25, 2008 at 5:47 am

    Great Article!

  11. Darlene McFarlane

    On April 28, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Great write up, valli. I have done research for breaking down plastic materials and was amazed by what I found. They have done studies by exposing plastic of various kinds to extreme elements and came to the conclusion that some properties in plastic may never break down. There are some particles in plastic that will break down quickly but most plastic compounds will still be here long after we are gone. No one has ever been around long enough to research it’s decomposition in real time so 1000 years sounded like a safe number.

    We recycle nearly everything where I live. We either compost for our own gardens or put food scraps out to be picked up weekly. Paper, plastic bottles. containers, and glass is collected weekly while our trash is now collected bi-weekly. What we are finding is about 95 percent of our trash is plastic bags and plastic food wrapping. They are collecting everything but the most toxic material and burying it in our landfill sites. A garbage can full of compressed plastics per household twice a month adds up quickly.

    Great article, valli on one of my pet peeves.

  12. valli

    On April 29, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Thank you for the information Darlene.

    Thank you Alexa and Slowslow.

    Of course, certain chemcials released during recyling. Yet recycling is considered better than decomposition till the date.

    You can find references over the net.

  13. puttputt

    On May 2, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Burn it.

  14. Mark

    On May 2, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    B S Check out the epa site ALL BS

  15. Andrew

    On May 2, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    We have to leave something for the future generations to find about us. Its not like we are short of places to dispose of them.

  16. Dr. Black

    On May 2, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Stop being so afraid of your own mortality and the mortality of the human race.

  17. Spuffler

    On May 2, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    “Plastic bottles and cans never decompose.”
    From first hand experience, that is quite incorrect. The example ‘plastic bottle’ in the above photo is a fuel container, which is most often HDPE (plastic sheeting is also HDPE, milk jugs are HDPE). In my home in the northern reaches of the continental USA, after local direct sunlight shone on HDPE milk jugs for 2 years, those milk jugs became so extremely brittle that simply pressing on them reduced them to small chips. It is a well known problem that HDPE plastic sheeting cannot survive direct sunlight exposure, even WITH the famous UV stabilizers, for more than a few months. My experience ranges from pre- to post- UV stabilized blends, I’m not as uninformed as the next person could wish to berate.

    Seems that UV can decompose almost any HDPE, so make sure you toss all your milk jugs and old gas cans somewhere where the sun can burn ‘em.

  18. Dr. Greyson

    On May 2, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Valli, you obviously have not done any REAL research on your topic, by consulting REAL scientists, engaged in the design, manufacture, and eventual disposal of some of the above man-made products. Hell, even some of your times for the more natural products are off by a wide margin. Most ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ based refuse biodegrades in 30-60 days, which you have correctly stated for the sugar cane. Congratulations, you got ONE right. Other than that, it appears you are simply spouting off with your ‘opinion’ instead of facts. And, more likely you are regurgitating the opinion of someone else, who most likely did not bother to actually do any research, but restated something the ‘heard somewhere’. As Spuffler said above, almost all plastics you’ve mentioned are of the HDPE type, which is in fact designed to biodegrade within 12 months. In North America and the UK, these plastics are engineered by LAW to biodegrade in specific amounts of time (the time depends on the laws in the country of manufacture). Please, next time you decide to post rubbish of this nature, CITE YOUR SOURCES. This way, everyone interested in these things can verify what you state, and maybe you can make your case heard, or at least believably valid.

  19. theRabbi

    On May 2, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    “B S Check out the epa site ALL BS”

    Yes, because the EPA is still functioning and has not been crippled by Bush politics at all.

  20. Digital Anarchy

    On May 2, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    If you bury it who gives a crap how long it takes to decompose??

    It can stay buried for a million years what do I care? As a matter of fact its a good thing because then archaeologists will have something to look at in a million years when they excavate it.

    Honestly people get a life.

  21. Betty Jane DSanto

    On May 3, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Great Article! Good Info! Exceptional Photos! Thanks.

  22. Camel Regular

    On May 3, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Very insightful… I noticed the cigarette was filtered. Without the filter, I’d imagine it’s a matter of days for decomposition.

  23. Esmor

    On May 3, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    All organic compounds decompose. Where do you think oil and gas comes from?

  24. Brent Anderson

    On May 3, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Awwwww how cute! Lets all sing and hug a tree =)

  25. wipeout

    On May 3, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    what we need is natural population control on a massive scale. a pandemic, a catastrophic world war, an apocalypse… something to rid the planet of the ultimate parasite: us. go ahead, get offended… it’s in our nature.

  26. Andrew

    On May 3, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    “What about the chemicals released into the atmosphere/waterways/soil/whatever during the recycling process? from what I hear it’s more damaging to the environment (most of the time) to recycle things like plastic and aluminum cans.. in a different way, granted…”

    Not sure about plastics, but aluminium is much cheaper and cleaner to recycle than to extract from its ore, which involves a whole bunch of processing.

  27. Bosco

    On May 3, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    #21 – Well hell when you put it THAT way … I’m turning a few 5 gallon plastic gas containers into my personal time capsules. I’ll bury them in national parks (less likely to have a Quickie Mart built on it). In a million or milliondy billion years they will discover I invented, the transistor, internet, toenail clippers, mustard, … I invented inventing !!! Gawdamn skippy

  28. Kyle

    On May 4, 2008 at 3:50 am

    Read “The World Without Us”. I would use his references on the plastic, but it was a library book and is no longer in my possession. Many types of plastic we have no idea how long they will take to decompose… especially on the molecular level.

    So don’t believe what you read on the internet, go pick up a book… and actually learn something. This guy is right about plastic basically. We don’t know how long it takes.

  29. Rana Sinha

    On May 4, 2008 at 4:43 am

    Very informative.

    Now I understand many things. We have a visitor who hides cigarette butts in our flower pots. The oldest ones still are recognizable (just barely though) after five years. The plot behind our summer cottage was used as a dump upto the end of the seventies. After thirty odd years we can still pick up Tetrapack juice cartons with metal inside, plastic milk bags with recognizable text on them, aluminium caps and of course glass bottles. A leather shoe with the upper almost decomposed but with rubber sole intact also surfaced.
    I wonder how this decomposition rate would be affected by climate? We live in Finland, where the earth is frozen and sno-covered for 4-5 months a year.

  30. Judy Sheldon

    On May 4, 2008 at 8:12 am

    Valli, I worry less about exact dates of composition, but am impressed more with your focal point – Yes, we do need to make steps towards protecting our environment. Thank you for your message.
    I am so sorry that certain individuals felt it necessary to unload some of their negativity on you, particularly cursing and name calling. Neither of those tactics show scholarly behavior.
    Take care, Valli.

  31. Reggie

    On May 4, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Judy, First you congratulate someone for their focus, while forgiving their fact gathering (their facts are completely wrong). Then you go one to berate others (who know the facts)for less than scholarly tactics. Just wow.

    You Judy, are what is wrong with the world. Idiocy unchecked.

  32. Stone

    On May 4, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    As a person with a degree in Environmental Science and having studied actual landfills over time, I can tell you that the above figures may or may not be accurate for an item that is exposed to light and air, but it matters little when in the anaerobic and dark environment of a landfill. Studies of old dumps show that even the most biodegradable items live vastly extended lives in such conditions, and most of what is in a landfill will, in effect, never break down.
    Newspaper, that very quickly-biodegradable substance, has been found to be not even yellowed after 30-40 years in a dump. That doesn’t even begin to address what happens to the water table when it’s contaminated by the landfill and other unpleasant facts about landfills.


    On May 5, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Good info, thanks and take care!

  34. Dee Huff

    On May 5, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    This is a real eye-opener.

  35. MindIt

    On May 6, 2008 at 1:39 am

    Thanks for reminding us once more that we have to be careful with using things that take a long time to decompose. I wonder whether the numbers being true is so importnat here. I don’t think you have any pretensions to being scholastic in this article. If I got it right, your idea was to create awareness, and you have been very successful. Even hardcore cynics have read and commented. Cheers!

  36. Rookie

    On May 7, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Good article Valli. I agree with Judy, MindIt, Ruby Hawk,Anne Lyken-Garner and others. I think one purpose of this article is solved, people are reading it and talking about recycling!! Good reminder.

  37. Recycle Bin

    On May 8, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    This is for #18 by Spuffler:
    Do u really think that after u toss some things up where sun can burn them, they are left in the same position for years together? Dont u know that winds carry enough earth to bury things with time? And also get ur basic definitions right! Decomposition is not just breaking or shattering what u can see by naked eyes, it means complete breakdown of any material into nothing more than basic elements that are found naturally on earth.

  38. valli

    On May 22, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Cigarettes take longer to decompose beacuse they have filters.

  39. Flume

    On June 22, 2008 at 3:09 am

    Thanks once again for reminding us that the interesting ‘facts’ on the Internet are not always well-researched (if researched at all), honestly presented (these figures are not accurate for interred objects, which includes most landfill garbage), or well thought-out (you say “thread” and show a picture of what appears to be nylon string).

    I would also like to second Reggie’s criticism of Judy, as Judy apparently thinks that using abusive language is not scholarly, but failing to research your topic or cite references is acceptable.

  40. jennifer

    On September 1, 2008 at 11:17 am

    wow great facts. There helping me on a huge project i am doing to help and aware the problem of roadside litter. thank you!

    Jennifer Howskini
    Roadside Cleanup Management
    of Vermont

  41. JGoods

    On November 18, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    boone crackage

  42. Spuffler hater

    On February 24, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    #17 spuffler

    Truly you are a retard to say that decomposition is when the material breaks into tiny pieces that you caN SEE because its not decomposition is when the object reaches its original stateas first found on the earth.


  43. Sperry

    On March 19, 2009 at 7:43 am

    I think that this website needs more facts and info so i Can use the info on my projects!!!!!!!!!!!:)

  44. bob

    On April 27, 2009 at 11:56 am


  45. sacgwina

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    dont smoke

  46. bob

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    ya what wina said

  47. ace

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:08 pm


  48. kip

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:11 pm


  49. betty crocker

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Try my brownies!

  50. dasd

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:11 pm


  51. betty crocker

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    They are super amazing!

  52. bob friend

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    hi bob ace kip a bob

  53. ace

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    nice message wina

  54. kip

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:13 pm


  55. betty crocker

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Here’s the brownie song! Oh, say can you eat! Brownies, oh, brownies!!!!!! So chocolately!

  56. kip

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    waz up

  57. a bob

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    I hate my life

  58. ace

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    nice song

  59. kip

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    waz up

  60. a bob

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    your fat

  61. bob friend

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    i donot care about your brownies

  62. ace

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    we need to go soon

  63. kip

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    hi yall

  64. betty crocker

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    There are triple boysenberry brownies, chocolate brownies, undesirable brownies, and butterscotch brownies!

  65. kip

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:16 pm


  66. ace

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:16 pm


  67. betty crocker

    On April 27, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    a bob you shouldn’t even make a comment like that! because everyone knows you are too, A BOB, GOOD DAY!

  68. a bob

    On April 27, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Your right, i am fat and ugly

  69. yo mamma

    On April 27, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    these facts kinda suck

  70. Saint

    On April 27, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    HA HA “a bob said ur fat” lol

  71. bob

    On April 29, 2009 at 10:54 am

    no im not!

  72. chickenpox

    On April 29, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    what percentage of garbage is actually recycling?

  73. cate

    On June 7, 2009 at 8:20 am


  74. brad

    On September 23, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    what does any of the above comments about brownies and the rude remarks have to do with a post about garbage

  75. FRank

    On October 8, 2009 at 11:59 am

    This stuff is great!!!!!!!!

  76. FRank

    On October 8, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    I think you ARE right about everything above i looked on a lot of websites and they all say things pretty close to yours.

  77. Karl Homain

    On October 13, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Spoofler Hater and Dr. Greyson,

    You guys sound like spokesmen for the International Plastic Association. If you truly think HDPE decomposes and goes back to nature in two years, I’ve got some swamp real estate you can buy. Breaking down because its brittle into smaller pieces doesn’t change the molecular composition of the plastics dickheads, its still plastic – just smaller pieces probably similar to your hat sizes

  78. Je-Mi

    On October 15, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    wow… thats horrble =( this is a perfect example to tell us not to litter (espacially glass bottles) so be eco-friendly and join eco-clubs! XD

  79. Tina

    On October 21, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Everyone just be quiet!!!!!!

  80. TIM

    On October 22, 2009 at 11:33 am


  81. jHopper

    On December 10, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    for the person who said who cares about the land fills. would YOU enjoy living over a VAT OF TOXIC DUMP

  82. bob

    On January 7, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    yo im back

  83. bob

    On January 7, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    ace tell me if your on

  84. ace

    On January 8, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    “betty crocker” is my friend. and brownies have alot to do with the landfills!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  85. sam

    On February 8, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    That’s amazing

  86. Julia Marianna Owensby

    On February 15, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Hi! I’m only 9 and I know the difference between trash and recycle.
    The article is nice. It gives people the idea they should DEFFINATELY recycle. I am trying to teach kids at school to recycle also.
    I want to thank you for publishing this article. I wish it could be read by more people.

  87. Desiree

    On February 26, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Hey Mrs.Falconer you might not now me but I go to class in D-1 with Mrs.Cornaggia I hope i get to now u better


    On March 14, 2010 at 4:18 am


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