Over 9 billion gallons of hazardous waste are injected underground every year.

What You Can Do Today

Much of the toxic waste that is injected into the ground is the result of processing fossil fuels and manufacturing plastics, cosmetics and other products made from petrochemicals.

When we conserve and decrease the use of these products, the demand for making them goes down. The choices you make in the energy you use and what you purchase and throw away can make a big difference starting today:

1) Sign up for cleaner electricity. Producing electricity is the leading cause of industrial air pollution in the United States. Purchasing 100 percent wind power for a year will offset over 17,000 lbs of CO2, as much as taking a single car off the road for one year.

2) Make smart transportation decisions. Plan your travel each day to minimize the number of trips you make and miles you drive. Take public transportation when possible. Consider a hybrid gas/electric car when you are ready to buy a new one. The most energy-efficient models get 57-60 miles per gallon in the city. Better fuel economy means lower Co2 production – a five miles per gallon difference is equal to about 2,800 pounds of CO2 a year (www.epa.gov/greenvehicles).

3) Find ways to use less plastic. Take your own reusable cloth or paper bag to the store to carry out your purchases. Use glass instead of plastic for storing water and foods. Carry a small bag with a reusable dish, cup and flatware to potlucks to reduce use of Styrofoam and plastic. Keep a reusable take out container in your care to bring home leftovers when you eat out.

4) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rebuy. According to Keep Texas Beautiful, Texans throw away enough trash to fill the Astrodome in less than 10 days. Each ton of recycled paper saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space; 7,000 gallons of water; 17 trees and 4,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity (www.texasrecyclesday.org)

5) Contact your elected officials. Call or write a letter to your elected officials and let them know you are concerned about underground toxic waste. To find out how to get in touch with your representatives go to http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml.


Food and drink containers are forever
By Vicki Wolf

Food and drink containers may be out of site when you throw them in the trash, but they don’t go away. The chemical by-products from making plastic and other disposable containers adds to the billions of gallons of hazardous waste that gets injected into the ground each year.
            Containers made from plastic, glass, Styrofoam, aluminum and tin used every day to contain food, water and other drinks stay in the landfill or somewhere for a long time. Styrofoam used in cups, plates and to-go containers never decomposes. Plastic soda bottles take 450 years to decompose.
            Using these materials to contain food and water is more a matter of convenience than necessity. To limit use of plastics, glass, Styrofoam and metals, begin to be more aware of what you buy and how it is packaged.

  1. Get a good water filter for your home rather than using bottled water. Have one bottle that you carry with you, and refill it as needed
  2. Take reusable bags to the store when you buy groceries, and by fresh foods and foods in bulk rather than packaged foods
  3. Use cloth rather than paper napkin and towels
  4. Take your own plate or bowl, flatware and cup to potlucks instead of using paper or Styrofoam
  5. When you can’t use a container that can be re-used, use containers that can be recycled, and be sure to recycle them Just remember, when you throw something away, it has to go somewhere.

For more information, check out www.cleanhouston.org, the website for CLEAN, Citizens League for Environmental Action Now.

Adapted from EarthCare Radio, courtesy of CLEAN (Citizens League for Environmental Action Now