Monday, April 12, 2010


With Earth Day fast approaching, I thought I'd share some information about how long it takes some typical household items to decompose in a landfill:

Glass bottle - 1 million years
Monofilament fishing line - 600 years
Plastic beverage bottles - 450 years
Disposable diapers - 450 years
Aluminum can - 80-200 years
Boot sole - 50-80 years
Tin can - 50 years
Leather - 50 years
Nylon fabric - 30-40 years
Plastic bag - 10-20 years
Cigarette filter - 1-5 years
Wool sock - 1-5 years
Plywood - 1-3 years
Waxed milk carton - 3 months
Apple core - 2 months
Newspaper - 6 weeks
Orange or banana peel - 2-5 weeks
Paper towel - 2-4 weeks

Now these times vary depending upon how much air the items are exposed to.  The less air, such as at the bottom of a landfill, the more time it takes to decompose.  Also keep in mind, especially with the plastic and nylon, the material never actually goes away; it just breaks down into smaller pieces and sometimes enters our food chain.  Isn't that appetizing?  The best way to ensure that we have fewer items in landfill (and fewer toxins in our food) is to consume less and to demand what you do use is made of natural materials with as little packaging as possible.

(List source:  Natural Triad Magazine, April 2010; photo source:

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