From a story by Jonalee Merkel on WSAW-TV, Wausau:

If you have ever wondered how much waste you actually produce, you probably don’t want to know.

“Wisconsin put over 10 million tons of garbage in landfills in 2008,” said Meleesa Johnson, the Marathon County Solid Waste Department director. “With 10 million tons of garbage in Wisconsin for just one year, if every family does one thing different, makes on different choice, we can reduce the amount of waste going into landfills.”

And the changes we all can make to help are fairly simple, like just changing the way we shop.

“When you go to the grocery store, you’re always so enticed to buy that little convenient package,” Johnson said. “Let’s say the juice boxes. Juice boxes are great if you’re on the go, but when you’re at home, probably not the best choice. Why not have a big half gallon of juice you can pour it into a regular cup? [The] cup can be washed and reduce the amount of waste you have.”

And when it comes to those things you no longer use, you should consider if your potential trash could be someone else’s treasure. Johnson says she sees a number of items, ranging from toys to clothing, that come into the landfill in great shape and could really be taken to a resale shop.

“Don’t throw them in the landfill because there’s much better uses for these things,” she said.

But until we all start cutting down on our waste, rest assured the Marathon County Solid Waste Department has found a good use for all our garbage.

“We extract the gases that are accumulating and we take those gases and burn those off to produce electricity,” Johnson said. “That’s a very positive thing. We have something that we don’t like, garbage, but we’re actually finding a very beneficial way to use the waste.”