Scientists have approximated the length of time different types of trash last in our landfills. In many cases, litter stays around longer than we do!
|Material||Length of Time|
|Cigarette butt||Takes 2-5 years to break down. Cigarette butts make up nearly 20% of all items littered and leach toxic chemicals into our water. If you smoke, dispose of fully extinguished butts in a trash can or ash receptacle.|
|Tin can (soup/vegetable)||Takes 50-80 years to break down.|
|Aluminum can||Takes 200-500 years to break down. An aluminum can recycled is typically a new can and back on the shelf within 60 days. Recycle!|
|Plastic bottle||Takes one million years to break down and releases a harmful chemical, BPA, into our water when it degrades. Twenty-six (26) billion plastic water bottles are thrown away annually. Recycle!|
|Styrofoam cup||Break down time is unknown – might remain as litter forever! The oils in a styrofoam cup never decompose.|
|Glass bottle||Break down time is unknown – might remain as litter forever! The energy saved by recycling ONE glass bottle can light a 100-watt light bulb for four hours or run a computer for 30 minutes. Recycle!|
|Plastic bags||Takes anywhere from months to hundreds of years to break down. As plastic bags decompose, tiny, toxic particles seep into soil. Those that enter creeks and rivers flow all the way to the Gulf of Mexico!|
|Pet Waste||Can contain giardia, roundworms, salmonella, and other viruses and parasites. When left on the ground, pet waste poses a threat to human health and impacts water quality when it washes into our creeks and river. Scoop the Poop!|
Wind and rainwater wash pollutants downhill to the lowest point in the area - the creek or the lake. Trash is the largest and most visible pollutant in urban creeks.