ANSWERS TO THE TRASH QUIZ:
1. Roughly one every 45 minutes. During a 3-hour shift, volunteers can usually fill 3-4 bags, depending on the density of the trash
2. 40-45 gallons. The average household garbage bag holds 30 gallons.
3. Paper products are the most common - from gum wrappers to huge pieces of cardboard. Plastic is a close second and actually beats out paper if you include the recyclables.
4. 8-10%. If our crew fills 25 bags with trash, we'll typically have 2 bags of recyclables
5. A white pickup truck. Someone drove a truck into the bushes at the Highway 880 interchange with The Alameda, and walked away from it. Not an accident, just abandoned.
6. Candy wrappers (Halloween is October 31)
7. We have found money in fast food bags. When people go through the drive-through window, they sometimes put their change in the bag, and then forget about it when they toss the bag out the window.
8. In the winter the weather is colder and often rainy so windows stay up and less trash gets tossed out of windows. There are fewer gardening and construction crews with open truck beds. Homeless tend to find shelters for the winter months so their trash doesn't find its way on to the highway.
9. (1) Petroleum-based plastic of all types (bags, bottles, cartons, eating utensils, cases, etc.) last just about forever. Plastic will eventually (years, sometimes decades, sometimes centuries!) becomes brittle, rips, and breaks into smaller and smaller pieces. It never decomposes, but becomes tiny particles of plastic in the soil or atmosphere or water. Trash researchers have unearthed plastic milk jugs in landfill that still hold water after being buried for over 30 years..
(2) Same as a regular plastic bag except that it breaks apart faster when exposed to the sun, and shatters when touched. This type of plastic still does not go away. The pieces of plastic just get tinier and tinier and tinier -- plastic dust.
(3) Biodegradable plastic, with exposure to air and sunlight, will be reduced to the components it is made from - potato or corn starch, for example - and will be reabsorbed into soil or water. The time it takes to decompose depends on the product density and exposure, and is typically measured in months.
10. (1) Illegal dumping; (2) uncovered truck beds; (3) homeless living near freeways; (4) drunks getting rid of the evidence; (5) accidents; (6) lazy, inconsiderate, irresponsible slobs!