WorldChanging pointed me to a Fortune Magazine article on trash. Garbage is a big problem when thinking about sustainability. If you create waste that is not recycled or reused, then your processes are not sustainable. It seems some cities and businesses are making great strides towards reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. There is apparently a company in Tennessee that turns plastic hangers from WalMart into resin pellets that get used by manufacturers to make molded plastics. Paper recycled in San Francisco becomes packaging for goods made in China.
This is something everyone should think about. Every community and business should figure out how to keep their waste and byproducts from ending up in landfills and other dumps. If your town doesn't have compost service, start your own and lobby your local leaders. Also important is that the infrastructure is built up so that using recycled materials is more economical than digging them out of the earth. It may make sense to throw some incentives in (although I am generally very wary of incentives). It's also important to consider your trash when buying things. Try to avoid styrofoam when possible. Look out for plastics that are difficult to recycle.
I've started watching what we throw away here. A huge part of our garbage is food scraps. Berkeley is finally starting a composting program next year. We'll be gone before then, but I plan to set my own bin up when we move into our new place. Plastics that Berkeley doesn't recycle are probably next. I try to be careful what we purchase, but it's hard to always be vigilant. If we were charged by weight or volume for our garbage, I'm sure I'd think more about it.