I as I grow older, I am always suprised that many families just don't know what to do with or how to deal with waste. I live in a rural setting and my family understands what things are are made out of when we put them in the trash because we don't have a municipal trash system.
So, my kids know what is made from aluminum, other metals, and glass. They also know what is made from paper and what is food waste. We have different trash bins for these things. We also have a place to build compost for planting etc. We also know where to take things to be recycled. When these things are sorted out, the remaining waste is more easily dealt with because it is a very small amount.
My suggestion is for people is to sort out their trash so that not everything is combined into a landfill or into an unmanagable pile that contains everything mixed together. And, to seek out places that will take materials to recycle.
I live in a city that has as its goal, 0% waste... Of course, we're no where near that really. This year, however, my school did start composting and upcycling (which was even new to me--and I consider myself relatively green). It has been amazing, the awareness that this has brought to/for the students and our families. However, b/c of the necessity of washing out recyclable items, those are still being tossed out at lunch. This is heartbreaking each time I see it and/or think about it...and it's confusing for the students, as they know we recycle in the classroom. I've been trying to figure out how to solve this issue, but it's still an issue... We're making progress, definitely so, but we still need more...