Who is Caroline?

Caroline Ling is an E-IPER graduate student at Stanford University pursuing an MBA/MS Environment with a focus on circular economy and sustainable design. Driven by her passion around the waste issues in society, she is dedicated to finding scalable solutions and creating cross-disciplinary dialogues around circular economy. 

Key Takeaways from Our Deep Dive

1. Where is “Away”?

We frequently talk about throwing trash “away”, but we infrequently stop to ask ourselves where “away” really is. Oftentimes, throwing trash “away” feels like it just magically disappears. But the reality is that most trash ends up in landfills, which are paid for by a significant portion of local tax dollars. The more trash we dump in landfills, the more tax money we pay to maintain those landfills or build new ones. Landfills take a health toll on society as well, since they can create air pollution or contribute to contaminated environmental systems that negatively impact human health. So when we throw trash “away”, we are sending it to landfills that have a far reaching influence on our daily wealth and health.

2. Sorting is Important

Your waste can be separated into 3 main categories: trash, recycling, and compost. By properly sorting your waste, you reduce the operating costs of each waste collection facility. For example, recycling centers pay a lot of money to get rid of items that shouldn’t have been sent to the center in the first place. But it can be tricky to know which types of items each recycling center accepts, because this is often location-dependent. Some cities may accept number 3 plastic, while others accept only plastic numbers 1 and 2. It’s best to call your local recycling center to know what materials they accept. 

For organic waste like food scraps, expired food, and paper, you can send these to your local composting facility. If there is not a composting facility in your area, you can compost at home. Composting is when you let organic waste naturally decompose in optimal conditions. Optimal conditions for composting include a good mix of “greens” (nitrogen-rich materials like food scraps) to “browns” (carbon-rich materials like twigs). There are several how-to videos for composting on YouTube. If you compost at home, you can use the final product as healthy soil for gardens or landscaping.

3. Reducing is Critical

The best way to reduce how much you pay for your waste to be collected is to reduce how much waste you produce in the first place. You can reduce your waste generation by buying in bulk, reducing food waste, avoiding unnecessary packaging, and avoiding single-use items like straws and plastic or paper bags.

Disclaimer: Please consult with a professional before making any changes to your waste sorting and disposal. Any and all changes should maintain proper health, safety, and sanitation levels within your daily lives and local environments. It All Adds Up and its affiliates are not responsible for any household damage or personal injuries that should occur from following any suggestions from It All Adds Up.


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