As a green builder I am always looking for ways to reuse garbage. For example I have used Gaia Soil for green roof medium, which is crushed Styrofoam waste and compost. In this process of recycling I need to know how long the particular material will last. Here is an informational list of items and their expected life span.

Of course what might be great in one scenario because it lasts a long time may be terrible in another. For example plastic is great because it lasts so long as a container, but put it in the ocean and it sucks that it lasts that long.

What toxins it gives off when it does decompose is a whole other blog post.

Here is the list:

Paper Towel – 2-4 weeks
Banana Peel – 3-4 weeks
Paper Bag – 1 month
Newspaper – 1.5 months
Apple Core – 2 months
Cardboard – 2 months
Cotton Glove – 3 months
Orange peels – 6 months
Plywood – 1-3 years
Wool Sock – 1-5 years
Milk Cartons – 5 years
Cigarette Butts – 10-12 years
Leather shoes – 25-40 years
Tinned Steel Can – 50 years
Foamed Plastic Cups – 50 years
Rubber-Boot Sole – 50-80 years
Plastic containers – 50-80 years
Aluminum Can – 200-500 years
Plastic Bottles – 450 years
Disposable Diapers – 550 years
Monofilament Fishing Line – 600 years
Plastic Bags – 200-1000 years