10 Facts About Your GarbageFebruary 28, 2019
Bottled Water: One of the Worst OffendersMarch 5, 2019
It’s easy not to think about garbage. You throw away your empty cartons, bags, and cups, and once a week the trash collector comes and takes it all away. Out of sight, out of mind… except that it’s not really gone. Most US garbage is simply relocated from your garbage can to a landfill or incinerator, both of which are fraught with problems:
- Incinerators: Emit toxic dioxins, mercury, cadmium, and other particulate matter into the air, and convert waste into toxic ash (which is sometimes used to cover landfills).
- Landfills: There are more than 3,000 active landfills, and 10,000-old landfills, in the US. While the number of landfills in the US has been decreasing in recent decades, they have, individually, been increasing in size. Along with being a major source of methane emissions, landfills produce “leachate,” a toxic fluid composed of pollutants like benzene, pesticides, heavy metals, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and more, which come from the compressed trash.Although landfills are technically supposed to keep garbage dry and are lined to prevent leachate from contaminating nearby soil and groundwater, the landfill liners are virtually guaranteed to degrade, tear, or crack eventually, allowing the toxins to escape directly into the environment.
- More Than 100 Tons of Waste for Every American: The average American throws away more than 7 pounds of garbage a day. That’s 102 tons in a lifetime, more than any other populations on Earth.
- Bottled Water Is the “Grandfather of Wasteful Industries.“ Edward Humes, author of the book “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash,” counts bottled water among the most wasteful of industries. In the US, Americans toss 60 million water bottles daily, which is nearly 700 each minute.
- Food Waste Is a Problem Too: Americans throw away 28 billion pounds of food a year, which is about 25 percent of the US food supply.
- Disposables Are a Drain: Ten percent of the world’s oil supply is used to make and ship disposable plastics – items like plastic utensils, plates, and cups that are used just one time and thrown away.
- Trash Is Expensive: Most communities spend more to deal with trash than they spend for schoolbooks, fire protection, libraries, and parks.
- Carpet Waste Alone Is Astounding: Americans throw away 5.7 million tons of carpet every year.
- Paper Waste Is a Shame: Americans waste 4.5 million tons of office paper a year. Ask yourself… do I really need to print that?
- Opting Out of Junk Mail Makes a Difference: According to Humes, the energy used to create and distribute junk mail in the US for one day could heat 250,000 homes. You can opt-out of junk mail by going to CatalogChoice.org.
- Too Many Toys: Only 4 percent of the world’s children live in the US, but Americans buy (and throw away) 40 percent of the world’s toys. Buy less toys, opt for second-hand versions, and pass down the toys you do purchase to others.
- Plastic Bags: On average, Americans use 500 plastic bags per capita each year. Such bags make up the second most common type of garbage found on beaches. Stash reusable shopping bags in your purse or car so you’re not tempted by plastic or paper.