How Much Do We Throw Away?

Imagine carrying a trash bag around with you for a single day and collect everything you throw away.  The average people will throw away is a surprising 5lbs per person.  This includes paper, metal, plastic and other materials daily.  Over a lifetime a person will throw away approximately 50 tons! For the country as a whole, this amounts to about 1 billion pounds of solid waste every day.  What is the composition of a normal household’s trash you say?

  • 50% paper!  Time to recycle if your not!
  • 13% yard waste
  • 10% metal
  • 7% glass
  • 7% plastic
  • 3% food waste
  • 10% other

The United States is a disposable society and we consume more products than virtually any other nation.  Many of these products are throw away.  The most familiar case is fast food, swerved with cardboard, plastic, and Styrofoam containers that we discard within minutes.    Think about the way we package simple fishhook?  It is in an elaborate package and .what happens to that package when it is purchased?  Is the marketing of a simple fishook package worth it?

What about societies creation of items designed to be thrown away?  Think about disposable cameras, pens, razors, flashlights and even batteries.  Other products from light bulbs to automobiles are designed to have limited useful life and then become unwanted junk.

The average person in the United States consumes 50 times more steel, 170 times more newspaper, 250 times more gasoline, and 300 times more plastic each year than the typical person in India.  This high level of consumption means that we in the United States not only use a disproportionate share of the plant’s resources but also generate most of the world’s refuse.

We like to say that we “throw things away” but 80% of our solid waste is not burned or recycled and never “goes away”.  It ends up in landfills!  The EPA has identified 30,000 dump sites across the United States containing hazardous materials that are polluting water both above and below grounds.  Tens of millions of tires, diapers, and other items that we bury in landfills each year do not decompose and will be an unwelcome legacy for future generations.

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