The Scary Facts About Waste: An Overview
Updated: Oct 13, 2020
Sustainability can be defined as "avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance." It can also be defined as, "the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level." If we think about this in the context of environmental sustainability, we can view it as avoiding the depletion of natural resources by maintaining a certain rate or level of consumption that keeps an ecological balance. I haven't always been interested in sustainability but I've always tried to see how I could reuse things, like the very first time I repainted a dresser for my son's room. It wasn't until I started working at a resale store that I had a chance to see how much we buy and give away. Some of the things we received were older. Some of the thing were new with the tags on it. And yet it would all get donated well before its time.
The United States of America generates the most amount of waste per person on a daily basis out of all industrialized countries. In 2017, we produced approximately 268 million tons of municipal solid wastes, which included food wastes, packaged goods, disposable goods, and used electronics (among other things). That amount of waste could fill approximately 15 soccer fields (or 21 football fields for us Americans). That's a lot of trash!
Each person contributes significantly to that total amount of waste. In 2017, a individual could produce 4.51 pounds of waste per day. That's about 1,646 pounds per person per year. If we think about a woman's purse, which can weigh (on average) 5 pounds, that equates to about 329 purses carried in a year!
The good thing is that some of this waste is being recycled. In 2017, 35.2% of waste was either recycled or composted, while only 12.7% of wasted was combusted. However, more than half of our waste still goes to landfills (52.1%). There is definitely room for improvement there!
Over the month of October, we'll be exploring some of the scary facts about our waste. We'll release a scary fact each week and we'll try our best to equip you with tips and resources geared to help you incorporate sustainable practices in your life and your home.
Do you have questions or tips to share? Leave them in the comments below.