Where does it all go?

The truth is, many of us don’t know. Our trash is out of sight out and out of mind and it’s the main reason we don’t take more care about the things we throw away.

The garbage man comes every week and whisks away all of our unwanted refuge and we never have to see it or think about it again. Thankfully.

Now, imagine if we didn’t have that luxury. What if we were responsible for disposing of all of our trash ourselves? Do you know how fast it would start to pile up?

On average, each of us produces 4.4 pounds of trash each day. Yes, every day. All year. That’s 1,606 pounds of trash per person per year, the equivalent of 6,750 blue whales. Yes, every day.

Check out this visual:

map of US landfills over last 10 years

The Individual

The mountain of waste is built one piece of trash at a time. If we want to be conscious consumers we should also be conscious disposers.

90% of the problem we have with consumption and disposal is acknowledging there is a problem. While the whale comparisons, charts, and gifs are a shock, it’s not enough. In order to take action we need to truly understand our waste on an individual level.

A trip to the garbage dump might drive the point home, but I have something easier and more eye opening: record everything you throw away for one week. From a piece of floss to an old TV,  write it all down in a notebook or on your phone.

Tracking will do three things:

  1. You’ll be forced to be conscious of everything you throw away.
  2. You’ll realize how much you actually throw away you weren’t aware of and you’ll start to think about ways to prevent waste.
  3. Over time you will subconsciously start to make greener decisions because you won’t want to add to your list of waste.

Your Action Item

Get a small notebook or start a new note on your phone. Track everything you throw away for one week. In order for this to work you have to commit to one week.

Tracking. That’s it. Once you become conscious of what you throw away, the rest will fall into place. You’ll instinctively make your own adjustments to decrease waste.


Stay on course:

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How Much Waste The US Produces Each Year

If you didn’t get enough in this post, check out some more stats and visuals on the waste Americans produce each year, as well as some more encouraging stats and graphics on recycling.

Trash by The Numbers

View a map of trash produced by each state and enjoy even more shocking facts about our waste – like 22 billion: the number of water bottles thrown out every year.

It’s Scary…

The most important fact of all the resources included in today’s post: If we make less waste, less waste goes to the landfill.

Clothing Waste

Take a peak into how much textiles Americans throw away each year. This post will have you thinking twice about what’s in your closet.

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1 Comment

  1. I live in Ireland and was a bit horrifed (doucmentary http://www.rte.ie/player/ie/show/eco-eye-1112/10675182/?ap=1) to find out that about a third of recycled waste cannot be used as it is put in the recycle bin with conaminants (ie nappies), and that we export our waste paper for recycling to china………………Ultimately take out coffee for me holds my particular ire…. and perverse fascination, years ago it was considered vulgar to eat or drink on the street, and now its almost compulsory. To me, to walk and drink coffee is enjoy neither, I would prefer to sit with friends and drink from real cups and I think I am deserving of this. (and that coffee cups have plastic lining…pretty much non-recyclable)…..

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