Startling Facts About America’s Trash

Americans make an awful lot of trash. Every day, all across the country, commercial garbage pickup, curbside pickup, and other trash pick up of residential yard waste, recycling, and kitchen and household garbage require thousands of trucks, hundreds of thousands of workers, and billions of tax dollars to accomplish. All this trash and garbage is filling up our landfills at an astonishing rate. People are more aware these days of the need to be careful with their trash, and yet there’s still plenty of it. There is more we can do to be better stewards of what we have. As you consider your own trash, garbage, and recycling, think about these shocking facts.

  • American garbage by weight. In the course of one lifetime, the average American will end up throwing away 600 times their own adult weight in garbage and trash. The average person in the United States is generating more than four pounds of trash every day.
  • American garbage buy cost Whether it gets picked up by commercial garbage pickup or residential waster removal, on average it costs about $30 dollars per ton to recycle our trash. That’s still better than sending it to a landfill, which cost $50 dollars per ton. Every year, we spend about $11.5 billion cleaning up litter. Commercial garbage pickup and trash removal cost are more of a drain on local municipal funds than libraries, parks, or even fire services.
  • American garbage buy numbers Americans throw away about 600 million water bottles every day. That’s 700 water bottles per minute. There are 3,000 landfills actively being used in the United States, and 10,000 old landfills that have been completely filled up. The number of total landfills in the United States has gone down in the last few decades. However, the size of the landfills is going up.
  • American paper waste Americans are also throwing away a lot of paper trash. Paper and paper board make up 27% of all municipal solid waste. As a group, we Americans are wasting 4.5 million tons of office paper every year. Just choosing to opt out of junk mail makes a huge difference. The energy that it takes to make and distribute America’s junk mail for one day is enough to heat 250,000 homes.
  • American garbage and commercial garbage pickup. Every city in America generates a lot of trash and has its own commercial garbage pickup Service. New York City is America’s densest, and collecting garbage is a logistical nightmare for commercial garbage pickup. As a result, the waste management ecosystem of New York city now involves over 1,500 collection trucks, two entire city agencies, almost 250 private hauling companies, and three different modes of transportation to remove the garbage, including trucks, trains, and barges. Every year, New York city spends $2.3 billion getting rid of its trash, some of which travels 7,000 miles and ends up in China.
  • American garbage toys Americans buy and then throw away 40% of all the world’s toys. This would be less shocking if it weren’t also true that only 4% of all the world’s children live in the United States. It’s probably worth it to consider buying fewer toys, buying some secondhand toys, and passing down toys that aren’t broken so that others can use them.
  • American garbage carpet? Yes, carpet. Every year Americans throw away more than 5.5 million tons just of carpet alone. That’s not even counting throw rugs and other similar home textiles.
  • It’s not all bad news After all those startling statistics, the situation seems pretty grim. There is some good news, though. We’re recycling more than we ever have, and now 87% of people living in America have access to drop off or curbside paper recycling programs. There’s plenty of room for improvement, but things are better than they were a few decades ago.

don’t forget the waste hierarchy. These are the three Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. These waste management strategies can help you and your family generate less waste and preserve our environment for generations to come.

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