Waste is a big deal, everywhere. What are you going to do about it? No matter what your relationship is with waste, going as green as you can is just a pretty darn good idea.
One of my favorite weekends of the year is when two tv events come together – the Phoenix Open and the Super Bowl. Now, I’m sure you’ve had enough about the Super Bowl (nice comeback), so I thought I’d focus my thoughts on the Open. As a golf enthusiast, I LOVE watching this event – the weather is typically perfect, huge crowds, and the crazy antics of the 16th hole stadium “pit”. The vent sponsor, The Thunderbirds – hosts of the Waste Management Phoenix Open – again broke another record eclipsing the $14 million mark for money raised from this year’s tournament, breaking the record of charitable dollars raised in a single year on tour and almost $100 million since 2010. The Thunderbirds, founded in 1937 with the mission of promoting the Valley of the Sun through sport, consist of 55 “active” members and more than 280 “life” members. Seeing all the WM commercials, I got to thinking about waste in America, and hit the internet. It’s simply amazing how much each of use produce. Here’s some interesting facts, a few fun video’s and some great trivia. Special thanks to Waste Management and forbes.com for the fun info. Enjoy! And thanks to all who take the time to recycle and help make things just a bit cleaner.
– If you divide total trash by the population, the average American produces over 2000 pounds of trash per year.
– Collectively, out of the 254 million tons of trash Americans produce in one year, we recycle about 34.3 percent of it. That means, for the average individual, 710.6 pounds are recycled and 1,361.4 pounds of trash are tossed out every year — about the weight of an average grizzly bear.
– Breakdown of the average American:
• 90 pounds of tossed-out clothes and shoes
• 77 pounds of plastic bottles and jars
• 77 pounds of cardboard boxes
• 48 pounds of books
• 38 pounds of newspapers
• 28 pounds of aluminum beer and soda cans
• 25 pounds of office papers
• 22 pounds of paper plates or cups
– And of course, there’s much more. For instance, you might wonder how many pounds of food does the average American waste. The answer is a bit upsetting – each year, each person tosses out roughly 220.96 pounds of food waste. (Steve, finish your beans!)
– It may not seem all that astonishing on the surface, but with 323.7 million people living in the United States, that is roughly 728,000 tons of daily garbage – enough to fill 63,000 garbage trucks. That is 22 billion plastic bottles every year in the U.S.
– Waste Management has 346 strategically-located transfer stations to consolidate, compact and load waste from collection vehicles into long-haul trailers or rail cars for transport to landfills.
– According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. has 3,091 active landfills and over 10,000 old municipal landfills. Wow!
– On a worldwide scale, we humans produce approx. 2.6 trillion pounds of trash per year. No country produces quite as much waste as America, but Russian isn’t far behind. Brazil, Japan, China, India, and Germany are all big wasters as well.
– It is estimated that as much as 91 percent of plastics aren’t recycled, which is a problem since many forms of plastic take between ten years and a few hundred years to degrade properly in sunlight, with many plastics not degrading because they’re hidden in landfills.
– In water bottles alone, 57.3 billion sold in 2014, up from 3.8 billion plastic water bottles sold in 1996, the earliest year for available data. (today It’s easily over 60 billion).
– The process of producing bottled water requires around 6 times as much water per bottle as there is in the container!
– Amazon alone ships an average of 608 million packages each year, which equates to (an estimated) 1,600,000 packages a day. That’s a lot of cardboard boxes, even when we consider some of the packaging used may be padded envelopes. Assuming that 85% of this is physical shipped goods from Amazon itself, the rest is e-Books, Amazon Web Services, third-party-fulfilled products, Marketplace products, etc. That’s like ~$51 billion in shipments.
– So, when we apply the math – at peak, Amazon sold 306 items per second, which is about 26 million per day – equaling a whole bunch of padded envelopes, plastic bags and cardboard boxes.
– Now do some more math – if a box is about 8 square feet of cardboard, one tree can produce 151.6 boxes for our use. (that’s about 171 thousand trees … just for that “free shipping you love so much!
– The average fast food restaurant generates 200,000 pounds of food waste per year (Statistic Brain, 2013). Multiply 200,000 pounds by 160,000 and that is 32 billion pounds of food waste generated in American fast food restaurants alone.
Alas, there are many ways each of us can cut down on our personal waste:
- Bring reusable bags and containers when shopping, traveling or packing lunches or leftovers.
- Choose products that are returnable, reusable or refillable over single-use items.
- Avoid individually wrapped items, snack packs and single-serve containers. Buy large containers of items or from bulk bins whenever practical.
- Do not buy or use plastic water bottles. Use containers of your own.
- Be aware of double-packaging — some “bulk packages” are just individually wrapped items packaged yet again and sold as a bulk item.
- Purchase items such as dish soap and laundry detergents in concentrate forms.
- Compost food scraps and yard waste. Food and yard waste accounts for about 11 percent of the garbage thrown away in metro areas. Many types of food scraps, along with leaves and yard trimmings, can be combined in your backyard compost bin.
- Try to reduce the amount of unwanted mail you receive. The average resident in America receives over 30 pounds of junk mail per year.
- Shop at second-hand stores. You can find great used and unused clothes at low cost to you and the environment. Buy quality clothing that won’t wear out and can be handed down to people you know or to a thrift store.
- Buy items made of recycled content and reuse them as much as you can. Use both sides of every page of a notebook and use printed-on printer paper for a scratch pad.
- Also, remember that buying in bulk rather than individual packages will save you lots of money and reduce waste. Packaging makes up 30 percent of the weight and 50 percent of trash by volume.
- Buy juice, snacks and other lunch items in bulk and use the reusable containers each day.
Here are a couple of videos on the subject of garbage:
CLICK. This clip shows how household trash are recycled and processed.
CLICK. What a Waste 2.0: Everything You Should Know About Solid Waste Management