Humans all over the world have thrown away so much stuff, that we are running out of places to put it. There are no places you can go anymore—from Antarctica to the top of Mount Everest, and even deep into the ocean, thousands of miles from land and thousands of feet deep—where you won’t find tons of our trash.
In essence, we’ve totally trashed the place. We’ve pooped where we eat. If we were our own houseguest, we’d throw ourselves out!
If you’re an average American, you produce 4.4. pounds of trash every single day. In a nation of nearly 324 million people, that amounts to more than 700,000 tons of garbage produced every day—enough to fill around 60,000 garbage trucks. That is a shocking amount of waste.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, “first world” nations like the United States have started exporting our trash to developing countries for disposal, so we don’t have to see or deal with it.
These countries have few regulations or environmental protections, so dumping all of our trash on them (usually to be burned and picked through by poor people) has very grave consequence to the environment and the children living there. (See image above.)
We really, really have to do something about our catastrophic levels of waste. Now.
Here are several ideas…
Reduce, Reuse and then Recycle
The best way to reduce our trash problem is to simply consume less. Much of what we buy in the developed world we don’t really need. And since we are currently using up the resources that our grandchildren will need to live, it only makes sense that we drastically cut back on what we buy today.
The second-best approach to reducing trash is to reuse, repurpose, upcycle, give away or Freecycle things when they can no longer serve their original purpose. Anything that we can give a second or third life to will reduce the burden of trash upon the globe.
Lastly, we can recycle many things and use their raw materials in new ways. Glass, many plastics, aluminum cans, cardboard, paper, and even electronics can be taken apart, melted down and made into new things.
Recycling is really a last resort though: Even when things do get recycled, in the vast majority of cases, recycling only kicks the can down the road one generation. At some point that item will still be trash that can’t or won’t (because it costs too much) be recycled again.
Here are some ways that we can avoid creating trash in the first place. If you pay for trash collection, this will potentially save you a ton of money, too.
15 Ways to Reduce Trash
1. Do a 30-day spend-fast to learn where you are making unnecessary purchases.
2. Don’t buy beverages in cans or single serving bottles. For health’s sake, don’t buy soda or juice at all!
3. Never buy bottled water. If you don’t have access to a good well or spring, it is much better to get a good water filter and drink from the tap.