Every day millions of tons of reusable material is disposed of. According to the EPA, Americans alone produce about 250 million tons of waste. The good news is that per person waste is on downward trend, decreasing from a high of 4.72 lbs per day in 2000 to 4.43 lbs in 2010, a value not seen since the 1980's. The bad news is the per person reduction in waste doesn't make up for population growth, so we currently produce more trash than ever.
Our trash cans don't need to be full. Over 30% of our waste is just the packaging wrapped around the objects we actually want to consume. Another 21% is non-durable goods designed to be used once or a few times and then thrown away.
There's a better way. In the coming weeks we will look at how we might reduce and reuse our way to an emptier waste basket. From most tossed to least we will examine paper, plastics, metal, textiles rubber and leather, wood and glass.
For now, some simple ways we can all make a difference. When eating out, eat what you order. If you must take leftovers, bring your own reusable containers. Buy out of the bulk bins at the grocery store. Bring your own coffee cup to the espresso stand. Purchase items meant to be reused, like cloth diapers, cloth napkins and cloth towels instead of paper.
Repair durable goods when you can. Consolidate your electronics. Together we can make a difference.
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