Are you aware that waste volumes are expected to grow from 1.3 billion tons to 2.2 billion tons by 2025? Or, that many countries around the world simply can’t maintain the amount of waste being produced? Every single person on our planet creates some form of municipal waste. Whether it is food, electronic, paper or plastic – waste has become a major environmental issue. By learning more about the impact of waste on our planet, we can make mindful decisions that create positive impacts for our planet.
The Great Waste Debate:
Waste is classified as any substance which is discarded after primary use, or is defective or unwanted. The current climate of over consumption has produced a substantial increase in the amount of waste produced. Excess waste impairs public health, pollutes the environment, and threatens ecosystems. Pollution from waste runs into rivers – seeping into groundwater, lakes, and oceans – causing acidification. Burning trash releases toxic chemicals into the atmosphere causing air pollution and acid rain. Let’s take a look at some additional facts on the impacts of waste on the environment.
- The average person generates over 4.6 pounds of waste every day and about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year.
- The US generates more municipal solid waste per person on a daily basis than any other country.
- In the US, about 200 billion dollars a year are spent on solid waste management.
- More than 50% of the world’s population do not have access to proper waste management.
- Unregulated or illegal dumpsites serve about 4 billion people and hold more than 40% of the waste worldwide.
- Municipal waste landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the US – accounting for approximately 16% of total methane emissions.
- Around 1/10th of solid waste in the US is recycled annually.
- The US recycling rate is around 34.5%. If we’re able to get the rate to 75%, the effect would be equivalent to removing 50 million passenger cars from US roads.
How can I make an impact:
Action 1: Global Goodness
- Know your trash. By informing yourself about what types of products you are throwing away, you can recycle and dispose of it properly. Composting, upcycling, and recycling are just a few ways to reduce waste.
- Learn how to recycle properly. By researching the proper recycling techniques you can prevent your recycling from being thrown out. For more tips on recycling, check out number 25 of our 100+ Ways To Heal The Planet on Recycling Consciously.
- Compost your food. By simply composting your food waste, you can prevent methane from being released into the atmosphere when food is thrown into landfills.
Action 2: Planet Protector
- All of Action 1
- Reduce your consumption. It is simple – the less we consume – the less waste we produce.
- Support companies that are implementing sustainable practices such as reduced and recyclable packaging.
- Reusable containers are a great alternative to store food and other goods. Work toward reducing your dependency on plastic, from plastic bags to plastic cups, plastics can take a thousand years to break down. Look for eco-friendly alternatives such as glass, wood, or bamboo.
Action 3: Earth Angel
- All of Action 1 & 2
- Gather friends and family to cleanup your community. When litter is present it pollutes the soil, water, and air we breathe. Take pride in your community by doing your part to keep it clean.
- Ask your local government to provide more recycling receptacles. People polled stated they would recycle more if bins were available.
- Lobby congress for improved waste management regulations. Improved regulations can create more recycling, as well as improve accountability of commercial waste production.