Updated: Aug 13, 2020
It is easy to throw your trash or recycling away and forget about where it goes. If we put more thought into the impacts of our actions, we will have a greater understanding of how our waste is leaving an impact on our environment. Want to begin your deeper understanding of waste right now? Awesome. We have created a list below of 10 facts you may not have known about waste.
1. Every year we dump 2.12 billion tons of waste. What does 2.12 billion tons look like? That would be equivalent to lining up waste trucks and going around the earth 24 times.
2. Did you know that developed countries tend to sell their toxic and hazardous waste to underdeveloped countries? This practice is known as the global waste trade. By having richer countries cheaply get rid of their toxic waste by exploiting poorer countries is also referred to as toxic colonialism.
3. Ever think about the waste produced during clothing production? The waste rate for clothing fabric is 15%.
4. "Consumers are regarded as the main culprit for throwing away their used clothing, as only 15 percent of consumer-used clothing is recycled, whereas more than 75 percent of pre-use clothing is recycled by the manufacturers."
5. "More than 70 percent of the world's population uses secondhand clothing. About 50 percent of collected shoes and clothing is used as secondhand products. Meanwhile, 20 percent is used to produce polishing and cleaning cloths for various industrial purposes, and 26 percent is recycled for applications such as fiber for insulation products, upholstery, fiberboard, and mattresses."
6. 80 billion pounds of food is thrown away each year in the US. This is equivalent to 1000 Empire State Buildings.
7. Did you know that annually, over 76 billion pounds of food ends up in the landfill from everyday household trash? This ends up representing 22% of municipal solid waste found in landfills.
8. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), it is estimated that annually, $161 billion is wasted due to food loss by retailers and consumers.
9. This year, a total of 28, 591, 886 tons of electronic waste were thrown out.
10. In 2017, 35,370 tons of plastic was generated, 2,960 tons was recycled, and 26,820 was put in a landfill.
Bonus: Did you know that landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States?
As you can tell, waste is a huge issue that isn't often talked about. That's why, at Waste Free Earth, we believe it is important to continue to think about waste in a broader sense, and work towards zero-waste behaviors whenever we have the ability to do so. If you are interested in learning more about how we incorporate zero-waste behaviors within organizations, take a look at our services here.
By Kate Hoffman