Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Global Waste on Pace to Triple by 2100

Why is Trash a Problem?

Trash is becoming a larger and larger problem for us and for the environment. As we continue to waste more and more, we use more natural resources and increase pollution in our world.

About 900 million trees are cut down each year to create raw materials for American paper and paper mills. The average American uses 18 tons of paper, 23 tons of wood, 16 tons of metal, and 32 tons of organic chemicals in one lifetime. The oil from an oil change in a car can end up in oceans, sewers, and landfills, contaminating millions of gallons of water. These and other facts show us that our world cannot continue to sustain this amount of waste. Conservation and recycling need to become more frequent actions. (Clean Air Council Waste Facts and Figures, 2006) 

What Happens to Our Trash?

America accounts for over one-third of the world's waste. Most of that trash ends up in landfills. In the United States, one ton of waste per person ends up in landfills each year. Also, about seventy percent of U.S. municipal waste is buried in landfills. The Fresh Kills landfill in New York City is one of the only man-made structures visible from space! (Clean Air Council Waste Facts and Figures, 2006)Much of our garbage also is dumped into the ocean. About ten percent of all the world's plastic waste ends up in the ocean. Due to ocean currents, most of this plastic gathers in the Pacific Ocean. It also greatly affects marine life. Over a million seabirds and 100 thousand marine mammals die every year from trying to eat these plastics which they mistake for food. (Marks and Howden, 2008)

Recycling and composting are other ways to deal with trash. Both recycling and composting can decrease the use of resources, the amount of pollution in the atmosphere, and the amount of trash which would end up in landfills or the ocean. Recycling can save trees, landfill space, water, energy, oil, and greatly reduce pollution. For example, recycling an aluminum soda can saves 96% of the energy used to make a can from ore, and also decreases by about 96% the amount of air and water pollution emitted from the production of cans from ore. And 1,500 aluminum cans are recycled every second in the U.S. (Clean Air Council Waste Facts and Figures, 2006)
Even though more than thirty percent of household wastes are compostable, most of these go to landfills. Composting can greatly reduce the volume of waste sent to landfills, reduce the amount of pollution created from landfills, and is also an inexpensive way of creating natural fertilizer for plants. Despite these advantages, composting is rarely done by most families. (Clean Air Council Waste Facts and Figures, 2006)

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