The Environmental Benefits of Taking Out the Trash [INFOGRAPHIC]
Did you know that North America alone produces half of the world’s garbage? Americans have been known to “talk a lot of trash” and now we might know why. If we stacked up all the trash we create bumper to bumper in garbage trucks, by the end of one year they would stretch halfway to the moon! This is because we fill 70,000 dumpsters’ worth of trash each day.
On average, each North American produces 250 kg of paper waste each year. If that paper were recycled it would save about 4.6 regular-sized trees per person. And for each ton of paper we recycle, it saves the energy equivalent of 165 gallons of gasoline, 15 to 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, and nearly half a year’s worth of electricity for the average North American household.
Another alarming statistic is that we use about 1 million plastic bags each minute. These stains to Mother Earth cost $30 per ton to recycle, $50 to send to a landfill, and nearly $70 to incinerate. Besides waste production, though, there are other reasons to use less plastic. A nasty chemical found in plastic wrap, toys, and equipment called Phthalatis is known to interfere with normal human hormone functions.
Environmental Benefits and Preventive Measures
What kind of preventive measures can we take to produce less waste? First, more industries should be encouraged to recycle using procurement techniques to make products from recycled materials. It would also help to allow food scraps, yard trimmings, and other organic materials to decompose under controlled conditions into useful, rich, soil-like compost.
Taking these steps today will provide not only environmental benefits but also economic and health gains for all. Improper garbage disposal can have detrimental effects on our environment and contaminate our community’s soil, air, and water supplies. Also, allowing garbage to pile up is a health hazard attracting infestations of disease-carrying rodents and insects, not to mention a less than aesthetic look for your home.
So the next time you order takeout, tell the restaurant to hold the plasticware. And when you go grocery shopping, bring your own reusable bag. Living a green lifestyle, eating healthy foods, and breathing clean air saves the country money in healthcare costs and just might save a few years of your life too!