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Stuff U.S. consumers throw away (as in the garbage can):*

  • Enough aluminum to rebuild the country's entire commercial airline fleet every 3 months.
  • Enough tires each year to encircle the planet almost 3 times.
  • About 2 billion disposable diapers per year, 19 million computers, and 8 million televisions sets each year.
  • About 2.5 million nonreturnable plastic bottles every hour.
  • Enough office paper to build a 3.5 meter(11 foot) high wall from New York City to San Francisco, CA.
  • Some 186 billion pieces of junk mail (an average of 675 per American) each year, about 45% of which is thrown in the trash unopened.

Where does all of this go? In the junk yard.

*From "Living in the Environment" 12th Ed, by G. Tyler Miller, Jr. Note: I'm going to make a lot of references from this book, which I recommend as a good book.



The Infinite Landfill

A landfill that is capable of storing infinite number of items... well, that's how we think of it. To create a landfill, land is needed. So what to do? Start digging. Landfills are huge pits dug into the ground to store all the waste consumers throw away. Once it gets filled to the top, then it is covered and disguised like it was never there. This is one of many methods how waste is stored.

It Makes Good Firewood, too

Another method to get rid of waste is to send the trash to the incinerator. Trash is brought to the incinerator where it is burned. The only advantage to this is that it doesn't fill up space. Though, it creates air pollution and is very costly(*by the way, I was kidding about it makes good firewood).

Export is good, no?

Some companies will export waste legally or illegally. The fee can be free, or costly. Countries receiving the trash will except the waste, only for a huge amount of money. Sometimes, trash is sent drifting away in the ocean. Waste from the nuclear power plants produce low-level radioactive waste and stored in steel drums. The UK and Pakistan dispose them in the ocean, the US stopped this in the 1970's. Research is being done to take waste into space.

What are they teaching us?

Is schools really reaching students about dangers of waste and the ways recycling can really help. Environmental science should be a required course to graduate from high school. Why should it not? Even though, it is taught in Biology class, it's only a small fraction of the class, only covering little parts, missing the big picture. It's time for people to educate themselves and make a discipline to take part in reducing waste.

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