Our Garbage, Ourselves

Saturday, March 14, 2009

-- From 1960 to 2007, the amount of stuff that Americans threw away nearly doubled, from 2.7 pounds a person daily to 4.6, according to the EPA.

-- In 2007, the EPA says, Americans produced 254.1 million tons of household trash. Of that, by weight:

Paper and paperboard (packaging): 32.7 percent

Yard trimmings: 12.8 percent

Food scraps: 12.5 percent

Plastics: 12.1 percent

Metals: 8.2 percent

Rubber, leather and textiles: 7.6 percent

Wood: 5.6 percent

Glass: 5.3 percent

Other: 3.2 percent

-- 63.3 million tons of trash was recycled; 21.7 million tons composted; 31.9 million tons burned. The rest, 137.2 million tons, wound up in landfills.

-- There are 1,794 landfills in the United States, down from 20,000 in the early 1970s. The EPA estimates that they will be full in 20 years.

-- Between Thanksgiving and the new year, environmentalists say, Americans typically throw away as much as 5 million extra tons of trash, thought to be mainly wrapping paper and shopping bags.

-- Freecycle D.C. has seen requests for items such as expired meat for people who can't afford pet food and a boom in posts offering free furniture from homes that have gone into foreclosure.

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