Do you know how many pounds of waste you generate in a year? According to the EPA in 2013, you probably settle along the baseline of 4.40 pounds per day, generating about 1,606 pounds of waste per year. Of that number, you probably recycle about one-third of your total waste output. But what does this really mean for the sustainability of your lifestyle and the world?
Impact of Waste
Waste causes detrimental environmental impacts that can negatively impact an environment for decades. Although some waste will rot, some will produce methane gas which can be explosive and contribute to global warming through the greenhouse effect. When waste is burned, gases from incineration can cause air pollution and contribute to acid rain.
Improper waste management can also cause soil contamination. When trash is dumped into a landfill, chemicals in the trash leak into the soil. Once polluted, the soil will have to be dug up from the area, as contamination can be very hard to clean.
Finally, waste can pollute our water, reaching nearby rivers and lakes. Ecosystems can be permanently damaged, hurting all plants and animals that rely on water to survive.
Being More Conscious
All these negative consequences can be avoided by being more conscious of how and what we waste. In order to have a measurable account of what we waste, you can implement the following creative solution, called “Tiny Trash.”
Instead of using large trash cans in your living space, replace these containers with a clear mason jar. Having this physical reminder to waste less will incentivize you to be careful about your consumption, as well as see what exactly you are wasting. If you must take out the trash more often because of the mason jar, this will act as an incentive to waste less.
Another way to be more sustainable about what you waste is to reevaluate everything that you currently own in order to become more minimalistic. Although it may seem counterintuitive to get rid of some of your belongings, having an updated account of your belongings will cause you to shy away from buying more unnecessary items that you may waste in the future. By knowing exactly what clothing, books, food, and furniture pieces you may have, you will be able to become more minimalistic.
Simply being more conscious about what items you throw away can have a tremendous impact on greenhouse gas emissions and the overall health of your community. When you are negligent about your trash, you waste resources, raw materials, energy, and money. By implementing creative solutions such as Tiny Trash and minimalism, you will live a healthier lifestyle that is better for the planet.
By Victoria Sansone