I was catching up on some reading the other day and came across a very interesting visual from www.plentymag.com. They used a picture of a trash can to highlight the statistics on the amount of trash we produce every year. That stats:
• 236 million tons of trash a year. 1,640 pounds of waste per person, per year
• 35% of trash is paper
• 12% plastics
• 3.6% furniture and furnishings
• 3.1% clothing and footwear
• 1.2% consumer electronics
**Sources: Jan.2007 issue of Plenty Magazine and EPA http://www.epa.gov/msw/facts.htm
It got me thinking about a documentary short called Recycled Life (www.recycledlifedoc.com) I had recently seen at the Sonoma film festival about the thousands of families living in Central America’s largest garbage dump in Guatemala City. The movie is heart wrenching because of the generations who have made their home and living sorting through the trash that people throw away.
As Americans, we seem to think that we have the land mass and thus the right to dump whatever we want into it. Well, there are plenty of examples as to why that thinking is shortsighted and downright idiotic. Were we a smaller country we might have the same issues that were highlighted in Recycled Life. Frankly, if we continue to produce the amount of waste that the EPA reports, we too will have a similar crisis as many other countries are dealing with today.
Conservation, recycling and economical use of materials is the answer. It’s not hard to figure out. Every single person plays a role. A friend of mine who is a senior executive at Georgia Pacific told me of a group of some of the larger retailers who have formed a group to institute changes in the amount of packaging that is produced. I applaud their efforts and look forward to what they come up with.
I was aghast at some packaging offenders by green companies. I’ve already talked about DriTac (see A Cautionary Tale on April 10) in an earlier post; the adhesive came packages as if it were Faberge eggs. I’m disappointed by various CFL bulbs that are secured in plastic so that it takes a good 3-4 minutes to get them open. There’s got to be a better way!
On the plus side, I just received a “green” PC from the folks at Zonbu (www.zonbu.com) and the first thing I noted was the sensible packaging. It arrived in perfect condition and the packaging was cardboard as you can see from the photo. More later on this interesting approach to reducing the amount of waste and energy use from consumer electronics.