How is Your Waste Doing?

What is your relationship with waste? Do you think you do not have any? Well, think again and then read on.

The United Nations Environment Programme UNEP has published a report on waste. It is a visual reminder of how much we produce.

The report nicely points out “the word ‘waste’ is related to the way we behave in the context of the consumer society”: we use and then we throw away – like wasting time. Do you know how many kilograms of waste are produced per person per day in your country? Check out this graph to find out – though it only works if your country actually reports the numbers. Do you think you are average for your country?

Waste is produced in all phases of the production process, from the raw materials to the production, distribution, consumption and even recycling. Even if as “consumers, our relationship to a product happens only during a short phase of its existence.”, there is actually a lot of hidden waste behind it. Have you ever thought about reducing the waste you produce?

Again you can check your country – and this time most of them are available – for how many organic water pollutants are getting into our environment per day. The comission who wrote the report says we “often forget about the possible long-term effects of harmful production practices.” – be it directly for our health or indirectly through pollution of the environment. Do you know what happens when waste ends up in our oceans?

How much time does it takes for a plastic bag, a battery, a leather shoe or a cigarette butt to biodegrade, meaning to disappear? Here is the answer. Compare it to the inside of an average Swiss rubbish bag. You can also see which OECD countries produce more paper, plastic, glass or organic waste. The report points very importantly: “Although our garbage bins represent only a small part of the total waste generated, it is an important part: the one in which everyone can take action.”

Is your waste collected in front of your house? You are one of the lucky few. Even in the OECD countries not everybody is served by the municipal waste service. Find more about your waste in the report.

I found the report through a link on the Karmacrane blog, thank you for the inspiration!

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2 thoughts on “How is Your Waste Doing?

  1. Great post!

    Our family of five produces roughly one 13 gallon bag of trash per month, not including recyclables. I’m considering the efficacy of incinerating it vs. sending it to the landfill.

    Would the toxic fumes resulting from burning it be worse than allowing toxic chemicals to leach slowly into the ground, eventually making its way into our water sources?

    As much as we try to avoid non-recyclable plastics, we can’t seem to entirely eliminate them. But we’re trying.

    • Hey Kenny, it’s so cool to know how much waste you produce. That’s how you can start to reduce it – I definitely want to keep track of it more myself.

      I have not thought about the incinerating possibility, let me know if you have come to a conclusion.

      Fighting plastic is hard but I come to see it as some kind of sport :D Let’s keep trying.

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