Why Americans Started to Produce So Much Waste

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Why Americans Started to Produce So Much Waste

Americans are producing more and more waste as the years go on.
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Why do Americans produce so much waste? @Greenopolis investigates. http://3bl.me/nvsp4d
Monday, April 12, 2010 - 11:08am


According to the book Living Green: The Missing Manual - In 1905 the average person in New York City produced 92 pounds of trash per year. By 2005 that number increased to 1,242 pounds.

What caused this number to increase by 1250%?

Here are some reasons why American have been producing so much waste

Trash Collection
1905 is when trash started to be collected in New York City. Disease and dirty streets (mostly because of horse manure that was left on the streets) led to citizens demanding that cities take action. They did and started to collect and dispose of waste.

This is the perfect example of, "Out of sight. Out of mind." Waste is now removed from the public eye and being disposed of for people. More is generated because it isn't being seen and is no longer the problem of the individual. Trash goes to a mystical place and it just goes away.

World War II
How could war contribute to the continual amount of trash produced? In 1941, the US entered into the war. The rationing of such materials as wood and metal forced an increase on the reliance of synthetic materials such as plastics.

Less than 20 years later, low density polyethylene film, developed during wartime, replaced cellophane as the favorite food wrap by 1960.

The package and storing industry took great strides during the war in methods and materials for food shipment. Lots of plastic packaging and materials were used to help package, ship and preserve the foods. This continued after the war ended.

TV Dinners and Convenience Foods
During the 1950s so-called "convenience foods" rose in popularity. They included foods that were frozen, canned, dried, boxed, TV dinners, etc.

They were and still are packaged in mostly single-use materials, usually plastics, that are immediately tossed into the trash after opening.

These definitely aren't the only reasons that the amount of waste generated by Americans has increased so dramatically in the past 100 years, but they are contributing factors.

What's your thoughts?

If you had to keep all of your trash on your property or had to dispose of it on your own, would you still use the disposable dishes or use so many napkins?

What happens when sanitation skips a day? Does your trash get backed up?

What are some creative ways that you've been able to reduce the amount of trash that you generate?

Product Policy Institute: History of Waste
ASTC.org: Garbage Timeline 

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Keywords: Americans | Trash | United States | Waste | World War II | convenience food