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Waste Footprint: Introduction

| Thursday December 13th, 2007 | 0 Comments

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Do you ever wonder, is my garbage can the problem or am I? Say you had to go without your canister of the wasted and undesirables, what would you do without one? It would be fair to say that for most Americans the answer would be panic!! The average Jack and Jill trashes 4.5 pounds of stuff every day, just imagine how quickly the heaps of garbage would pile up.
Minus the increasing trend to recyle our waste nationally and add up the junk from our country’s 1654 landfills and you still get roughly 133 million tons each year. That figure is equivalent to the dismantiling and disposing of the Empire State Building every day. The waste footprint for people includes far more than the landfill space they contribute to.


Hazardous waste whether it be mobile phones or motor oil are among the vast array of toxic items that poison land and even seep into our water sources. Let us not forget the weekly garbage pickup takes with it the limited resources we seem so keen to consume such as plastics, wood and paper that we are foolish to throw away so readily. For all those do-gooders who recyle glass bottles, know this, you are still losing 70% of the energy that went into manufacturing it in the first place. How inefficient and sad are the systems and unrestricted wasteful practices that we encourage?
For most of us the critical moment comes if and when we take pause dangling our disposables over the garbage can and realize that the moment for reducing our footprint has already passed. The decision to be a wasteful contributor was already made when we bought the anti-eco product.
By now, most of know that garbage is not what rests within our trash bags and containers rather, it is everything that first went into it. This includes: raw materials, water, energy, and all of the waste that was produced during the life cycle of a product from manufacture to delivery. Waste life-cycle assessment weighs these factors plus the cost of landfilling or recycling whatever is left over after consumption or use. This is the fair and true assessment of just how lightly a product treads on the waste scale.
By the numbers, consumer packing accounts for a whopping 50 percent of municipal waste by volume but a detailed life-cycle assessment concluded that more than 95 percent of its environmental cost occurs in the manufacturing process. This is simply shameful given the bright minds and technologies that exist today. The corporate greed and fickle consumer demands have given way to turning a blind eye to the destruction we bare down upon our finite planet. The remedies will only begin to form when consumers first consider where garbage comes from and not simply where it is going.


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