my mama is always on the lookout for interesting articles in her daily paper that she thinks i might find blogworthy. very nice of her, since we no longer take the paper (much to our paper-fetchin' dog's dismay). i thought i'd post about the article she handed me today--recession can be seen in landfills. apparently, our sucky economy actually means good things for our landfills. here's why:
consumers have less disposable cash and less access to credit, and therefore buy less stuff that contributes to landfill waste via packaging. packaging makes up roughly 1/3 of landfill waste--which means that america's recent thriftiness correlates directly with the amount of trash we produce. if we aren't out emptying our pockets for new things, there's less packaging to deal with.
people are fixing rather than buying new. i, myself, am included in this category. remember awhile back when i said my laptop was on the fritz? well, it still is. do i have a new one yet? no. i've found a way to make my old one work--the only caveat is that it can NEVER turn off. i have to leave it in standby mode when i'm not using it--otherwise much turmoil and clacking ensues in the inner depths of what i can only guess is my hard drive. the sound on this thing? no longer. but hey, i'm writing this blog, right? which means i am getting by. along with many other people, apparently, who are either doing without, making due, or paying for repairs on broken items. which means that there are no new items, so the old ones get to stay instead of getting tossed. cars, appliances and computers are the biggest fix it items.
donating is cool again. since we're all in this together, we're thinking about those less fortunate. sites like freecycle.com has 70,000 people per week trading and giving away their goods. "freecycle d.c. has seen requests for items such as expired meat for people who can't afford pet food and a boom in posts offering free furniture from homes that have gone into foreclosure."
we're eating out less. from fast food wrappers to take-out boxes to starbucks cups (who can afford a $4 latte now???), garbage adds up quickly. bringing leftovers for lunch and brewing coffee at home makes a big impact as far as our daily trash is concerned--which, by the way, was estimated at 4.6 pounds per person in 2007. seriously? i feel like i don't even make that in a week! (that number, multiplied per capita = 254.1 million tons of trash put into american landfills in 2007.)
people are letting their yards go. a tighter wallet = less cash for paying for yard maintenance. the result is less clippings going into landfills.
the only real dark spot in this trend (besides the fact that, you know, the economy has tanked) is that garbage men are facing furloughs and unemployment due to the trash decline.
sorry i can't link to the article itself (which originally appeared in the washington post), but googling "recession can be seen in landfills" will bring up similar articles from other newspapers. it's certainly an interesting sign of the times!
oh, and some quick interesting tidbits taken directly from the article--
there are 1,794 landfills in the u.s., down from 2,000 in the early 1970's. the environmental protection agency estimates that they will be full in 20 years. hmmm. lucy will be 21. i will be 48.
100 million cellphones wind up in the landfills each year. hmmm. has nobody heard of e-cycling? who throws a cellphone in the garbage?
between thanksgiving and the new year, environmentalists say that americans typically throw away as much as 5 million extra tons of trash, thought to be mainly wrapping paper and shopping bags. hmmm. exactly why i should get started on handmade holiday 2009.