Reduce, reuse and recycle is the mantra we should all be preaching. If anyone has any doubt that we’re the trashiest people on earth, read – or just browse through – Edward Humes’ latest book. In Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash he lays out the statistics to document our wastefulness and trashiness.
On average, each American produces 7.1 pounds of trash per day and 102 tons during a life time. That’s more than any other culture on earth; actually 50 times what our Danish counterparts produce and nearly three times as much as the average Japanese citizen. And lo and behold, we even export trash! The Chinese (of course it would be them!) buy the scrap paper and metal we throw out, make products out of it and sell those things back to us at a profit, which we then turn again into trash. What a tangled web.
“If you could sit down with a year in the life of your waste bins dumped on your front lawn, you’d be shocked by the size of the mound: 1.3 tons, on average,” Humes said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “The average American community spends more on waste management than fire protection, libraries, textbooks, and parks and recreation.”
He also believes things are much worse than Environmental Protection Agency official’s statistics suggest. “The EPA publishes a yearly ‘trash bible’ of municipal waste statistics using an outdated method that vastly underestimates our waste and overestimates our recycling,” he added.
Speaking of recycling, I hope that service has been established in Jackson and many other cities throughout the state. When I moved from Kristen Drive in Northeast Jackson to Gulfport in 1993, there was no curbside recycling in the Capital City. I was such a believer in recycling that I sorted my own and hauled it to bins at a nearby fire station every two weeks. Imagine what a great surprise to find curbside recycling already established in Gulfport AND the unincorporated areas of Harrison County in 1993. It’s certainly not just about towns and cities.
Humes has the credentials to be credible. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the author of numerous nonfiction books on a wide range of subjects. Many readers may remember that he wrote Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia, a story about the Biloxi murders of Vincent and Margaret Sherry.