pile of plastic bottles

10 Disturbing Facts That Made Me Want To Go Zero Waste

Week 0

  1. Americans make up roughly 5% of the world’s population, but generate nearly 40% of the world’s total waste.
  2. The average American produces roughly 5 pounds of garbage per day. In 2018, the US alone produced 292.4 million tons of waste.
  3. 50% of waste in the US ends up in landfills. “Landfills are not designed to break down waste, only to store it, according to the NSWMA. But garbage in a landfill does decompose, albeit slowly and in a sealed, oxygen-free environment. Because of the lack of oxygen, bacteria in the waste produce methane gas, which is highly flammable and dangerous if allowed to collect underground. It is also a potent greenhouse gas and contributes global warming.”
    Live Science
  4. Each year, Americans discard nearly 40 million tons of food, which is the single largest component taking up space inside US landfills.
    Recycle Track Systems
  5. U.S. recycling levels are currently at 21.4%. When those levels reach 75%, it will equal taking approximately 55 million cars off the road for an entire year.
  6. Only about 8% of plastic is actually recycled, while about 76 percent ends up in landfills.
  7. Some plastics, like grocery bags, can take 500 (or more) years to decompose.
    Center for Biological Diversity
  8. Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. That’s the equivalent of setting five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world.
    National Geographic
  9. Almost half of all seabird species, 22% of cetaceans, all sea turtle species, and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic found in or around their bodies.
  10. Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.
    World Health Organization

Obviously, there is A LOT of science behind climate change and global warming that this page doesn’t cover and while these facts were scary enough to make me start paying attention to my garbage output, others may need a little more convincing. There are a number of science based books and podcasts that delve deeper into every aspect of the harmful impact humans have had on planet Earth. NASA even has an entire website dedicated to the science behind global warming including cause and effect. I implore you to do your own research and find out how devastating the climate crisis really is.

Kicking Off My Tiny Waste Resolution →