We're working to build long-term support for a zero waste country by starting on campus and in our communities, putting the solutions in place and educating students about how we can reduce, reuse and recycle.
We're trashing the planet, literally. From the process of extracting resources to producing the endless array of products on store shelves to throwing away the items we don't want anymore, Americans produce an amazing amount of waste with real consequences for our health, environment and economy.
In 2007, we threw out 570 billion pounds of solid waste. That is roughly 4.6 pounds of waste per person per day. The U.S. accounts for 30% of the total waste generated world-wide. Worse, the volume is nearly double what it was in 1960.
Our waste is huge and increasing because our economy is setup as a throw-away system. Companies that make the products we buy aren't responsible for the costs of disposing them once they're no longer usable. That leads to a situation where it's more profitable to produce an endless stream of single or few use products—from bottles we can't refill to mops that can only clean up once. It also means that there's no disincentive to creating products that are toxic or can't be broken down like most televisions and cell phones. Finally, there is no reason to cut down on the excessive amount of packaging used to market products on store shelves.
Instead of focusing on managing trash, we need to figure out how to avoid waste in the first place and recycle or re-use the resources in our current waste stream. This approach, known as zero waste, seeks to create a closed loop.
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