Point of No Return: Where the Garbage Goes

(Photo: RyersonClark/iStockphoto. Courtesy of Mother Nature Network)(Photo: RyersonClark/iStockphoto. Courtesy of Mother Nature Network)

After hearing about The Compact group in San Francisco – a cooperative that pledged not to buy anything new for an entire year (except for some crucial necessities like toilet paper, medicine or brake fluid) – I decided to become more conscious about what I buy and  throw away.

Immediately, I was shocked by how quickly my roommate and I filled our kitchen trash per week.  Luckily our recycling collection was quite large but, then again, that may just have been a reflection of how much paper and packaging waste we were accumulating.  Since then, I’ve been careful to eat everything I buy (no food waste), stack my produce in my reusable bag without using the plastic wrapping, and recycle everything I can (even toilet paper rolls get a ceremonial walk to the recycling bin).  But after reading the latest article on Mother Nature Network – Political Habitat: A heap of trouble – about society’s collective trash can and disconnection from where our waste really ends up, it had me wondering how we’ll be able to break the just-toss-it-in-the-trash mentality we’ve brainwashed ourselves with.

(Photo Courtesy of StoryofStuff.com)

(Photo Courtesy of StoryofStuff.com)

From nail-biting stats (we’ve tripled our garbage output since 1960) to sad truths about where a large portion of our recycling really goes for dismantling (economic sacrifice zones” overseas filled with child laborers), the article is a sobering look at our over-capacity landfills.

And if you’d like a more visual/cartoonish explanation of what happens to our products once they’re thrown away and how companies actually engineer goods to end up in the trash after XX amount of time, watch Anne Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff.”  It’s insightful, funny and certainly enlightening.

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