by: Leslie Jones

It is unbelievable how much trash Americans generate through the course of a week.  Estimates are that “1,600 pounds is the amount of trash the average American produces annually. With the garbage produced in America alone, you could form a line of filled-up garbage trucks that would reach the moon”.*  As astonishing as this number is, it’s just the tip of the iceberg since today’s fast-paced culture perpetuates the problem with readily available, pre-packaged everything!  In fact, speaking of packaging, “72 million tons of containers and packaging in 2009 ended up in the U.S. municipal solid waste stream or MSW. Packaging makes up 30 percent of America's trash — the largest portion of MSW generated”.*  Packaging....or rather over-packaging, seems to be an even more difficult problem when several types of packaging are not even recyclable by conventional means.
                            
The following are some staggering statistics about the amount of trash generated in America:*

4.4 pounds
    Trash the average American produces daily
60 percent
    Amount of trash that can be recycled
13 percent
    Amount of MSW that's actually recycled
1 billion    
           Number of plastic bags Americans use every year
30,000 tons
    Landfill waste created from plastic bags each year
Less than 1 percent
    Amount of plastic bags that are recycled
15 million
    Sheets of office paper used in the U.S. every 5 minutes. The average American uses   
           roughly the equivalent of one 100-foot-tall Douglas fir tree in paper and wood products
           each year.
100 million
    Number of trees cut down in the U.S. annually to make the paper for junk mail
9,960
    Pieces of junk mail that are printed, shipped, delivered and disposed of in the U.S.
          every 3 seconds.

We have included a longer list of jaw-dropping statistics on our website, www.wasteawaygroup.com , but the subject that is as important as our realization of just how much trash America generates is what are we able to do about it?  Luckily at Waste-Away Group, Ltd., we have solutions for you! The most important suggestion, of course, is to cut down on the amount of trash to begin with.

1.  Recycle! Recycle! Recycle!  

2.  Buy items with very little extra packaging.

3.  Take reusable shopping bags or ask for paper instead of plastic at stores.

4.  Reduce the amount of junk mail sent to you, “Ask to be removed. Write to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, N.Y. 11735. Be sure to provide your name, street address and zip code. Request that they instruct their members to remove you from their mailing lists. Once you write, you'll remain on the opt-out list for 5 years, at which time you'll have to write again. The Direct Marketing Association estimates that listing with their mail preference service will stop 75% of all national mailings. You should notice a reduction of your junk mail within 6 months”.**

5.  Use electronic data storage whenever possible and avoid making unnecessary copies or prints.

6.  Be responsible.  Be smart.

We will never be able to completely eradicate the generation of some quantity of trash, but with creative and responsible measures, we can greatly reduce its volume and impact on our world making it weighless than meets the eye.

*http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/responsible-living/stories/wasting-away-our-garbage-by-the-numbers
**http://www.lifeorganizers.com/Clutter/The-Organized-Mail-Coupons/Secrets-to-cut-down-Junk-Snail-Mail.html