To waste or not to waste would seem like an easy question, but in our country that has over 2,000, landfills it really makes you wonder if we are a nation of excess. Excess isn’t solely defined by what we just throw away. It may be some old clothes that one never wears or perhaps one perfectly good cell phone that was discarded because it was time for an upgrade. The United States is full of excess that could be severely reduced. With waste comes three major topics: waste in general, the landfill, it’s stored in, and the effect it has on the environment. Each of these topics plays a pivotal role in how we as a nation deal with our excess.
Waste comes in all shapes, sizes, and smells. Waste can be anything from a wedge of cheese to a motherboard from a computer. With each item that is being thrown out the question that one needs to ask is, did that need to be thrown away? The biggest form of waste comes from food. Research showed that about 40% of all groceries and restaurant food go uneaten. Now I can admit that there have been times that I don’t finish all of my food at a restaurant. In fact, one time I didn’t even eat one bite of my food. I even had the option of taking it home in a box, but I opted to not do that since nachos don’t taste very good the next day. At the time I wasn’t thinking about how I was wasting it, but I do now.
In America today we waste a lot of materials that can be recycled and re used. Most metals can be melted down and reused again. Almost all plastics today are designed to be recyclable. Wood can be recycled or it can even be used to make a fire. Food waste can be given to the homeless instead of thrown out. What if instead of taking your unwanted wood to the dump you give it to a homeless man to help him keep warm at night. While you’re at it give them some of your food that you were going to through away due to it be one day passed expiration. All these wasted materials can be drastically reduced if people were to stop wasting.
Lynn Landes founded and directs the environmental organization known as Zero Waste America. Their main goal is to eliminate waste and pollution by the means of legislation and reform and changing practices. She states in her report that “In 1970, Congress passed legislation establishing the National Environmental Policy to ‘enhance the quality of renewable resources and approach the maximum attainable recycling of depletable resources’” (Lynn Landes). She also says “The United States is sinking under a ‘river of waste.’ Zero Waste America (ZWA) estimates that in 1997, Americans will dispose of more than 1.2 billion tons of domestic and imported waste. That amounts to approximately 5 tons of waste disposed for every person in the country. The cost to public health and natural resources is incalculable.” (Lynn Landes). That’s insane to think I wasted 5 tons of waste in 1997. It appears like the legislation that Congress passed is not working out too well.
Who’s to say that landfills aren’t...