Americans have a lifestyle that is the envy of the world, or so Americans like to think. A prominent feature of our lifestyle is that we throw away a lot of stuff. OK, some of us recycle, but before we pat ourselves on the back for our full-to-the-brim recycling bins, recall that recycling, while ranking above “throw it out”, ranks below “reduce” and “reuse”. Recycling is not the solution to our trash problem.
Worse, we have almost no awareness as consumers of the waste that goes into manufacturing of consumer products. When you go to the store, do you carry along some notion of the (invisible) mound of trash that lies behind the manufacture of your Levis, your lab notebook, your iPhone, your hummus and pita bread?
If you’d like to know more about trash problems, read some of the short articles in Mother Jones’ magazine’s special report, Waste Not, Want Not (May 2009).