We don't have to live with our garbage, which is one of the best things about the modern sanitation system. The drawback of the modern sanitation system is that it frees us from living around trash. In my rebellious youth, I used to (half-jokingly) argue that littering ought to be encouraged so that everyone could see how much garbage we produce—if we had to live with it, we'd indeed create less, right? However, because of our excellent sanitation, we can build an endless amount of garbage, which is then magically removed to make room for new litter. That's development! (I realize that maintaining good sanitation is necessary to combat disease and squalor, but you get my point.)
We all know there's a lot of trash going on around here, I'm pretty sure of that. The figures, however, really drive the point home. To do that, SaveOnEnergy put together a report examining landfills and their statistics. 1 Here are a few sobering facts that had me thinking, "Wow, littering should be promoted!" (Actually, don't kill me in the comments; I promise.)
In any case, look.
The daily average amount of trash produced by each American is 4.4 pounds. It would be the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa if packed in cubed feet.
The annual trash production of Americans is 254 million tons.
Every year, 22 billion plastic bottles are discarded.