The average American tosses 4.4 pounds of trash every single day. It may not seem all that astonishing on the surface, but with 323.7 million people living in the United States, that is roughly 728,000 tons of daily garbage – enough to fill 63,000 garbage trucks.
That is 22 billion plastic bottles every year. Enough office paper to construct a 12-foot-high wall from Los Angeles to Manhattan. It is 300 laps around the equator in paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons. It is 500 disposable cups per average American worker – cups that will still be sitting in the landfill five centuries from now.
Your 4.4 pounds of daily trash is approximately the weight of a modest-sized pumpkin that you would carve on Halloween. Add up all those “pumpkins” over the seasons and they come in at 1,606 pounds – or the size of your average cow. But if you pack that trash into cubed feet, you’re looking at the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The waste tally for a family of four is even grimmer. That yearly haul weighs as much as an Asian elephant and stacks up to the height of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Think that’s bad? The annual weight of trash for the entire country equals 254 million tons, or 1.2 million blue whales, and would reach the moon and back 25 times, a journey of 11,534,090 miles.
Approximately half of the 254 million tons of yearly waste will meet its fate in one of the more than 2,000 active landfills across the country – and you probably live, work or socialize closer to one than you may think. Kent County has one operating municipal solid waste (type II) landfill. South Kent Landfill opened in 1982 in Byron Center, MI and is owned and operated by Kent County.
Now that we’ve painted a grim picture, check out what you can do to help us change this for West Michigan!