Recession bright spot: We’re creating less trash

img_1209I enjoy reading positive news stories about our current recession. The eternal optimist in me seeks out these stories. Instead of gloom and doom stories, I love to read about the silver lining, the upside, the bright spots. So you can imagine my delight when I read the following in the Philadelphia Inquirer:


For the second year in a row, the amount of waste generated in the United States has gone down, according to a new report from the consulting firm Waste Business Journal. The decline in 2007 – from 513 million tons to 508 million – was the first in more than 20 years, said James Thompson, the firm’s president. In 2008, the tally fell further, to 505 million tons. (From the article entitled One result of the recession: Less trash)

Wow! This is a definite upside to our current economic malaise. Apparently these results are not related to fastidious recycling, but rather consumers throwing less into their trash cans. Many Americans are feeling pinched, earning less money, consuming less, and as a result are generating less trash. This is fantastic news – however, I’d be more excited if the dip in trash production was due to Americans choosing to consume less, instead of being forced to consume less due to less income.

What happens when the economy improves? Will Americans go back to business as usual? Can we create less trash even in the face of economic expansion? I hope so.

As in recessionary times, I hope we continually question our purchases and prevent trash by buying less. We need to change our have-it-now, chuck-it-tomorrow society. OK, I’ll get off my soap box now. :)

I recently made a small change that has decreased my trash output by at least 50%. The change? I recycle all my food scraps. In Seattle you can put food scraps into your yard waste bin. If this isn’t an option for you, consider composting your food scraps. That’s it. Now my trash is physically lighter, doesn’t smell, and I only need to put my trash at curb every three weeks. One change has made a significant difference in my trash output.

What changes have you made (or hope to make) to create less trash? Share your thoughts.

Economic downturn turns condom sales up


2 thoughts on “Recession bright spot: We’re creating less trash

  1. Hey Kate-
    This is great news indeed.
    When I click on “recycle”- I assume to get to an earlier post of yours, it doesn’t work.
    Maybe an error on my computer, but just wanted to let you know so you could double-check.

  2. Reusing grocery bags is a great idea, or using the reusable kind. Also, reusing sandwich plastic baggies for other lunches is good too.
    I take my plastic wrappings back to the dry cleaners, so they can reuse them on my clothes.
    What about reading the news online instead of getting the paper delivered?

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