The average human being produces about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year. Multiply that by the several billion people who inhabit the planet, and you’ve got a big problem.
Most of the waste we produce ends up in landfills and/or ultimately in the ocean. Plastic is one of the biggest problems, as it never fully degrades. This ensures that the waste and byproducts of modern civilization will remain on the planet long after humans are gone.
Dumping waste somewhere out of sight does not fully deal with and reconcile the problem. Recycling helps, as it ensures that waste is turned into new items, rendering the production of new materials unnecessary.
We can also make an impact on our personal waste generation simply by observing our own actions and adjusting them accordingly. Using reusable water bottles instead of purchasing bottled water; opting for cloth shopping bags instead of plastic bags when grocery shopping; taking your lunch to school rather than eating out–all of these things make a difference in the long run.
There’s also a whole field of science/technology concerned with turning waste byproducts into a source of clean, renewable energy. If sufficient technology were developed to turn solid waste into energy on a global scale, almost all of our waste-related problems would surely disappear. Sadly, this day has yet to come.
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