25 Fun Facts About Garbage

Did you know that buttons were once made from bones? Here are some more fun facts about recycling and the waste we make:

1. A ¼ inch crack under your front door will waste as much energy as a 2” X 2” hole in your wall.

2. Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours — or the equivalent of a half a gallon of gasoline.

3. On average, a baby will go through 6000 disposable diapers before they are potty trained. Luckily, a British company called Knowaste has developed a process for recycling used diapers.

4. Motor oil never wears out, it just gets dirty. Old oil can be recycled, re-refined and used again.

5. Every year we make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap the state of Texas.

6. There is a nonprofit company in Japan that recycles old dentures and donates the proceeds to UNICEF.

7. During World War 1, enough metal was salvaged from corset stays to build two warships.

8. It takes 80-100 years for an aluminum can to decompose (break down) in a landfill.

9. Glass takes over 1,000,000 (one million) years to decompose in a landfill.

10. Old crayons don’t decompose but you can send your unused colors into Crazy Crayons to have them recycled into new!

11. Every year nearly 900,000,000 trees are cut down to provide raw materials for American paper and pulp mills.

12. Every year we generate around 14 million tons of food waste, which is 106 pounds of food waste per person. 570,000 tons of this is composted for a 4.1% recovery rate. The rest, or 13.4 million tons is incinerated or landfilled and occupies 6.3 million cubic yards of landfilled MSW.

13. Americans throw away about 28 billion bottles and jars every year.

14. Americans make more than 200 million tons of garbage each year, enough to fill Bush Stadium from top to bottom twice a day!

15. It takes a 15-year-old tree to produce 700 grocery bags.

16. Disposable diapers last centuries in landfills. An average baby will go through 8,000 of them!

17. Recycling aluminum cans saves 95% of the energy used to make alum cans from new material.

18. Americans throw away 25,000,000 plastic bottles every hour.

19. If every American recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we could save about 25 million trees each year.

20. Used condoms were recycled into hair bands in Southern China. They sold quite well, although several physicians voiced concerns about potential hygiene problems.

21. It is more likely that Americans will recycle than vote.

22. Burying coffins also means that 90,272 tons of steel, 2,700 tons of copper and bronze, and over 30 million feet of hard wood covered in toxic laminates are also buried per year. However, a British company called “Ecopod” offers coffins made from 100% recycled paper.

23. The United States makes up only 4% of the world’s population, yet it is the number one producer of garbage. In 2006, Americans generated more than 250 million tons of garbage. Canada produces 31 million tons of garbage per year.

24. Before the twentieth century, most Americans and Europeans practiced habits of reuse and recycling that prevailed in agricultural communities. For example, in the Middle Ages, tanners would often collect urine to use in tanning animal skins or making gunpowder.

25. Bones were often recycled into common household items such as buttons, glue, and paper.