Being someone who is very committed to sustainability, my waste and recycling stream is minimal but I decided to measure my garbage and recycling output to see how well I am doing. Before I take the bins to the curb I weigh them and subtract the weight of the container to get the net weight and enter it into a spreadsheet from which I can extract this chart:
|chart will be updated weekly throughout the year|
Throughout the winter my I recycle less paper and cardboard because I use those materials as kindling for my 2 wood stoves, so my numbers are a bit low to start with. Most of what ends up in the garbage is food packaging and some office waste.
Occasionally I dispose of some broken piece of equipment, but I usually strip out any parts that I can use before it goes in the garbage. Larger electronic devices such as computer printers are taken to the local electronics store to be recycled rather than trashed. And rechargeable batteries and old CF lamps go to the local drop-off bins in Lowe's hardware store. Bulky thinks like old appliances or furniture are delivered to the land fill - but this happens very rarely.
I am pleased to see that I am averaging around 60-70% recycling to 30-40% trash. Given the very small amount of actual materials I dispose of, all it will take is one large heavy item to skew the statistics. So it will be interesting to see how I average out at the end of the year.For reference the EPA says an average American: "...recycled and composted 1.51 pounds of our individual waste generation of 4.38 pounds per person per day." My weekly average so far is about 1/3 of that. I do see a few neighbors that put out three or four garbage pails per week and very little in their recycling bins and it is hard for me to understand how a family can create that much garbage. Our local landfill was supposed to have been closed a year or two ago but they somehow found more room to keep building a mountain of garbage there. Maine is slowly moving toward a more sustainable waste stream with a number of waste to energy plants and biomass to energy plants for organic waste.
The thing about garbage is once it leaves the curb most people do not think about it whereas I personally have visited both the local garbage dump and the recycling sorting facility that processes our recycling. Both places are quite amazing. The technology for sorting recyclables is so efficient that less than 1% comes out at the other end as garbage and this is mostly due to people putting things into the recycling bins that don't belong there due to ignorance or laziness.
|Zero sort recycling plant separating materials|
Here is my chart from 2015, the numbers are a little higher until October when my ex-wife moved out: