Who’s to blame for this problem?Globally, western countries produce a lot more waste compared to countries in Africa and South Asia, who produce the least. Canada and the United States produce more trash per capita than many other nations. With just five per cent of the world’s population, a 2006 Forbes article states the U.S. produces a quarter of our waste. The Conference Board of Canada reports that in 2009, Canadians produced the most municipal waste per capita than any other nation (777 kilograms per person). Meanwhile, countries like Japan and Norway produced about half that amount per person.
How much of our trash is recycled?Well—not much. While the numbers vary, just a quarter of the waste in Canada is recycled, while the rest is sent to places like landfills and garbage dumps. In the U.S., the recycling rate is higher at 34 per cent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Around the world, there are many shining examples of countries with more recycling infrastructure in place. According to OECD data, countries that recycle the most are:
- South Korea
What can we do about this dirty problem?While all our growing trash may seem like a gross and gigantic problem, here's what we can do to cut down on our garbage:
- Reduce single-use plastics, like coffee cups, plastic bags, food packaging, plastic utensils, etc.
- Support and take part in zero-waste initiatives
- Reduce food waste on your own and by supporting food waste initiatives
- Support policies and take part in recycling programs that encourage less waste (like bottle refund programs and paying for plastic bags and packaging)
- You know the saying: “reduce, reuse, recycle”—as much as possible!
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