Americans Waste Paper: Household paper waste and what you can do about it.
It’s become a cliché statement that we, as Americans, are wasteful. The statistics are easy to find, and often overwhelming. Americans throw away 40% of our total food supply annually. American landfills are overflowing. Advances in recycling technology are often neglected as traditional garbage disposal is more convenient and embraced more frequently.
But, the greatest source of waste generation in the United States is paper. According to reports by the American Forest and Paper Association, the International Institute for Environment and Development, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States, among others, paper waste comprises more than one-third of all waste generation in the US. The US uses 25% of the world’s paper products, while only recycling 45% of waste paper. 40% of American landfill trash is said to be paper products. The average American uses more than 748 pounds of paper a year.
Primarily, paper waste generated in the home is significant. Specifically, wasting and overusing toilet paper and paper towels can have a large impact on our total generation of paper waste. The WorldWatch Institute in Washington, D.C. reported that the equivalent of 27,000 trees are flushed down the toilet as toilet paper every year. Similarly, if each American household were to use one less roll of toilet paper towels, thousands of trees would be saved each year. The impact of household paper waste is significant, with the depletion of our forests contribute to rising carbon dioxide levels, desertification, and rising average sea levels.
As we analyze these facts, something begins to take shape. The global issue of paper waste generation is one that must be approached from various angles. We can see, however, that one of these approaches must be individual in nature. Each one of us is responsible for the amount of paper waste that we generate in our daily lives. We should seek out ways to conserve our paper, therefore contributing to the reclaiming of our forestry and the slowing of global climate change. It is imperative, and we can make a difference by simply being conscious.