The U.S. produces more than 236 million tons of trash — or about 1,640 pounds of waste per person — per year. That’s a lot of garbage. What exactly are we throwing away? The truth may surprise you. It turns out the poster child for recycling — the soda can — is barely a drop in the bucket, whereas Tree Enemy No. 1 (paper, duh) is being disposed of at a level that’s criminal. And check out what else we found while sorting through the rubble.
24% Organic waste (food scraps and yard trimmings)
3.6% Furniture and furnishings
3.1% Clothing and footwear
1.5% Disposable diapers
1.2% Consumer electronics
0.6% Beer and soft drink cans
0.4% Trash bags
This article originally appeared in Plenty in December 2006. This story was added to MNN.com in June 2009.