Chances are you came in contact with something made from recycled material today. A can of soda…the carpeting in your office building, or the smart phone that’s an arms length or less away. . They’re part of a swirling cycle of good made from old items and fed back into the production of new stuff. And the more we buy…the more we need to recycle. But where does all of that recycled material ultimately end up? Adam Minter is Shanghai correspondent for Bloomberg World View and a frequent contributor to The Atlantic and other publications. He’s followed the trail of trash and found that most of it ends up in China and India. He’s author of Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion Dollar Trash Trade.
Reduce, reuse, recycle? Not in the medical profession. While recycling has become the aspiration or even the norm in most areas of our daily lives, an operating room is the one place where recycling feels like a dangerous practice. Recent studies provide staggering statistics of the amount of waste produced by hospitals on a daily basis; one conservative estimate puts annual hospital waste at five point nine million tons, with operating rooms accounting for twenty to thirty percent of that total. In light of these numbers, there is a growing effort to bring sustainability into the health care sector while still maintaining the highest level of hygiene.
Many of us have good intentions when it comes to reducing household waste – but too often those canvas totes get left in the closet, food scraps avoid the compost pile, and product packaging fills the trash-bag. One head of household has found the motivation and creativity needed to take home-waste reduction to a whole other level. Bea Johnson is the blogger behind Zero-Waste Home, and now author of a book by the same name. She and her family produce only one quart of garbage per year.
Recycling today is considered by many to be a huge success, though Americans could be recycling more than they do. Well managed recycling systems that focus on profitable resources like glass, paper and metals have had the most success.
We talk with Pulitzer Prize winning author Edward Humes about his new book, Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash. Americans are at the top of the heap for producing waste: over 100 tons per person in a lifetime.
Humes explores why we make so much garbage, the environmental and economic impact of trash…and why he believes this is a problem ordinary people can fix.