America—the throwaway society—is changing its tune.
Every year in American 2 million tons of tech trash and 100 million cell phones wind up in landfills; 7 million tons of clothing and footwear are discarded and 254 million tons of trash are thrown away. But the current recession, which has affected everything from housing to retail sales, is also taking its toll on landfills. As Americans make do with what they already have, less stuff is going into landfills. Since late 2007, trash volume has decreased by 20 and even 30 percent in some places. Some landfills have had to lay off workers.
Landfills have seen a 20 to 30 percent decrease in trash since the start of the recession. As people reuse and repair their old things, less trash is being sent to landfills. Photo By D’Arcy Norman/Courtesy Flickr
It’s all part of a cycle. Tighter budgets mean fewer new purchases, which in turn leads to less packing material and other waste. People are reusing and repairing their old things instead of sending them to landfills. Repair businesses and thrift stores have seen consistent or rising sales, although Goodwill donations are down.
People are taking on the mantra of reduce, reuse, recycle and repair. Instead of buying new clothes, they’re shopping at Goodwill or revamping the ones they have. Instead of buying new electronics, they’re buying new batteries. And instead of buying a new computer, they’re replacing the broken parts.
It’s an environmentalist’s dream.