I have a dog. He’s a great dog. Possibly the best dog ever (that’s not your dog). I actually insisted that he be the accompanying photo for this blog entry since he’s what inspired it. However, this isn’t a blog entry about my dog. It’s a blog entry about my walk through my neighborhood during trash day. How did my dog inspire this entry? Because let me assure you that nothing would cause me to walk through any neighborhood before 8:00am other than my dog. But when you walk through a neighborhood that  early in the day on trash day, you get to see just how much trash there is.

A little disclaimer: I try not to judge. This entry isn’t meant to judge anybody and their trash habits. Everybody needs to take their journey to responsible living on their own path. This is, however, a frustrated observation about the amount of trash happening in the world. And by “world”, I’m pretty sure that I probably mean mostly America, since the carbon footprint here is so massive compared with other places.

A little bit about my neighborhood. I LOVE my neighborhood. It’s full of tree-lined streets and lawns that get cared about. There seem to be more dogs than people here. The houses are old and beautiful but well taken care of, and there’s not a lot of traffic so you can avoid noise (and some air) pollution.  Dog walkers stop to talk to each other about their dogs. I love it here.

The demographic of my neighborhood is more or less two things: relatively affluent single people and college students who trend to the “more affluent end of college students.” Why do I tell you this? Because these are two demographics who are not only among the most highly aware of environmental issues, but they have the greatest number of resources to combat environmental waste. In fact, most polls and studies have these demographics answering that green issues are important to them.

Here’s the good news: About every second or third house had also left out a recycling container.

Here’s the bad news: The average number of trash bags in front of a house was four (yes, I counted and averaged). That’s a lot of trash. On one day. And all I could think of was, “Wow. This is how much trash my neighborhood alone generates in one week. Add this up over a year…” It was really mind-boggling, actually.

Now, I did not go as far as to get into people’s trash to see the contents. However, it was pretty obvious that there was a great deal of food waste going on. Statistically, this makes sense. Americans waste enormous amounts of food. But it wasn’t just food (from what I could see sticking out of the top). Lots of containers, bottles and take-out boxes. Many of which can be recycled. This, of course, led me to wonder why people just didn’t recycle those items?

And, of course, all of this trash was seemingly put into thick plastic bags that are … you guessed it … not biodegradable.

There’s a lot of discussion about the amount of waste and trash generated in America. But I can tell you this – I will be taking my niece for a walk with Pierre the Puppy and me next week. While she’s out in the morning with us, I’m going to have her visually look at how much trash is out on the streets and think about what that means for the future of the planet. Nothing drives how much is heading to a landfill home more than seeing it on your streets in the morning.

At least that’s what I think. And Pierre the Postconsumer Puppy agrees.

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