Friday, June 15, 2012

Talking Trash

By Amy Phillips Bursch, Media Relations Manager

Let’s talk trash! This kind, not that kind. Sorry to get your hopes up.

So what does garbage have to do with human population growth? Plenty. The more people on the planet, the more garbage they produce, and we’re already producing A LOT of garbage. One Saturday morning trip to your local landfill will convince you of that fact.

According to a new study out this month from the World Bank:

Currently, world cities generate about 1.3 billion (tons) of solid waste per year. This volume is expected to increase to 2.2 billion (tons) by 2025. Waste generation rates will more than double over the next twenty years in lower income countries.

All this garbage isn’t just ugly. According to the study, it’s also dangerous and expensive:

Locally, uncollected solid waste contributes to flooding, air pollution, and public health impacts such as respiratory ailments, diarrhea and dengue fever. In lower income country cities, solid waste management is usually a city’s single largest budgetary item.

Reducing, reusing and recycling helps reduce the volume, of course. But unless we want our planet to look like this is 2050 or so, one of the best ways we have to cut down on the waste we produce is to slow population growth. How? It’s not that difficult – or even that expensive.

In fact, for every  investment of $100 million in family planning, 3.6 million women are able to choose the size of their families, and 2.1 million unintended pregnancies are avoided. It’s a relatively tiny price tag for better lives – and a cleaner planet, too.

Then after slowing population growth, we just need to get everyone to live like the trash-free Johnson family of Mill Valley, Calif., and WALL-E will have to find a new line of work.

1 comment:

  1. There's no question that waste reduction has to be part of sustainable development and that population growth will make reducing waste more difficult. This is just another reason that it's important that the nations of the world commit to family planning in Rio.