How Much Garbage?

How Much Garbage?

Is taking out the trash one of your chores at home? Sometimes, the bags aren’t too heavy; some days, you are begging for help to drag them to the dumpster.

Using your knowledge of how much trash you generate at home, circle an answer to each question below that is closest to your own hypothesis on how much garbage Americans generate.

How much garbage does a typical American family of four generate in one week?

A. about 20 pounds

B. 50 pounds

C. 80-150 pounds

D. 250 pounds

How much garbage is that for each person for one day?

A. 1 pound

B. 3-4 pounds

C. over 10 pounds

D. 22 pounds

Americans generate about 190 to 210 million tons of garbage a year. That is enough trash to fill a bumper-to-bumper convoy of garbage trucks halfway to the Moon.

What happens to this garbage?

Sure, it goes into the garbage truck, and we never see it again–but it does go somewhere.

What happens to the garbage when it gets to the landfill?

Every day, leaves die and fall off of plants. In the fall, many trees lose their leaves. People in your neighborhood mow their yard.         

  • What happens to all these leaves?    
  • Why are we not up to our necks in garbage, dead leaves, and remains of living things that die?
  • When living things die, what happens to the energy trapped in the bodies of the organisms?
  • When we throw things away, what happens to the energy trapped in the matter of those objects when they end up in the landfill?

Adapted from CSCOPE 9/2012