Household Hazardous Waste
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that solid waste consists of everyday items that people use and then throw away. Packaging, batteries, or appliances are examples of solid waste. In the country, the amount of solid waste is striking. According to EPA (2015), in 2013, Americans produced around 254 million tons of solid waste, and only one-third of this trash was recycled or composted.
The information about the amount of trash generated in Tennessee is less easily available. EPA’s 2008 Tennessee Waste Characterization Study suggests some comparison across the state’s major cities, while Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (2015) offers solid waste and hazardous waste management plans while not referring to any specific data. Although the retrieved data is not complete, it is sufficient to draw conclusions about the scope of consumer culture and its role in environmental pollution. The ever-growing amount of hazardous and regular waste allows concluding that people tend to buy more than they can consume. The generated waste, in turn, pollutes the environment as only a small part of it is properly managed, for example, decomposed. Eventually, people will face a situation where they are drowning in their own garbage.In order to avoid this scenario, it is recommended to change public attitude and habits, and this should start at an individual level. Every citizen should realize that it is important to become involved in reasonable consumption, which includes buying only those goods that are really needed and to wisely dispose waste.
Unfortunately, I see that many people in my community do not understand the importance of individual initiatives which results in the ever-increasing amount of hazardous and regular waste. I also think that a nation-wide outreach would become an important step towards a more reasonable consumption and the reduced amount of waste. The outreach, as well as installation of containers though, requires investment which may hinder state initiatives. If the mentioned barriers are addressed, the nation will face a cleaner future.
EPA (2008). 2008 Tennessee waste characterization study. Tennessee State University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. EPA (2015). Municipal solid waste. Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/solidwaste/nonhaz/municipal/