Our Own Garbage is Smothering Us

In spite of breakthrough technologies that enable us to dispose of waste safely and efficiently, transform discarded materials into a variety of practical energy sources, along with robust community and business initiatives to recycle household and electronic waste — we are drowning in garbage. The Washington Post’s Kevin Sieff describes the global garbage dilemma in detail in his November 20, 2017, article: “The World is Drowning in Ever-Growing Mounds of Garbage.”

Click on the link below to read the entire article:


Following are some takeaway points from the article:

  • Lagos Nigeria, Africa’s largest city (population, 21-million) transports its garbage to a huge dump in the center of the city. Residents and commuters must cope with the smell of burning trash.

  • Across the globe, we produce more than a billion tons of garbage annually.

  • Barges transport approximately 3600 tons of trash in New York’s Hudson River every day.

  • The World Bank estimates that by 2025 (just a few years away), cities worldwide will produce enough refuse to fill a 3100-mile line of garbage trucks every single day.

  • In Africa, unsanitary disposal of garbage contributes to epidemics of a host of deadly diseases including malaria, yellow fever and Lassa fever. Some of these diseases are carried by mosquitoes; others are spread by the urine and feces of rodents due to poor sanitation.

More Quick Facts about Garbage

  • Approximately ⅓ of all food for human consumption gets tossed out; that comes to about 1.3-billion tons worldwide.

  • Fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers are the foods most often thrown out.

  • Every year wealthy countries throw out about as much food (222-million metric tons) as is produced in sub-Saharan Africa (230-million tons).

  • Per capita waste in Europe and North America – at 95-115 kg per year – is more than 12 times the rate of 6-11 kg per year for individuals who live in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.  

Additional Reading:

“Can Technology Help Tackle the World’s Waste Crisis?”

“The Stench of Garbage Crisis Returns to Lebanon.”