Decrease in Trash Early Indicator of Recession

landfillThe Washington Post ran an interesting story (A Trashed Economy Foretold) on Saturday about how a decrease in the amount of trash being discarded in landfills was an early indicator of the recession.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,” said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County landfill.

The article details how consumer behavior and buying patterns have changed to such a degree that trash volume has dropped significantly.

“It’s all part of the cycle of stuff that people in the trash business say they’ve seen in every economic downturn since the end of World War II. People don’t buy stuff, so there’s less packaging — which typically makes up one-third of all landfill trash — to toss. With a drop in demand, manufacturers make less, creating less waste. More vacant homes and fewer people in a community mean less trash. A stagnant housing market means less construction debris. On tight budgets, people eat out less, so restaurants order less, so there’s less to throw away. Landscapers are out of work, so there’s less yard debris.”

For a cool and sobering depiction of this process, take a look at The Story of Stuff.

What’s really powerful to me is how, when pressed by economic circumstances, people can and do change their behavior in ways that have a more positive planetary impact.

What’s encouraging about all of this is that businesses are rethinking how they produce, manufacture and transport things — changes that once implemented, will live on even after the economy rebounds. But what about our behavior as individuals and consumers?

  • Are the changes that you’re making to adapt to this unstable economy, the ones that are also good for the environment, permanent?
  • Will your new routines become life-long habits?
  • Or, do you see old habits rebounding when the economy does?
  • How is this all playing out in your circles?

One of the things the we can do to integrate these changes into our lives for the long haul is to involve the kids as much as possible. Let’s make eco-active living a given and a gift from the very start.

Read the full article.

Filed Under: ConsumerismEco-KidsEnvironmentReduce-Reuse-Recycle

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.