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Apr 01, 2022 6 min read

How much waste do we produce a day?

Have you ever thought about how much waste do we produce a day? Maybe you think you are leading a pretty close-to-zero-waste lifestyle by consciously avoiding certain plastic products like water bottles or grocery bags. However, there are still numerous other items you have been using and disposing of throughout the day without really noticing.

Let’s explore how much waste do we produce a day by going simply through different situations of an ordinary day.

In the morning

Our first encounter with a plastic item normally happens while we are still in bed, since you probably use a cell phone with a plastic casing or an alarm clock with a plastic body to wake you up. In the bathroom, you will use a plastic toothbrush and a comb. All these random objects are there for us every single day, just waiting to be dumbed and exchanged for new ones.

We create waste as soon as we wake up

Ok, so maybe using a plastic comb is not such a big problem, since you might have it for a really long time. But then there are numerous items for personal hygiene that you need to restock regularly: liquid soap, shampoo and conditioner all come in their own plastic bottles. Moisturizers, mascaras and deodorants are other groups of personal items we use all the time and represent a big part of household waste. And of course, don’t forget the little things like cotton swabs. Your trash bin can be full before the day even begins!

Breakfast most probably involves waste in one form or another as well. Every single ingredient comes wrapped in plastic or some other form of packaging. Yogurt comes in a plastic cup; milk and juice come in a carton or a plastic jar or bottle; oatmeal and cereal usually come in a paper carton. Unless you eat fruit you brought home in your own bag or farmed it yourself, there are very limited options you have not to produce waste during your first meal of the day.

Waste at the office

How much waste do we produce a day depends a lot on one’s lifestyle choices regarding plastic use. Still, you’ll likely come into contact with several of these situations throughout the day. It is very likely you will use plastic cups for drinking water from a dispenser or coffee from a coffee machine at the office. Not to mention all the office supplies you might use and dispose of during your workday (clips, pencils, paper, …). Think carefully about the options you have to make your workspace eco-friendlier and talk to your boss about it.

When it comes to lunch, just like breakfast, you’ll almost certainly take advantage of the convenience that plastic offers. But it shouldn’t necessarily be this way. What you can do, is bring your lunch in bio-based plastic tableware or visit a restaurant that respects nature by implementing several zero-waste ideas, like reducing complimentary single-use plastic items.

Your water consumption throughout the day could also mean a whole lot of plastic, depending on how you manage your fluid needs. If you drink your daily two liters of water from disposable water bottles, you’re consuming four water bottles a day, every day. On average, every person in western civilization used 167 disposable water bottles last year, and only about 38 of those bottles were recycled.

Plastic cups, bottles and food containers are all waste we create at the office

Dinner time

After work, you might take your dog for a walk before starting dinner. Most likely, you’ll use a plastic bag at least once during the walk to pick up after your pet. If you own a cat, you may be tempted to use a plastic bag when cleaning its litter box. Even if you only use one plastic bag a day to clean up after your pets, that’s over 300 plastic bags a year that end up in the trash! And what about packaging for pet food and treats?

At dinner, you might open a plastic bag of salad mixes or rolls, plastic-wrapped meat or pastry, or even a plastic container of tofu. You’ll wash your dishes with soap from a plastic bottle and start a load of laundry with a bottle of detergent made from the same materials.

And before you go to bed, you may take your daily medications, vitamins, or supplements, which are likely packaged in a plastic bottle or plastic blister pack. Even maintaining your health partially depends on plastic.

Even your medication is a source of daily waste

So exactly how much waste do we produce a day?

As you can see, the amount of garbage we generate every day is enormous. According to some research, every person produces just over two kilograms of solid waste every single day. That makes roughly 800 kilograms per year, which is far from leading a zero-waste lifestyle.

Luckily, some politicians and businessmen have started to understand that this way of living will ruin the world for those who come after us. Slowly but surely, they introduce new eco-friendly solutions in every field, and we can say that a green future is on the horizon. Of course, we still need to get there and it is up to every one of us to contribute to our common goal.