The ongoing march towards a "green" and sustainable society will eventually have an overwhelmingly positive effect on our country. By raising individual awareness of environmentally friendly initiatives, the average consumer is now shopping with, at least, an understanding of sustainability. But while our buying options are becoming increasingly green, there's still the problem of what conservation-minded options exist for our waste.
The average American throws away 4 pounds of trash a week. That's 216 pounds a year... per person. A pretty staggering statistic, especially for anyone who has already heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. For those of you who have not - it's a island of trash, formed by a convergence of ocean currents, estimated to be about twice the size of Texas.
The problem, according to workers within the waste management community, is making sure waste products are sent to the proper facilities. "There is a consolidation process that we implement," said Eric Olson of Junk Command - a Minneapolis eco-friendly junk removal company, "Everything goes to the most appropriate site for recycling instead of just taking everything to a landfill and burying it." If it is done right it doesn't have to end up in our oceans.
Of course, reducing waste is an equally important initiative - as evidenced by Subaru's recent "no waste" pledges. But while individuals can strive to cut down on their waste, simply being a consumer of goods rather than a manufacturer of them means some amount of excess materials will always exist - though eventually coming in under 4 pounds a week might be nice.
So with a constant stream of new waste and an increasingly green society, perhaps the biggest road block facing environmentally friendly waste removal is the public hesitance to pay more than they have to for a service - especially during the current recession. However, the actual cost different between green and non-green waste removal is... nothing! "The "Green" part of our business refers to the recycling and consolidation process," explains Olson, "It does not affect the collection or hauling costs." The reclamation of much of the waste that we try to recycle helps keep the cost of pickup and removal down and in fact in some cases makes its more cost-effective than the traditional waste removal and disposal. That is the beauty of our industry and it will only get more and more innovative and cost-effective.
The fledgling industry of eco-friendly junk and waste reclamation is not even a decade old and already there are new companies cropping up almost on a weekly basis. Yet in the scope of the amount of waste we as a society produce on a daily basis the economics of this business is barely a blip on the radar. A Google search for "eco-friendly junk removal" of a commercial scope yields only 16,200 results which is tiny relative to a search for the traditional "waste removal" services which produces over 3,880,000 results.
With our roads soon filling with hybrid cars and buildings being powered by wind turbines, it's high time we stopped filling our oceans with our refuse. "The more people that turn to environmentally friendly junk removal the cheaper the process will become for everyone, finishes Olson, "We are constantly thinking of better ways to help improve the environment."