How Much Garbage Does an Average American Family Produce?

1-26-17_trashaverageThe average American individual creates 30.8 LBS. of waste per
WEEK or 1,606 LBS. of trash per year. That’s about the size of a cow.

The average American family creates 121.8 LBS. of garbage per WEEK or 6,351 LBS. of garbage per year. That’s about the size of an elephant.


How Does Our Family Compare?

Bag #1 | 12 Lbs (Wednesday – Friday Night) – Contained a whole head of cauliflower and ½ a pound of potatoes that went bad

Bag #2 | 5 Lbs   (Friday – Sunday Night) – Bags and containers from Boston Market and Wendy’s. Tossed leftovers in fridge.

Bag #3 | 12.4 LBS (Sunday Night – Tuesday) – Tossed leftovers, grocery shopped so tossed old, rotten unused vegetables

Bag #4 | 9 LBS (Tuesday – Thursday Morning*Garbage Day) -Various

Total Trash for our 5 Person Family : 38.4 LBS / 4 Bags / 18 LBS Recycle


HEY! That’s a lot of garbage!

Not terrible! We are definitely way below the national average, but there’s always room for improvement, so it’s not time to pat ourselves on the back just yet.

If we kept up this way of living, our family’s garbage over ONE YEAR would be 1966.2 LBS.

That’s about the weight of a draft horse per year.

Reducing Garbage: Our Family’s Plan

  1. Learn How to Compost: Americans throw away 480 LBS of food scraps annually (per The Good I am going go get over my fear of composting and start saving everything that is plant derived, coffee grounds and egg shells. Specific details to follow.
  2. Reduce Prepared Food Waste: I have 3 picky eaters and a family that hates leftovers. If I want to reduce our family’s garbage, I’m going to have to start paying attention to what they eat and what we are throwing away. Are my portion sizes realistic? Are there foods that my family consistently doesn’t eat? Can I incorporate leftovers into other meals?
  3. Packaging: When shopping at the grocery store, I plan on purchasing items that have limited packaging. If they are packaged, I will favor the items with recyclable packaging. This also means we need to reduce our fast food consumption. Everything is individually packaged at fast food restaurants. The waste this creates is significant
  4. Learn More About Recycling: So far our family recycles all of the usual suspects: milk jugs, cans, glass jars, plastic jugs, cardboard and paper products. According to Utah Recycles, half of the garbage Americans throw out could be recycled. This amount of recyclables could fill up a football stadium from top to bottom everyday
  5. Smart Trash Packing: I totally made that term up. This has nothing to do with reducing quantity but more to do with reducing the space our trash takes up in a landfill. This involves being cognizant of how I am filling up our trash can.

Who’s with me?


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