In the past few days, a topic about the United States has “brushed the screen” on the domestic Internet.
The theme is clear: How staggering is waste in the United States?
The cause was that a Douban netizen posted an old post of Zhihu, in which a netizen quoted what a Chinese professor had seen in the United States and asked a question:
Netizens who have lived in the United States under the post have come forward to say that Americans are comprehensively wasting oil, water, electricity, materials and other resources. I really don’t say I don’t know, I’m shocked when I say it. For example, the most liked answer:
And the “senior black” answer of the second like:
There are many more answers, it seems that waste in the United States exists in almost every aspect of life, and the method and scale of waste are unanimous and unrestrained and huge.
While this topic triggered discussion among many netizens, it also caused shock and anger among onlookers.
In fact, if you seek answers on the Internet, you will find that how the United States is wasted is not only an old topic, but also a topic that has been repeatedly mentioned, and it is not only Chinese netizens who cannot stand the waste of the United States, but also many media and netizens are indignant when it comes to Americans’ waste of resources.
One set of data tells us a lot: Statistics show that Americans, who make up 5 percent of the world’s population, consume 23 percent of the world’s energy. Food waste is significant: Americans waste nearly 150,000 tons of food a day, equivalent to about a pound of food per person per day.
So, is the United States really the most wasteful country in the world?
According to Xiaorui’s years of experience in living in the United States, Americans’ consumption and waste are indeed amazing, but sometimes they also give a contradictory impression.
In fact, many Americans live a simple and frugal life, furniture is durable and durable, do not pursue luxury goods, accustomed to the meal system and simple diet, rarely see diners in restaurants eating and drinking, cups and plates, and there is no concept that many people in China must have leftovers when they are treated. Many supermarket chains do not offer plastic bags, only recyclable paper bags or used food packaging boxes. Most of the vehicles made in the United States are oil tigers, but Japanese and Korean cars that save money on fuel are favored in the rental car market. The old logistics network in the United States is also highly developed, and various charities have opened second-hand goods chain stores throughout the United States, but all items that can be reused can be donated and sold cheaply, while making the most of it, reducing the cost of living for a large number of low- and middle-income people. Xiao Rui went to a nearby charity shop before Christmas last year to donate sundries, and donors still have long queues during the epidemic.
But on the other hand, the huge market and abundant resources make Americans “extravagant” in many aspects. In terms of lifestyle, many things are “big”, such as large cars, large houses, refrigerators, washing machines and dryers. Many foods are also often Big Mac-type large packages. As the “land of cars”, many American families have more than one car, SUVs and Picayu are favored; The size of the lawn is often an important criterion for judging the quality of a family’s family and the community in which it is located. In the United States, it is rare to see publicity on energy saving, electricity saving, and water saving. Whether winter or summer, the indoor temperature makes a long-sleeved shirt enough for many people. American garbage recycling is also very different from domestic garbage, no one pays to buy waste, garbage classification is often limited to paper and bottles, the rest can only be treated as ordinary garbage, when the U.S. house is surrendered, the tenant needs to clean up all the furniture items in the house, rather than leaving it to the next tenant, a large number of renters have to pay money to ask the cleaning company to pull the furniture and appliances that can still be used normally to the landfill. Americans are also keen to use all kinds of disposable paper items, kitchen paper, paper plates, paper cups, etc. are consumed in large quantities. Material consumption in industries such as medicine is also often surprising.
In this way, the waste brought is naturally not small. According to an August 2019 New York Times article titled “America’s Big Business of Scavenging in the Post-Industrial Era> the United States produces more per capita than any other country in the world, garbage, and the total weight of all the garbage produced in the United States each year is 700 times higher than that of the Empire State Building in New York. “Americans make up only 4 percent of the world’s population, yet produce 12 percent of the world’s garbage each year. According to the EPA, we landfill 840,000 tons of plastic plates and cups, 3.4 million tons of diapers, 8.2 million tons of clothes and shoes, and 910,000 tons of towels, sheets and pillowcases each year. ”
According to the FoodPrint website, the U.S. wastes an estimated 40 percent of its food each year, totaling 125 billion to 160 billion pounds, most of which is completely edible and nutritious.
According to the Food Footprint website, this wasted food falls into two categories, one known as “food loss”, which includes any edible food that is not eaten at all stages of food production, such as unharvested crops, food that spoils during transportation, and other food that does not reach the store. U.S. food production consumes 15.7 percent of the U.S. energy budget, 50 percent of its land, and 80 percent of its fresh water, but loses up to 20 billion pounds of agricultural produce on farms each year.
The other category, commonly referred to as “food waste,” is defined by the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) to include food discarded by retailers such as supermarkets for reasons such as color or appearance, leftovers from restaurants and homes, expired dairy products and spoiled food, and so on. According to the Food Footprint project, food waste alone costs the U.S. an estimated $218 billion a year. With 12 percent of U.S. households food insecure today, a 15 percent reduction in food waste each year would be enough to feed more than 25 million people.
In addition, in the United States, only 5% of food is composted, and uneaten food is the largest component of municipal solid waste. In landfills, food gradually breaks down to form methane, an 86-fold more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Food waste is also one of the leading causes of freshwater pollution in the United States.
The huge waste continues to attract global criticism, and the United States has to take action. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the US Environmental Protection Agency set a federal government goal of reducing food waste by 50 percent by 2030, but the Food Footprint project says it’s hard to assess whether Americans are really wasting less food now than they used to because of limited data. The New York Times said that Americans’ consumption patterns are beginning to change, and recycling has become a profitable big business. The amount of waste produced per capita in the United States increased from 2.68 pounds per person per day in 1960 to 4.74 pounds per person per day in 2000, and then declined year after year, falling to 4.48 pounds per person per day in 2015.
(Source: Reference News WeChat public account)