In one way or another, all of us contribute to the multiton loads of garbage trucks. As the U.S. population has grown in the past decades, so has our solid waste production. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans generated more than 251 million tons (227 metric tons) of trash in 2006 [source: EPA]. That breaks down to 4.6 pounds (2.08 kilograms) of trash per person every day [source: EPA].
To take care of that mess, we have garbage trucks that carry our refuse from the trash can to the landfill. Those discarded apple cores, coffee grounds and whatnot add up to a hefty cargo load. After making its rounds, a garbage truck may weigh 25 tons (22 metric tons). However, you can do a lot to lighten a garbage truck's load. Since paper products make up more than a third of total trash thrown away, recycling can make a big difference.
And it’s not just paper that you can toss in the recycling bin instead of the trash. Be sure to set aside glass, plastic and aluminum, too. Not sure what to do with food scraps and other organic waste? Consider composting. With the humus that results make from your composted solid waste, your trash can will be lighter and your garden may grow a little better, too.