The Most Wasteful Country in the World
You finish a block of cheese and throw away its plastic wrapper. You take the tags off your new clothes and dispose of the shopping bag. You buy a new toothbrush and get rid of the old one. You get Chinese takeout and you're not sure if the container is recyclable because it seems like some kind of styrofoam that isn't recyclable so in the garbage it goes.
By themselves all these things seem so menial when they happen day after day throughout the ever flowing passage of time. It's hard to even consider what an old toothbrush could amount to. It's just a little piece of plastic with bristles on it. Hardly worth considering one old toothbrush, right? It's nothing.
But now imagine millions of people throwing away a handful of nothings a day.
Instead of one, how about millions of old toothbrushes? How about millions of shopping bags. Millions of Chinese takeout containers made from some kind of styrofoam? Imagine year after year, millions upon millions. Suddenly all these nothings start to turn into a rather large something.
So how big is the pile? Well, in Canada, citizen's residential waste will add up to about 25,000,000 tonnes a year. That's 25,000,000,000 kilograms, or 55,115,565,546 pounds. Sounds like a lot, doesn't it?
Except 25 million tonnes doesn't sound that bad, when you see things like the United States creates 228 million tonnes of waste a year. 228 million is way more than 25 million! But it's unfortunately not that simple. The United States population is also considerably bigger than Canada's. It's important to keep things proportional.
But before we get ahead of ourselves let's start at a lower level, the provinces of Canada itself.
*YK, NWT, NU, PEI Data for Prince Edward Island, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunuvat are not included in order to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act
Looking at the map you can see Nova Scotia, with its light green, had the least wasteful Canadians. Alberta, coloured black, had the most wasteful. And don't be confused by the green on YK, NWT, NU, and PEI - just used that colour because it seemed the most country-ish. For some reason, the Yukon, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and PEI don't have any data. Something about "confidentiality". Go figure. I'm sure not much garbage comes out of those regions anyways.
Across Canada, most of regions have a pretty close ratio between population and garbage production. Except Nova Scotia and BC, where people are a little more ecological, and Alberta where people are, well, a little less ecological. Not surprisingly, most of the overall waste was generated where most of the people were, Ontario and Quebec.
But so far this is all collective, what about your average individual Canadian?
Well, your average Canadian will create about 720kg (1587 lbs) of solid waste a year. Of course, 720 kg doesn't seem like a very big number except when you consider that's also the the weight of an adult bull moose.
You ever a seen a moose? They're absolutely huge. That's a lot of garbage!
Or how about something a little nearer and dearer to most Canadians? That 720kg of garbage is also equivalent to 8 average sized NHL players (91kg/202lbs each) AND the Stanley Cup (15.5kg/34.5lbs).
Look! He's so happy!
But what does 34,000,000 people each producing 720kg of waste a year collectively amounting to 25,000,000 tonnes actually mean? Sure, they are big numbers. And you can wave them about to serve whatever purpose you have. But they don't really mean anything when presented by themselves. Like mentioned earlier when comparing the waste of Canada to the United States, things need to be proportional and in context. Canada is a pretty rich country. Maybe it's a wealthy country thing?
What if we compare Canada to the highest income countries in the world?
Huh.. Not looking too good...Well Canada is much larger than these other high income countries. What if it's just because Canada has more space so its denizens feel more comfortable being irresponsible with waste and creating the odd extra landfill?
What if we compare Canada to countries with the biggest surface areas?
Over twice as much waste as Russia...I guess that rules out the "the country's just big" excuse. This is actually pretty dissapointing. I was not expecting this at all.
It seems whether compared to income or size of the country, Canada is simply really, really wasteful. You know that stereotype that the USA is full of gluttonous pigs with no regard for the mess they make? It seems Canada is a tad worse. In fact, looking at the charts and data it looks like Canada is probably the most wasteful, developed country in the world.
Should probably do something about that. I mean Canada is known for being really polite, but do Canadians also want a reputation for being incredibly wasteful?
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