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Cleaning Up Our Act: Tackling America’s Bulky Item Trash Problem.

1. A big bulky problem

America has a serious trash issue. From furniture to appliances, we are filling up in our landfills faster than you can say “recycle”. The Environmental Protection Agency reports that Americans throw out over 12 million tons of bulky items (furniture and appliances) each year. This leads to a jaw dropping 450 percent increase in solid waste since 1960.1 This isn’t doing our planet any favors and is unsustainable in the long run.

Bulky furniture items on curb waiting to be trashed

Fast furniture describes cheaply made furniture that is not built to last. In our fast-paced consumer culture, we’re constantly swapping out our furniture, which is adding to the fast growing mountains of waste. Even The New York Times is sounding the alarm, warning that our landfills may soon be filled to overflowing with discarded furniture.2 

Then there’s electronic waste (or e-waste), another major contributor to our waste problem. Approximately 40 million tons of e-waste is generated globally every year. The United States is making a hefty contribution to this number each year. Not only does this create mountains of waste, but it also creates potential health hazards. Improper disposal of appliances can release toxic substances such as used oil, mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the environment. PCBs have already been detected in soil, water, and even the food chain.3 Yikes!

2. How can we fix this? 

It comes down to our personal choices and working together. It’s so important that we try to live more sustainably and adopt practices that reduce bulky item waste. One simple step we can take is to buy durable, well-made furniture that will not fall apart in a year or two. We can also look into getting gently used quality furniture and give it a second life. Let’s avoid “fast furniture” and we can ultimately decrease the amount of furniture waste we generate. 

take care of the planet

Reusing is an important piece of the sustainability puzzle as well. When purchasing new furniture or appliances, try not to toss your old stuff. Look into greener options like local charities. Dallas Furniture Bank is a great option in the DFW area. You could also consider eco-friendly companies like LoopDeco who offer bulky item pickup and furniture removal for free and ensure that items are reused and given a second life. 

Proper disposal and recycling of broken appliances and electronic waste are crucial. We should educate ourselves and others on the hazardous materials they contain and the risks they pose. Recycling programs and facilities should do their part to spread awareness and encourage responsible disposal. 

Lastly, let’s embrace a mindset of conscious consumption and minimalism. By being more mindful of our purchasing decisions and focusing on what we really need, we can cut back on unnecessary waste and conserve valuable resources. 

3. Let’s make an impact.

America’s waste problem is an urgent issue, but together, we can make our cleaner and healthier planet for future generations. Let’s get to work! 

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  1. Debra, Kamin. “‘Fast Furniture’ is Cheap and Americans are Throwing it in the Trash.” https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/31/realestate/fast-furniture-clogged-landfills.html. June 20, 2023. ↩︎
  2. Ibid. ↩︎
  3. Illinois Department of Public Health, “Polychlolrinated Biphenyls (PCBs).” http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/factsheets/polychlorinatedbiphenyls.htm. February 2009. ↩︎
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