What Is Garbage?

photo of trash can
Photo credit: Lori Minor-Penland,
National Museum of Natural History

Garbage is the stuff we don't need anymore, the junk we think is useless. It's the rejects we don't want to deal with, and the cast-offs from the way we live. It comes from our homes, businesses, government agencies, and institutions like schools and hospitals. Garbage is also known as "municipal solid waste."

Americans create nearly 210 million tons of municipal solid waste each year. That's a lot, but it's only the tip of the iceberg.

Rotten Truth:
We create a lot more waste that we never see -- waste produced in the process of making all those things we buy, consume, and eventually toss:

Back Rotten Truth Home Next



© The Rotten Truth web site was created in 1998 by the Association of Science-Technology Centers Incorporated and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer: Rotten Truth (About Garbage) links to a number of activities and resources provided by institutions other than ASTC and SITES. Every effort has been made to ensure that these links are accurate, but because neither ASTC nor SITES controls the content of these web sites, outside links are not guaranteed to be correct or active. Neither ASTC nor SITES shall be liable in the event of incidental or consequential damages connected with, or arising out of, providing the information offered here. External sites are not endorsed by ASTC or the Smithsonian Institution.