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:

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