The Things We Waste

We waste water. Turning off the water while brushing your teeth can save around 8 gallons of water per day. That’s 2,920 gallons per year or 46,720 cups of water. If you drink 8 eight-ounce cups of water per day, that’s enough water for you to drink for 16 years.

We waste food. The average person in North American and Europe wastes between 95 to 115 kg (210 to 250 lbs) of food per year. Given that we eat about 4 lbs per day, that’s enough food for someone to eat for over two months.

We waste straws. Americans use 500 million straws per day, which are rarely reused. Most are not biodegradable or recyclable. That’s enough trash to fill 127 school buses per day. Consider using reusable bamboo or stainless steel straws.

We waste plastic bottles. The average american uses 167 plastic water bottles per year and only about 20% of them get recycled. Making these bottles uses enough oil to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. Oh, and this is just for water alone. Get a Nalgene or one of these fancy teak wood Swell bottles. $35 seems like a lot for a bottle, but it’s only about 15% of the money an average American spends on bottled water per year.

We waste glass jars. Why not use them as glasses, preserving food, storage containers for anything from spare change to soup to leftovers to bolts, planters, candle holders, terrariums, flower vases, or this pretty glass centerpiece.

We waste money. On everything from going out for lunch daily, the three coffees we drink at Starbucks every day, the spontaneous online purchases when we’re bored, the $1.99 that we spend for some more lives on Candy Crush, the books we never read, the shoes we only wear once, drinking at restaurants, credit card interest, and cigarettes.

But most of all we waste time, and we waste it mindlessly. We can’t redo the conversations when we stared at our phones over dinner. We don’t get the hours back from binge watching a TV show, and we can’t buy back the hours we spend on social media. In the words of Ryan Holiday, “time is our most irreplaceable asset – we cannot buy more of it. We can only strive to waste as little as possible.”

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The quote “Time is our most irreplaceable asset…” is from “Spendthrifts of Time” in The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman.

Featured Photo by Heather Zabriskie on Unsplash

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