Today is trash day in our neighborhood and, being the "save the earth" type of person that I am, I always take note of how much trash other people have in their trash cans. Trash day is a weekly event, and there are many many trash cans where the lid doesn't close all the way because there is so much trash. Can it be that these families generate so much trash every week that the can is overflowing?
Our trash can, by contrast, is about half empty. As in, a child can fit in there for a game of hide and seek (not recommended. Absolutely not recommended).
Why do we have so much less trash? I can only guess at the answer.
We recycle a lot. I am vigilant about that. All of our glass bottles, our recyclable plasticware, cereal and food boxes, cardboard, paper - all of that is recyclable and goes into a different bin. We don't use disposable cookware frequently; sure it's convenient and definitely has its applications, but by and large, I don't use disposable on a regular basis. Same goes for Shabbat and disposable dishes and silverware. I almost always use real dishes and silverware. (The dishes may not be cleaned until Sunday morning, but that's a different issue altogether.) (Pesach and Sukkot and other holidays and times, like right after giving birth, may call for disposables, and for that I am thankful to G-d for such products.)
Otherwise, I don't know what other explanations there could be. I save lots of items, like tissue paper. I recycle plastic grocery bags (and almost always bring my own to reduce the number I have on hand). I suppose, if I want to reduce my trash output even more, I could make compost out of my kitchen scraps. (I've thought about it but can't get myself to do it yet).
I'm not judging other people. It just makes me take notice every Tuesday when I see the black statues of trash cans lined up on the street with trash piled high. The trash doesn't go to a magical place; it goes into a landfill. So with that in mind, I try to be more conscious of what I consume, what I throw away, and how I relate to the world around me.
For an interesting discussion on this topic, click here.