How much trash are you contributing to the environment each day? See for yourself.

·2-min read
The United States produces 268 million tons of waste annually, with 69 million tons of it recycled and 25 million tons composted. (Photo: Getty Images)
The United States produces 268 million tons of waste annually, with 69 million tons of it recycled and 25 million tons composted. (Photo: Getty Images)

In honor of Earth Day, let's talk trash.

The average American, you might be surprised to learn, produces nearly five pounds of trash per day — most of it made of up of recyclable items including paper, glass and plastics. Add and multiply that by days and population and, according to the latest data from the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States produces 268 million tons of waste annually, with 69 million tons of it recycled and 25 million tons composted.

These numbers are significantly higher than for residents of other countries. In Europe, for example, the average person generates just over 1,000 pounds of waste per year compared to Americans, who produce nearly 2,000, according to the EPA.

But there are plenty of simple ways for anyone to try and limit daily waste.

For example, paper and plastics — including newspapers, packages, cartons, bottles and magazines — can easily be swapped for more sustainable choices such as digital subscriptions, filterless coffee makers and reusable containers and bags. Other products containing textiles — which contribute to nearly 20 percent of wastewater worldwide — as well as metals and wood can be tackled through more thoughtful purchases and more practical ways of storing and recycling goods.

Of course, data is just data until we can actually visualize our personal contribution to the problem. That's why Yahoo Life created an interactive AR tool, below, to help anyone better understand how much waste we create every day — and how we can make better choices to limit our output.

How many simple actions can you commit to this year in order to reduce your personal trash? Click below to take the challenge.

Experience it yourself

In the tool above, simply click on a category of trash (such as food, plastics, metals, glass, rubber or textiles) to see a visual representation of your garbage footprint. From there, learn how you can reduce your contribution to waste — and then watch as your pile begins to shrinks.

—AR experience produced by Tim Chaffee, Jacquie Cosgrove, Becky Horvath, Henry Keyser, Radek Michalik and Fabian Rueckert