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Find Out What Happens to Our Trash

Discarded plastic items await recycling (Photo: Shutterstock)

There is no magic place called “away” where our garbage goes. We learned this early on in grade school. My boyfriend’s 7-year-old cousin, Charlie, is an ardent recycler at his home and perhaps the finest example of what we all should be doing when it comes to our trash; he’s inquisitive, unrelenting and methodical.

We adults understand recycling and composting are cost-effective and efficient ways to fight climate change and provide a host of social and environmental benefits. And yet, when it comes to recycling, the old saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ goes for too many. The statistics are proof point. The EPA estimates that 75 percent of the American waste stream is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30 percent of it. And according to The Economist, this is far lower than most first-world countries.

The infographic below by breaks down our recycling woes and what’s at stake, like the health of our oceans. Used plastic dumped into the sea destroys sea life at an estimated 1,000,000 sea creatures per year.

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All About Recycling

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Lindsay has spent her career at the intersection of media and social change. In her role at Eco-Chick, Lindsay has established partnerships and campaigns with some of the world’s most-recognized companies committed to sustainability and CSR. She co-created the popular interview series “Heroines for the Planet” that features groundbreaking women who share courage and a deep passion for protecting people and the Earth. Lindsay is the Marketing and Sustainability Manager at Health-Ade Kombucha and previously served as Director of Communications at the social enterprise CBS EcoMedia. There she directed corporate advertising dollars to the nation’s most effective non-profits tackling urgent social issues in local communities and was awarded CBS Corporation’s prestigious Share-the-Vision award. She has written for Whole Living Magazine, Edible, Cottages & Gardens, From The Grapevine,,, and for environmentalists Laura Turner Seydel and Susan Rockefeller. Lindsay holds a BS in Global Business Studies and Marketing from Manhattan College, and received the 2012 Honors Award at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.