By Indykids Staff

Some cultures have no word for garbage. They don’t think of any object as useless. How is it that we in the U.S. can have so much garbage? And where does it all go?

The History of Garbage

People began producing large amounts of garbage in the early 1800’s, when mass production was introduced. Products like clothes or toys that at one time were made in small workshops or homes are now produced on a mass scale. In order for the company to make a profit, it must sell a lot of products.

Manufacturers began to make items that would break easily or go out of style quickly, and people would buy a newer and better product. The more we buy the more profit companies make, and the more trash we make.

Getting Rid of Trash

There is no good way to get rid of garbage. Even though we don’t see trash after it is hauled away by the garbage collector, it is causing problems for other people or for people in coming generations. Incineration, or the burning of trash, is one way to get rid of trash. But burning trash produces smoke and toxic chemicals called dioxins that are known to cause cancer and other health problems.

Another way to get rid of trash is to put it in a landfill, which is a giant hole in the ground. Most of our waste in New York City gets shipped to Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia — poorer areas with more land. Hauling the trash by trucks pollutes the air and some kinds of trash release toxic wastes in the ground.


Most trash is created by industry. Some countries in Europe have reduced garbage production by making laws, such as one charging companies for the packaging they produce and another banning throw-away bottles.

Garbage and Recylcing information from the new book by Heather Rogers, Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage.