Preserving the Environment

6 Common Environmental Culprits That Need Regulation

September 9, 2014
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6 Common Environmental Culprits That Need Regulation
According to the EPA, a quarter of all solid waste is paper — the material most thrown away by Americans. David Silverman/Getty Images
California is about the ban plastic bags, but they're just one of many hazardous things that U.S. households toss on a daily basis.

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about California being the first state to ban plastic bags (even though Hawaii arguably deserves the title). This news is undoubtedly fantastic, but it’s really just a small victory in light of much larger environmental problems.

Adam Minter writes on Bloomberg View that the ban — now awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature — is much more symbolic than real: “Gestures such as these can be important in inspiring broader, more meaningful environmental reform. But they risk fueling a self-congratulatory complacency that distracts from more serious challenges.”

He’s got a point. As Minter says, the 3.4 million tons of plastic bags, sacks and wraps thrown out in 2012 is just 10 percent of the 31.8 million tons of total plastics thrown away, or a mere 1.3 percent of the 251 million tons of solid waste generated annually.

ALSO: Can I Recycle This? 5 Things You Should Always Recycle (and 5 Things You Shouldn’t)

Plastic bags are just a start. Here are six other big, wasteful household items that deserve our attention, and more importantly, what can be done about them.

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