Whether it's the straw you used to stir your coffee, or paper towels you used to dry your hands in a public restroom – most of us create trash every day.
And if you're anything like me, you probably throw your stuff in the garbage or recycling and never think about it again.
But did you know Minnesotans produce 5.5 to 6 million tons of trash every year? And according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, that's just garbage from places like homes and businesses. It doesn't even count separated recyclables or construction debris.
That got me thinking: how much do I waste?
So I conducted a small-scale experiment to see how much I throw away. For two weeks, I held onto all of my trash. I brought used tissues home from work, and stored up my cat's used kitty litter (gross, I know), just to see what all I throw out.
And at the end of two weeks, I stepped on a scale to see how much trash I built up.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that's significantly less than the average Minnesotan. According to the MPCA, the average Minnesotan produces about 42 pounds – not counting recyclables – every two weeks.
Now I'm on to the second part of my experiment: can I go absolutely trash free for two weeks? I'll have that experiment update later this month.
It is possible. This woman apparently kept four years of trash in a single mason jar.
More trashy facts
According to a report by the MPCA, Minnesotans produced about 5.5 million tons of trash in 2015. Each individual produced 2,000 pounds that year.
Of that, 32 percent of trash was sent to landfills, 44 percent was recycled, 23 percent went to waste-to-energy processing, and 1 percent was illegally dumped or burned.
Minnesota has 23 landfills that accept standard trash. Some of the most common items found in them include diapers, paper and cardboard, food and beverage containers, and organics.
The agency says that a recent waste composition study in Minnesota found that 63 percent of waste going to disposal or processing facilities could have been recycled or composted.
Food waste is also a big issue. Officials say 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes uneaten. That is more than 20 pounds of food per person every month.
The MPCA adds that most of that uneaten food ends up just rotting in landfills, and accounts for 25 percent of the country's methane emissions.
For tips on managing food waste, click here. And to learn how to make the most of the groceries you buy, click here. You can also check with your city or county to see if they have organics or compost services.