Hi, I'm Jake and what is that smell??
Well, it's garbage, and there is a lot of garbage.
According to the EPA, the US produces two hundred and fifty million tons of trash a
year before recycling.
That's the weight of a million blue whales, or seven hundred empire state buildings.
Globally it's about two billion tons.
So about 8 million blue whales of 5 and a half thousand empire state buildings.
That's around 5 pounds of trash per person per day.
You can check out the approximate amount of waste that's been produced this year at
theworldcounts.com, which has all sorts of numbers about how good old planet earth is
doing and what we're doing to keep it safe.
But that's just one trashy DONG, and boy do I have a whole bin of dongs for ya
something you can do online now guys.
So we know there's a lot of garbage, but where does it go?
About thirty percent gets recycled, which is awesome, and millions of pounds
of refuse gets processed every year at recycling plants all over the planet.
This game over at berecycled.org gives you an idea of how reusable material is sorted
and how different machines get the job done.
Although the game isn't totally accurate to how a recycling plant looks, each of the
machines' jobs reflect a step in the recycling process.
The Disc screens represent a much longer process of separating and sorting paper and cardboard
that involves vibrating a giant container full of all the recyclables, which separates
the paper from heavier materials.
The Gravity sorter represents the glass bottles that are allowed to fall through due to their
These are destroyed and separated.
Next a big magnet pulls metal cans off the conveyor belt, and the optical scanners detect
plastic bottles and separate them from the conveyor with a gust of air.
So reusing our old stuff is great obviously, but what about the trash that doesn't get
Although there are plenty of materials that should be recycled but end up in the trash
anyway, there's a bunch of materials that can't be recycled: like food, plastic bags,
styrofoam, and some types of paper.
Most of this junk ends up in landfills, but a lot of it ends up in the ocean.
Though there aren't any Isle of Dogs style islands of garbage out on the high seas, there
is so much trash accumulated in certain spots, one of them has a name: The Great Pacific
Garbage Patch, also known by it's much cooler name: The Pacific Trash Vortex.
Theoceancleanup.com has a lot of great info on this crazy mess.
Due to the fact that most of the debris is tiny pieces of dissolved plastic, it may be
impossible to know exactly how much garbage is floating out there, but we have a pretty
close estimate thanks to various studies to determine its size that have been going on
Most estimates put it anywhere between seven hundred thousand to fifteen million square
Now that's a pretty big range of sizes: from the size of Texas to the size of Russia,
but the most generally accepted estimate is 1.2 million square kilometers.
A big reason why this kind of accumulation can occur is because of how long it takes
plastics to break down.
This chart on Planetaid.com shows how long it takes for organic materials to biodegrade
vs. their plastic counterparts.
Things like newspapers and apples will degrade in a few weeks to a few years, but a plastic
bag could take more than 500 years, and a typical glass bottle could take a million
years to break down.
The main reason plastics and other artificial materials take so long to break down - if
they break down at all - is that after being taken from petroleum and heated, they create
very strong carbon-carbon bonds.
Creating these bonds is incredible time and energy intensive, so in nature most bonds
are made of "peptide" bonds, which usually consist of a carbon and nitrogen bond that
is easier to break down but also easier to make.
These are the bonds that the microbes that break down organic matter are used to seeing,
where the carbon-carbon bonds found in plastics are foreign and therefore unable to be processed.
It's getting pretty messy down here.
What if it were possible to just send all our trash into space?
Well the first problem would be the cost.
Writers at The Atlantic estimated it would take thirty three quadrillion dollars to get
all our garbage into orbit.
Maybe we can pull a wall-e and just leave and let the little robots take care of it.
I don't recommend running away from your problems, and space is scary, but if you really
want to leave, Flight Club can help you prepare for launch.
If you played Kerbal Space Program but were upset that you couldn't design every single
detail down to the decimal point, this website will scratch that rocket science itch.
It's an intensely detailed simulator for how to get a rocket into space, with everything
from stages to what kind of fuel you'll use.
I made a rocket of my own, let's see if I can get into space!
Ah nope I didn't make it.
I'm not a rocket scientist, sorry guys.
But even if we got up into space, we'd still be in good company, because there's a staggering
amount of trash in orbit.
Most of it, generally commercial satellites and probes from space missions, are still
in operation, but a lot of old stuff is still up there doing nothing, and you can see all
of it at stuffinspace.com.
It's all up there floating around in this giant cloud.
Just look at it.
If you click on any of the satellites, you can get a bunch of info on the mission that
launched it and what else was sent up on that mission.
There's an estimated half a million artificial satellites above our heads right now.
If we go even further out into space we can visit earth's only natural satellite, the
Although it's probably not fair to call it garbage, there's a lot of leftover pieces
of equipment left behind from the apollo missions, and you can check them out as well as the
exploration paths of the astronauts at Google Moon.
You can get info on what the missions were, what they left behind, and why it couldn't
be brought back.
Alright this has been fun, but I'm going to go take out this trash, it's starting
If you want to take out the trash too, I have good news!
This game: Garbage truck, tasks you with racing to the finish line without spilling any of
your garbage or destroying your truck.
There is actually an incredible amount of garbage truck driving simulators.
You can check all of them out in the description, as well as all the other Dongs in this video.
There's a playlist of dongs right here
Don't forget to stay in school. Recycle. Speaking of recycling.
Our good friend iDubbbz made a video recently about yoplait containers for yogurt.
and how squirrels get their heads stuck in them, and that it's killing them.
So we'll also link to idubbbz video down there. It's great. The man loves squirrels.
and ya know what I love you. all of you. and Ian.
But all of you. What do I do with my hands.
and as always, thanks for garbage.