Recession leads to less garbage


The recession is having at least one positive impact in California -- less garbage, according to an Associated Press story.

The story points out that there is less waste because people are buying fewer items, eat out less, and construction waste has dropped with the housing market.

While all that may be true, I'd venture a guess that landfills will see more stuff coming in as more people lose their jobs. Why? Without a job to go to, more unemployed people are home doing household chores, such as cleaning out the garage, especially during a recession, as I reported on WalletPop last week about a study on how the unemployed spend their time.

For now, at least, landfills around California are seeing less garbage, with drops in San Francisco, San Diego and Puente Hills near Los Angeles. That's led to some savings, such as Los Angeles collecting 6% less trash in the last three months, saving the city more than $400,000 in fees to the dump.

Another related effect of the recession on trash is that it may hurt California's efforts to reuse most of its waste. More recyclables are ending up in landfills now as commodity prices have fallen, leaving cities with less money from their recycling programs.

California law calls for half of all trash to be diverted from dumps, and the glut of recycling going to the dump instead of being recycled may lower the percentage being diverted.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at