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Kaid Benfield’s Blog

Ever wonder what happens to your trash?

Kaid Benfield

Posted January 13, 2012

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  discarded trash (courtesy of SENSEable City Lab, MIT)

In August 2009, a team of researchers from the SENSEable City Lab in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning embarked on a major project to track the journey of 3,000 items of waste as they moved through Seattle’s disposal system.  The goal of the project, called Trash Track, was to monitor the patterns and costs of urban disposal and to help create awareness of the impact of trash on the environment.

The results are both amazing and staggering to see and contemplate.  Watch this 2-minute video to see how an ink cartridge and cell phone discarded in Seattle, for example, end up in Mexico and south Florida:


For more about Trash Track, which won an international award for visualization, start here.

Move your cursor over the images for credit information.

Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog's home page.  Please also visit NRDC’s sustainable communities video channel.

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Barbara McCannJan 13 2012 11:36 AM

Wow. I had no idea that trash disposal was so clearly a transportation issue. This stuff really moves around!

Kirstin GrayJan 14 2012 02:28 PM

How amazing to see how far and wide our trash goes. Let's hope that as people see this they will give more thought to recycling.

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