Individual Family Contribution to Paper Pollution in Cache County

Carroll Porter Latham, Utah State University

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Paper waste discarded by families of five persons in Cache County was studied for two seven-day periods. The sample consisted of 19 families comprised of a father who was employed full-time, a mother, and three children living at home. A background questionnaire was administered to each family for the purpose of describing the sample.

Sample families were given (1) plastic bags for storing of paper wastes and (2) bathroom tissue, the unused portion of which was collected with the other paper discards. The weight of all paper discards was tabulated for each family and an average was tabulated for families and individuals.

The highest and lowest total paper weights recorded for the 14 days were 55 pounds 6 ounces and 12 pounds 5 ounces respectively. The national average of solid waste discards per person per day is approximately 5.3 pounds, over 1/2 of 2.65 pounds of which is estimated to be paper. This sample had an average of 1 pound 12 ounces per family per day and 5 1/2 ounces per person per day. The large variance between national and sample averages may be due to the following factors:

(1) the light weight of the local newspapers as compared to newspapers from other localities; (2) although 110 magazines entered sample homes each month only seven magazines were discarded during the two seven-day collection periods; (3) sixty-three percent of the sample families raised home gardens and 95 percent of the families preserved some foods at home while 63 percent preserved at least 50 percent of the food used in the home.

Less paper waste was discarded by families when (1) the father was in the labor occupational group; (2) the mother was non-employed; (3) only one newspaper was subscribed to by the family; (4) a home garden was cultivated and harvested; and (5) some food was preserved at home.