Reuters

A group of MIT scientists chronicles the long, sad journey of our waste

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.

This post originally appeared on the NRDC's Switchboard blog. Photo credit: Robert Galbraith/Reuters

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Transportation

    You Can’t Design Bike-Friendly Cities Without Considering Race and Class

    Bike equity is a powerful tool for reducing inequality. Too often, cycling infrastructure is tailored only to wealthy white cyclists.

  2. Equity

    The FBI's Forgotten War on Black-Owned Bookstores

    At the height of the Black Power movement, the Bureau focused on the unlikeliest of public enemies: black independent booksellers.

  3. Design

    A History of the American Public Library

    A visual exploration of how a critical piece of social infrastructure came to be.

  4. Design

    There’s a Tile Theft Epidemic in Lisbon

    With a single azulejo fetching hundreds of euros at the city’s more reputable antique stores, these tiles, sitting there out in the open, are easy pickings.

  5. Amazon HQ2

    Without Amazon HQ2, What Happens to Housing in Queens?

    The arrival of the tech company’s new headquarters was set to shake up the borough’s real estate market, driving up rents and spurring displacement. Now what?