Why Can’t We Just Dump Our Trash Into Space?
As easy and effective it sounds, it isn’t quite that simple, and it’s rather expensive. You see, the amount of garbage we produce a year is so big that sending out a small portion of it to space would cost trillions. Instead, we could use that money and recycle it.
Earth’s Garbage Problem
We all know that garbage production is one of the major problems we face today. How big of a problem is it in reality? The recent numbers show that the total amount of garbage produced every year is as massive as 2.12 trillion tonnes, and this number just keeps getting larger and larger.
An average person generates about 1kg of waste a day, though this amount ranges from 0.11kg to 4.54kg, and globally, we make about 650,000 tons of waste each day. To put it in perspective, this is about 100 elephants or five cargo ships. Then again, this accounts for only 16 percent of the world’s population, and high-income countries make about 34 percent of the world’s waste or 680 million tonnes.
It is estimated that by 2100, the number will rise to four billion tonnes. The main problem that is causing this number to grow is that 99 percent of the stuff we buy is thrown into the trash within six months. Now, how could we possibly be able to send all this waste into space, and what’s stopping us? In simple terms — we could. However, it would cost a lot of money, and the amount of resources needed to do such a task would be enormous — it would be a pure waste.
Space Exploration Has Never Been Easy
Science fiction has been intriguing us with space travel for decades, but fortunately for us, it has become a lot easier to finally do some space exploration. With recent breakthroughs of private companies such as SpaceX, we might even finally experience private space travel.
Even though there have been advances in the field of space travel, it hasn’t become much easier. There is still so much that we have to overcome to safely send out a rocket into space. In addition to all the possible problems that can occur during launch, there are many other possible issues that can happen after the rocket reaches space. Thankfully, we have our top engineers and scientists working hard to find all of those potential problems and figure out a way to tackle them so that we can have a safe and successful launch.
After all that, we can finally talk about how much it would cost to send someone or something into space. A single launch costs $450 million, and the price of a ticket highly depends on whether you want to reach zero gravity, which would cost about $250k, or if you actually want to visit a space station, which would cost $60 million and another $35k a night.
Money Is the Problem
If we were to decide to go with such a plan of throwing our waste into space and sending our garbage into the Sun, the math would go like this. It has been estimated that it would cost roughly 22k dollars per kilogram of waste to even lift it into the Earth’s orbit and around 220k to send it close to the Moon. Even if we could somehow magically reduce this number by a factor of ten, it would still be thousands of dollars to launch the waste into space.
By some recent assessments, the United States alone makes about 225 million metric tonnes of waste in a single day. So launching all that waste into space would cost the United States 225 trillion dollars only for a day. This is quite an insane number, considering how much an average person earns a year.
Even if we managed to send it all up there, many problems could come up. There could be issues with the rocket launch — the most successful rocket launch was the Soyuz rocket, and even that mission had a failure rate of 3%. A single mistake could lead to a catastrophic failure, or if we succeed in sending it, it could hit a satellite or — even worse — come down back to us. So let’s check out the alternatives.
There are many alternatives that each of us can do to help reduce the amount of waste we make each year. However, unless big corporations and the countries that produce the most of the world trash do something about it, we are going to be in big trouble and possibly in need of a new planet. So who’s ready to colonize Mars?
Of course, the first and most important alternative that we can invest our money into is recycling and being eco-friendly. To make recycling easy, we have to find a way to make the things we produce easier to recycle. Electronics are some of the things that are the hardest to recycle because they are composed of many different materials and components, and we would need a lot of money and time to disassemble all of that.
To tackle that problem, we can start by making everything reusable, recyclable, and that way, we can minimize the landfills. Once we run out of places to throw our trash, we are really going to have to think about colonizing Mars. As mentioned before, this would neither be easy nor cheap.
Instead of solving our garbage problems by sending it into space, we should rather focus on preserving the planet we live on and finding better ways to manage our waste. Having our garbage in space is no better than sweeping it under the rug.