Widely considered to be the first sanitary landfill in the U.S., the Fresno garbage dump, which opened in 1937, has the dubious distinction of being named to both the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and the nation’s list of Superfund sites. That’s a funny pair of categories to straddle, but it illustrates an important point: Trash is a starring character in the American story, even as we continue to wrestle with its consequences.
Sometimes, trash can be an anthropologist’s goldmine. Unearthing garbage can illuminate the patterns of daily life. And a new interactive map by the electricity company SaveOn Energy charts America’s ballooning trash habits over the course of the past century. Using EPA data, the map reveals a lot about how much we throw away, and where.