The current recession was fairly clear to a certain segment of the population as far back as late 2007, the Washington Post reports—landfill operators. Since then, dumps and garbage collectors have seen a steep drop-off in trash—in some cases up to 30%—along with their own jobs. It's a sure sign of a drop in consumer consumption. People are fixing instead of replacing, which cuts down on all that packaging they need to throw out.
“Circuit City's closing, so people aren't going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Styrofoam and shrink-wrap,” one operator said. “And whatever they were replacing.” The recession-spurred rise of reuse also means less clothes and other goods in landfills, which makes at least one trashman a little rueful: “Normally garbage is a pretty steady business because everybody wants to get rid of it.”