Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Waste by the Numbers

Here's something to think about...

The United States is the world's top consumer nation. Americans spend about 4x more per person than any other country. And we do it largely by shopping. We shop, on average, every day for about twenty-four minutes, spending a total of $4 trillion per year--on everything from mustard to muscle-cars.

The psychology of shopping is embedded in our brains: more, more, more. The mentality fills the closets and the ego but doesn't take into account the other side of the shopping equation--where does all that stuff go?

Each of us produces about 4.54 pounds of trash every day through our consumption and disposal habits, amounting to 1,657 pounds per person per year. With 6.6 billion on the planet (and growing...), all eventually apt to buy something and throw it away, shopping poses a real hazard.

So what to do about it?

Here's a few simple suggestions, each of which involve the least amount of effort on your part (perfect!):

1. "Paper or plastic?" Shout it out: PAPER! While neither choice is ideal (it's best to sack your croceries in reusable organic cotton totes), paper bags have a higher likelihood of being recycled and reused. My favorite quote in the world can be found on one of Factory Green's eco-totes: "F*@k Plastic!"

2. Try to buy products with minimal to no packaging. If just 1 out of 10 products you bought had little or no packaging, it would eliminate more than fifty pounds of waste per household per year. If every household did this, 5.5 billion fewer pounds of waste would enter landfills. That's enough garbage to cover all of New York City's Central Park to a depth of 27 feet!

3. Switch to bathroom tisuse made from 100% recycled paper. Yes, even good ol' fashion "butt paper" can harm our planet. If every household replaced just a single twelve-roll pack of regular bathroom tissue (aka glorious butt paper) with a recycled variety, it would save almost 5 million trees and enough paper waste to fill 17,000 garbage trucks!


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