In honor of Earth Day, here are some fun or not so fun facts:
* We, as Americans, make up 5% of the world's population but use 25% of the world's resources.
* Americans use over one billion plastic bottles a week.
* Plastic takes up to 500 years to decompose.
* In one year, we generate enough hazardous waste to fill the New Orleans Superdome 1,500 times over.
* In 1987, Americans generated almost enough trash to fill a 24-lane highway one foot deep from Boston to Los Angeles. Disposable diapers alone make up enough trash to fill a barge half a city block long, every six hours, every day! (Can you imagine how those numbers have changed today?)
* Each person throws away approximately four pounds of garbage every day.
* The amount of wood and paper we throw away is enough to heat 50 million homes for 20 years.
* 14 billion pounds of trash is dumped into the ocean every year.
* Computers pose an environmental threat because much of the material that makes them up is hazardous. A typical monitor contains 4-5 pounds of lead.
I'm certainly not one to say you must change your lifestyle and be green but there's gotta be at least one thing you can do. One less paper towel a day, bring your own coffee cup to work, catch a ride with a friend. One thing across the span of the world can change a lot!
And here's Jean Engle's letter to the Vindy editor, courtesy Youngstown Moxie:
[O]ur individual choices magnified a billion-fold add up to disaster for the planet. We in the post-industrial nations won’t feel the pain in our own lives for a while. If I read the papers or listen to the news, I’ll know that the Haitians are starving, right in our Caribbean back yard, in part because the price of staples like corn has skyrocketed, now that corn is going into wealthy nations’ gas tanks and not into poor nations’ bellies. I’ll know that the Arctic ice cap is melting rapidly and that the magnificent polar bear is probably doomed. But those of us in relatively privileged nations will be the last left standing, and, while the fate of the polar bear is tragic, there seems to be little we can do to prevent it. Maybe the zoos can keep them going for a while.
So is that all? Do I just shrug and walk away from it? Do I just go fill up the tank and run some errands, buy some more stuff to distract me from the pain I might feel? Maybe. Or maybe I join the millions of people who are finding ways to do things differently, in ways that sustain the environment rather than deplete it. Maybe I change my incandescent light bulbs to low-consumption compact fluorescents; maybe I put up a clothesline — the original solar dryer; maybe I turn lights off when I’m not in the room; maybe I install an on-demand water heater in my house; maybe I plant some new trees in my yard; maybe I ride my bike for short errands and carpool or take a bus to work (and vote for the WRTA levy); maybe I get involved with non-profits like Treez Please and Grow Youngstown that are working to make a difference at the local level.
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