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It’s Earth Day! Don’t Trash This Page!

April 22, 2014

We probably should’ve just recycled an article from one of our books…but we didn’t. Here are some fascinating facts and statistics on recycling (and trash).

  • Earth Day and Recycling FactsCurbside recycling programs started becoming widely adopted in the U.S. in the early 1990s. Today, about 87 percent of the country has regular access to recycling programs. It’s been effective, too—recycling of paper and paper products has increased by a whopping 90 percent in the last 20 years.
  • Overall, about a third of all waste is recycled in some way. That equates to 82 million tons of un-trashed trash, resulting in greenhouse gas reductions equivalent to the exhaust of 33 million cars.
  • Recycling is a big industry. It provides more than a million jobs, and puts more than $200 billion into the economy each year.
  • How much trash do you generate every day? If you’re an average American, about four pounds. In a year, Americans produce enough waste material to circle the planet 24 times.
  • How much does recycling one can do, really? Aluminum is very efficient. The energy saved is the same it would take to power an iPhone for 45 minutes. And new aluminum can be made out of as much as 95 percent recycled materials.
  • Glass is fully recyclable. So are most plastics. Nevertheless, nine million tons of glass are trashed every year. 25 million plastic water and soda bottles are tossed out…every hour.
  • Even more harrowing is that the U.S. throws away 21.5 million tons of food each year. That food could, of course, fed millions of starving people instead. Or, if it were still thrown away, it could’ve been composted, which would lead to a similar reduction in greenhouse gases as taking two million cars off the roads.
  • What do Seattle, Portland, and Berkeley, California, have in common? They’ve all banned Styrofoam food containers.
  • In March, Los Angeles became the biggest American city to ban plastic shopping bags. The state Senate is set to vote on a statewide ban.
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