You may think you’re a small fish in a big pond when it comes to doing your part to save the environment, but the truth is your efforts add up. Still, you may wonder if you could do more. Knowing a few interesting facts about going green may help you learn to become a better steward of the planet.
Green Gardening Facts
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, American homeowners lay out more cash to maintain their lawns than the average farmer spends on each acre of crop. What’s more, the average homeowner uses up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre than the farmer. Pesticide residues are transported through the air and surface water runoff, and may even reach natural wetlands and streams that are several miles away. Gardening organically, without using chemical-based pesticides, reduces this negative impact on the water table.
Benefits of Recycling
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, estimates that roughly 80 percent of what Americans toss into the trash is recyclable but, as a nation, the recycling rate is only 28 percent. However, the EPA asserts that recycling programs produce multiple benefits on both a local and global scale. Aside from preserving natural resources, recycling programs create jobs. In fact, the University of Colorado Recycling Services says that recycling 1 ton of paper creates five times more jobs than the number of manufacturing jobs needed to produce the same amount of paper from raw materials. Recycling also decreases the need to reserve land for landfills and reduces carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to the effects of global warming.
According to EcoCycle.org, going green has enormous payoffs in terms of preserving natural resources and saving energy. For example, for each ton of paper recycled, 17 trees are spared. On an annual basis this equates to 500,000 trees. If each American recycled their Sunday newspaper each week, 26 million trees would be saved each year. Recycling 1 ton of paper also keeps 60 lbs. of carbon emissions out of the atmosphere and saves enough electricity and fossil fuel to keep the lights on for six months in the average home and fuel the average family car for more than 1,200 miles.
Household Usage Facts
If each American household used a single roll of 100 percent recycled bathroom tissue instead of the typical 1,000-sheet roll made from virgin fibers, 373,000 trees and 155 million gallons of water would be saved, according to green product manufacturer Seventh Generation Co. In addition, 1.48 million cubic feet of land otherwise destined to become a landfill site would be saved.
Each aluminum can recycled in the United States saves enough energy to power a television set for about three hours. Yet, Americans toss so many aluminum cans in the garbage that the nation’s entire fleet of commercial airplanes could be rebuilt from the same amount of material every three months, according to the University of Colorado Recycling Services.
Green Living Tips
Going green takes as much community involvement as it does personal commitment. That means in addition to recycling, reducing and reusing materials at home, green initiatives must be taken in neighborhoods, schools and the workplace too. The EPA provides numerous resources for private citizens, as well as business entities, nonprofit organizations, and state and local governments.