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Thinking Green: Bits of Environmental Information

Cultureight has gathered useful bits of information about pollution, garbage disposal, consumer demands, natural resources from Twitter @ecogreentravel and beyondgreen.co.uk:

Pollution - Waste

  1. More than 100 million tons of plastic is being produced worldwide, but plastic takes up to 1,000 years to decompose.
  2. Recycle your mobile phone. In the UK, 15million mobile phones are replaced yearly - that's 1500 tonnes of landfill.
  3. In the UK, 8 billion plastic bags per year are used; each takes up to 500 years to decay in landfill; 8% of the world's extracted oil is used to make plastic.
  4. Every year in UK, vending machines dispense 3 billion polystyrene cups. Another 3 billion originate from other sources.
  5. 20 to 50 million metric tons of electronic waste are generated worldwide every year. Only 11.4% of this is recycled.
  6. Electronic waste is the fastest-growing waste stream. Americans throw out 130,000 computers every day, over 100M cellphones year.
  7. The Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch covers an area twice the size of the continental U.S. & holds almost 100 metric tons of garbage.
  8. America alone throw away 570 disposable diapers each second, and toss out enough aluminum cans to rebuild US commercial air fleet every three months.
  9. In the U.S., 2.5 mil plastic bottles every hour are thrown. And produces enough styrofoam cups annually to circle the earth 436 times.
  10. The World Bank reported that pollution causes 2.42 billion dollars worth of damage to Egyptian environment annually.
  11. The Coast Guard estimates that for United States waters sewage treatment plants discharge twice as much oil each year as tanker spills.
  12. The average American household uses 300 gallons of water daily, with many wasting thousands of gallons every year on lawn irrigation.

Pollution - Health Effects

  • Flights cause 3.5% of Britain's greenhouse gas emissions; if more flights are taken, by 2050 they'll cause at least 75%.
    1. Only 2.5% of the world's farm land is used to produce cotton, but more than a quarter of the world's pesticides are poured onto these crops, making them the most polluted - and polluting - on the planet.
    2. The risk of cancer from breathing diesel exhaust is about ten times more than ingesting all other toxic air pollutants combined.
    3. Diesel emissions contribute to over 70% of the cancer risk from air pollution in the USA – reported by Environmental Defense.
    4. The Boston area ranks number 5 in America for premature deaths due to diesel pollution annually – reported by the Clean Air Task Force.
    5. In Massachusetts alone, diesel emissions are responsible yearly for 450 premature deaths, 9900 asthma attacks, 13,000 respiratory symptoms in children.
    6. A recent study from Toronto Public Health estimates over 440 deaths a year in the city can be directly attributed to traffic emissions.
    7. Emissions from ocean-going ships contribute to approximately 60,000 deaths each year, mostly from heart and lung-related cancers.
    8. Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong rank within the world’s top 5 busiest ports, and experience higher impact from emissions-related health issues.
    9. According to the US-EPA, emissions from power plants contribute to over 2,800 lung cancer deaths and 38,200 heart attacks annually in the US.
    10. Only 1% of China’s 560 million city residents breathe air that is considered safe by the European Union
    11. China’s dirty air spreading across the globe as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by the factories and coal-fired power plants fall as acid rain.

    Natural Resources

    1. Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth. Save nine liters of water a minute, 26,000 liters per family each year.
    2. Drink tap water, using a filter jug if necessary. Avoid packaging and transport impacts of bottled water.
    3. Each tree produces enough oxygen for two people for the rest of their lives.
    4. The average bath uses about 80 liters of water, while the average shower uses roughly half that.
    5. At least 50 million acres of rain forest are lost every year, totaling an area the size of England, Wales and Scotland combined.
    6. The average American uses far more water than citizens of other countries – about 550 liters per day.
    7. Most Asian countries are expected to have severe water shortages by 2025.
    8. Less than 1% of the world’s freshwater is readily available for human use.
    9. If everyone on earth consumed as many resources as Americans do, we would need four planet earths to provide enough resources.
    10. Five percent of the world's population (the United States), consumes 25% of the world's resources.

    Plastics

    1. Plastic bags and other plastic thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year.

    Paper

    1. Over 350 million trees are cut down every year for the paper that's used in UK offices alone. Each office worker in the UK generates an average of 50 sheets of paper per day.
    2. In the US alone, they trash enough office paper to build a 12-foot wall form Los Angeles to New York City.
    3. 500,000 tones of junk mail ends up as landfill each year.
    4. Paper products make up the largest part of our trash, approximately 40%.
    5. If all of our newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year!

    Recycling

    1. Using water from Lake Ontario to cool its downtown city buildings, the Canadian city of Toronto has reduced its annual carbon dioxide emissions by around 80,000 tonnes.
    2. Recycling one aluminum can save enough energy to run a TV for three hours.
    3. In India, dirty plastic waste is used as binders in road construction and reportedly they help render roads pothole-free.
    4. A University of Toronto chemist, Doctor James Guillet, invented in 1971 a kind of plastic that decomposes within a reasonable time for as long as it is exposed to direct sunlight. By adding starch, plastic becomes biodegradable. When disposed of in landfills, it is attacked by bacteria that feed on starch. The bacteria break the plastic down into tiny particles that disappear harmlessly into the soil.

    Energy Savers

    1. Christmas tree lights can be very carbon-heavy, so use LED bulbs which are 90% more energy-efficient than regular incandescent bulbs.
    2. Draw curtains at dusk to trap warmth in and open them in the morning to benefit from solar heat.
    3. Keep the lids on pans when cooking. It'll take less time and save energy.
    4. Turn your TV and video off properly. They use 85% as much energy on standby as when switched on.
    5. Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need. Boiling one cup of water rather than a full kettle saves enough energy to power a low-energy light bulb for 9 hours.
    6. Lower your central thermostat one degree Celsius and cut your energy bills by 10%.
    7. LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights use up to 95% less energy than larger, traditional bulbs and lasts up to 100,000 hours.

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