Be Earth-friendly every day

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, April 19, 2012

Since its humble beginnings in 1970 as a way to educate people about the environment and the need to protect it, Earth Day has grown to a global event.

Set on April 22 each year, Earth Day sparks a week of activities focused education and action.

But really, we should celebrate the concepts of Earth Day year round. And one of the easiest ways to do that is to recycle. Consider this:

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• The average American uses 650 pounds of paper each year – 100 million tons of wood could be saved each year if all that paper was recycled.

Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.

• A typical family consumes 182 gallons of soda, 29 gallons of juice, 104 gallons of milk, and 26 gallons of bottled water a year. That’s a lot of containers that can all be recycled!

• About 80 percent of what Americans throw away is recyclable, yet our recycling rate is only 28 percent.

• Every month Americans throw out enough glass bottles and jars to fill up a giant skyscraper (think: Empire State Building), but all of these jars are recyclable!

• Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures a year! Ever heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s twice the size of Texas and is floating somewhere between San Francisco and Hawaii. It’s also 80 percent plastic, and weighs in at 3.5 million tons.

• Recycling one ton (about 2,000 pounds) of paper saves 17 trees, two barrels of oil (enough to run the average car for 1,260 miles), 4,100 kilowatts of energy (enough power for the average home for six months), 3.2 cubic yards of landfill space, and 60 pounds of pollution.

• The 17 trees saved by recycling one ton of paper can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the air each year.

• If all of our newspapers were recycled, we could save about 250 million trees each year! If every American recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we could save about 25 million trees each year.

More than 20 million Hershey’s Kisses are wrapped each day, using 133 square miles of aluminum foil. Believe it not, ALL that foil is recyclable, but not many people realize it so most of it goes in the trash!

• Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours. In spite of this, Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild our entire commercial fleet of airplanes every three months!

So as Earth Day nears, consider what you can do to reuse and recycle. One small act can make a real difference.

You can pick up recycling bags at Troy City Hall and Troy Public Library.