What is the impact of recycling? Does it really make a difference? Americans spend over $50,000 annually on household expenditures. It is no wonder that it is sometimes easy to forget to recycle the small things such as newspapers, jugs, toilet paper rolls and junk mail.
However, the accumulation of everyday office, household and retail trash, otherwise known as Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), does add up. The average amount of waste each person generates per day is 4.38 pounds. The amount of waste produced per household daily is 11.43 pounds.
During the course of a year, the waste generated per household is 4,172 pounds, which is the same weight as a white rhinoceros. The average amount of waste that Americans produce nationwide each year is an astounding 251 million tons.
Approximately 75 percent of national MSW, over 188 million tons, is recyclable, but Americans only recycle 65 million tons. The remaining 135 million tons end up in landfills. How can we reduce the waste that ends up in landfills? Currently, the average person recycles 1.14 pounds per day.
If everyone doubled the amount they recycle, the nation could recycle 65 million more tons. That is the same weight as 176,871 Boeing 747 jets! Recycling has made tremendous strides in the last three decades.
Change is possible when every individual contributes more than they currently do to make our world a green community. Take a glimpse at the infographic below for more information.
Green Burials: Green Your Grave – Then Recycle It
This Halloween as death abounds — in the form of ghosts, zombies, and vampires — a new trend is in the rise. Across the country and around the world, green burials are increasing in popularity.
In their simplest form, green burials are reminiscent of pre-20th century burials — funerals at home, a shroud, eco-friendly urn or wooden casket, and natural embalming fluid. And because they use fewer and less expensive resources, green funerals often cost less than traditional ones.
Intrigued? Read on to learn more about what makes a burial green.
photo credit: Orin Zebest
Going Green in the Grave
According to the Green Burial Council, a US-based nonprofit dedicated to “environmentally sustainable deathcare,” a green burial:
- involves a casket, urn, and/or shroud that is biodegradable and make of nontoxic materials
- includes nontoxic, natural embalming fluids (think essential oils) rather than traditional formaldehyde
- doesn’t require a concrete vault — transportation and production of vaults have big carbon footprints
- has the option of a home funeral
Read NPR’s Burials and Cemeteries Go Green for an excellent overview of and FAQs about green burials.
Always Practical: Germans Recycle Graves
On a related note, in Germany, they’re taking recycling to a whole new level — they’re recycling graves. Rather than buying plots, Germans rent them. And if they rent isn’t paid, the cemetery has the right to repossess it… and reuse it. In concept, I like this idea. Dead bodies weren’t really using that space, anyway.
Then again, I’m not sure how I’d feel about walking into a cemetery, flowers in hand, only to discover there’s someone named Adelaide Richter now residing in my grandfather’s grave.