Eye-Opening Facts

1. Every year Americans drink more than 100 billion cups of coffee. Of these, 14.4 billion are served in disposable paper cups, enough to wrap the Earth 55 times if placed end to end. [Green Mountain Coffee Roasters web site]

Tip: use the refillable Easy Traveler cup.

2. Americans will throw away 30.9 billion disposable coffee cups this year. Polystyrene cups aren't biodegradable, and neither are most paper cups. "They're lined with a petroleum-based product, which isn't compostable," says Paul Comey of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Use ceramic mugs at home and carry a travel mug when needed. Many coffee shops offer a discount to those who supply their own cups. [Peggy Boujaily Cooking Light, April 2008]

3. That petrochemical in the plastic lining of the paper coffee cups would produce enough energy to heat 8,300 homes for a year. [Go Green, Live Rich by David Bach]

4. A 2007 article by Charles Fishman in Fast Company reports that North Americans spent $15 billion on bottled water in 2006. You could save $500 a year by breaking the bottle-a-day water habit.

5. In 2006, containers and packaging accounted for almost 80 million tons (more than 31%) of all solid municipal waste. [Go Green, Live Rich by David Bach]

Tip: try to purchase items with as little packaging as possible, and look for packaging that is recyclable.

6. Even though between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide, paper bags might be worse than plastic. According to the Institute for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment, even though Americans recycled nearly 20% of paper bags (compared to less than 1% of plastic), one paper bag takes more energy and creates more waste than two plastic bags.

Tip: at the grocery store, use reusable cloth bags; most stores offer a discount per bag.

7. Every day in the United States, roughly 690,000 tons of materials are dumped in landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And only a small fraction of that is legitimate waste.

Tip: reuse, recycle, resell, and regift as much as possible.

8. The aluminum cans we throw away each year use up the equivalent of 16 million barrels of oil, enough to fuel one million cars for one year. [Go Green, Live Rich by David Bach]

9. America's convention and meeting industry is a $107 billion industry serving 136.5 million people attending 1.2 million business events each year. The typical convention-goer who is staying at a hotel generates about 20 pounds of trash per day, compared to 4.6 pounds at home. The total trash generated by convention-goers is 730,000 tons per year - enough to fill eight Transamerica Pyramids, according to a 2000 Environmental Protection Agency study. [San Francisco Chronicle, February 2008]

10. Takeout food packaging creates 1.8 million tons of trash in the United States every year.

Tip: save $2250 (and the landfills) by bringing your lunch in a reusable bag [Go Green, Live Rich by David Bach]

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