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Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability

plant in blue and white pot within officeThere was a time when the act of recycling was a fringe activity, taken up by fanatical environmentalists in liberal communities. Today, Americans recycle 34% of all the waste generated in the United States, and most municipalities offer some sort of recycling program for their residents. Recycling has become an easy way to reduce carbon emissions, protect natural-resources, and even save money. Here are six fun facts you probably didn’t know about recycling.



Recycling has its own national day

America Recycles Day is a nationally recognized day of service. It is sponsored by Keep America Beautiful, and celebrates and promotes recycling throughout the United States. Events are held across the country and feature demonstrations, neighborhood clean-ups, yard-sales and ce


Aluminum recycling program is one of the most successful

The Aluminum recycling program in the United States is one of the most successful to date. More than 100 thousand cans were recycled every minute in 2010, adding up to a total of 53 billion aluminum cans. By contrast, an estimated one billion dollars worth of cans made their way into landfills in the same year. The life-cycle of an aluminum can is about 60 days, which means it is bought, used, recycled, and made back into another can in two short months.

Making glass from recycled glass saves energy

Making glass is an expensive and labor-intensive process. Glass made from raw materials includes the use of large of amounts of sand, soda ash, limestone and feldspar. For every ton of glass products that are recycled, a ton of these natural resources are conserved for future generations. Making glass from recycled-glass saves energy because the recycled glass melts at a lower temperature.

Only 50% of paper is recycled

About 90% of Americans have access to curbside or municipal paper-recycling programs, but only 50% of paper is actually recycled. Most of the paper mills in the United States now rely on recycled paper to make new paper. It takes more than 20 trees to make a ton of paper. Using recycled scrap-paper saves 7,000 gallons of water per ton of paper produced. This amounts to a 60% energy savings when making paper from paper, instead of virgin wood-pulp.

Americans use more plastic than any industrialized nation

Plastic recycling in the United States is growing by leaps and bounds, but it still has a long way to go to be truly successful. Americans use more plastic products than any industrialized nation. In 2009, Americans generated almost 30-million tons of plastic waste, but only around 6% was recycled. Plastic bottles are recycled most often, at a rate of 28%. Using recycled plastic instead of raw materials conserves energy by 84%.

Most electronics are recyclable

About 25% of broken electronics were recycled in 2009, including computers, televisions and cell-phones. Many electronics consist of multiple recyclable components including, metals, glass and plastics. Recycling is an easy way to reduce carbon emissions, preserve natural resources and reduce energy consumption.

Informational credit to D. C. Metals & Recycling.

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The US has less than five percent of the population, but makes up 25 percent of the worlds fossil fuel consumption per year. (Source: World Watch Institute)


Pollution and Waste


  • Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to power a television for four hours!
  • We use over 80,000,000,000 aluminum pop cans every year.
  • If all our newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year!
  • American throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam coffee cups every year.
  • Every year enough trash is carried down the LA River to fill the Rosebowl.
  • An aluminum can that is thrown away will still be a can 500 years from now!
  • Approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S.
  • Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour! Most of them are thrown away!
  • Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year!
  • America is the number one producer of greenhouse gasses in the world.
  • The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.




  • There are 143,781,202 cars in the United States (source: USDOT)
  • The US has less than five percent of the population, but makes up 25 percent of the worlds fossil fuel consumption per year. (Source: World Watch Institute)
  • In 2003 there were more cars in the US than licensed drivers.
  • New homes in the US are 38% bigger now than they were in 1975. This is despite the size of the average household falling (source: World Watch Institute).
  • To produce each week's Sunday newspapers, 500,000 trees must be cut down.
  • The number of people in the US surpassed 300 million this year. This is nothing compared to a world population over 6 billion.