This month is not about the feel good side of recycling, it is all about laying out the facts and letting them sink in.  Many of us try to make a difference, but as a whole, we do not do enough.  The facts are not pretty, but they are facts and need to be dealt with.  Next month I will talk about the positives that can come from recycling, but for the next few weeks, I ask you to ponder what we are doing to our world.

• Each year, an estimated 500 billion single-use plastic bags are consumed worldwide, and more than 380 billion plastic bags are used each year in the United States alone.  Only 3 percent of plastic bags are recycled.

• Each year, more than 500 million ink cartridges are used in the United States – only 5 percent are recycled.

• An estimated 150 million cell phones are taken out of service each year, and less than 20 percent of them are recycled.

• Of the 4,500,000,000 pounds of computers, televisions and other electronic products discarded in 2007, an estimated 82 percent went to landfills.  Electronic waste, or e-waste, contains lead, mercury and other toxins that can contaminate the groundwater and soil.

• To produce each week’s Sunday newspapers, 500,000 trees must be cut down.

• The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.

• Americans throw away enough disposable plates and cups to give the world a picnic 6 times a year.

• Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour.  Every hour!

• A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water.

• Americans throw away enough office and writing paper annually to build a wall 12 feet high stretching from Los Angeles to New York City.

• The U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world.  Each person produces more than 1,600 pounds per year.  This means that 5% of the world’s people generate 40% of the world’s waste.

Like a pebble in a pond, one voice can ripple through the crowd – do you have that voice?  Shouldn’t we all?