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Recycling the Recyling Theme

The common rule of thumb is that one ton of recycled paper can save:

  • 17 trees
  • 380 gallons of oil
  • 3 cubic yards of landfill space
  • 4000 kilowatts of energy
  • 7000 gallons of water
This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution!

Task: For a school (or district...or all schools within a state), estimate the number of pounds (or tons) of paper that could be recycled in one year....and thus, the energy savings, water savings, lowering of air polution, landfill savings, and number of trees saved.

Now, consider these additional paper recycling facts...and you can then make up your own questions/answers!

  • To produce each week's Sunday newspapers, 500,000 trees must be cut down. (What is current impact of newspapers folding and newspapers being read on-line?)
  • Recycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times would save 75,000 trees.
  • If all our newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year! If every American recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we would save about 25,000,000 trees a year.
  • If you had a 15-year-old tree and made it into paper grocery bags, you'd get about 700 of them. A busy supermarket could use all of them in under an hour! This means in one year, one supermarket can go through over 6 million paper bags! So, what is the savings of supermarket "selling" paper bags for 5 cents/bag?
  • The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees. This amounts to about 2,000,000,000 trees per year!
  • The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.
  • Approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S.
  • Americans use 85,000,000 tons of paper a year; about 680 pounds per person. This means just under 2 pounds per day per person...where is all of this paper showing up?
  • The average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year. Most is packaging and junk mail.
  • The 17 trees saved (in above claim) can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year. Burning that same ton of paper would create 1500 pounds of carbon dioxide.
  • The construction costs of a paper mill designed to use waste paper is 50 to 80% less than the cost of a mill using new pulp.
A lot to think about...but do your calculations in your head rather than on paper!

Source: A Recycling Revolution