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How Long It Takes to Degrade

Just For Kids

Informative Links

Recycling Facts

  • Every ton of recycled paper saves 380 gallons of oil and 7,000 gallons of water.
  • A ton of recycled paper will save enough energy to power the average American home for six months.
  • If only 100,000 people stopped their junk, mail, we could save up to 150,000 trees annually. If a million people did this, we could save up to a million and a half trees.
  • The junk mail Americans receive in one day could produce enough energy to heat 250,000 homes.
  • The average American still spends 8 full months of his/her life opening junk mail.
  • If every household brought their reusable shopping bag for one trip to the store, about 60,000 trees would be saved.
  • Each of us uses approximately one 100-foot-tall Douglas fir tree in paper and wood products per year.
  • By recycling one aluminum can, enough energy is saved to run a TV or computer for three hours or a 100-watt bulb for 20 hours.
  • Americans throw away enough aluminum every month to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet.
  • Americans throw away more than 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.
  • The 36 billion aluminum cans that were dumped into landfills last year had a scrap value of more than $600 million. (Some day, we may be mining our landfills for the resources we've buried!)
  • In 2006, Americans drank about 167 bottles of water each but only recycled an average of 23 percent. That leaves 38 billion water bottles in landfills.
  • The largest man-made structure in the world is the Fresh Kills Landfill serving New York City. It is now the highest point on the east coast.
  • It takes over 1.5 million barrels of oil to manufacture a year's supply of bottled water. That's enough oil to fuel 100,000 cars.
  • In 2007 we spent $16 billion on bottled water. That's more than we spent on iPods or movie tickets.
  • If all U.S. households installed water-efficient appliances, the country would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water and more than $18 billion dollars per year! 
  • If one out of every 100 American homes was retrofitted with water-efficient fixtures, we could save about 100 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year - avoiding 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The greenhouse gas savings would be equivalent to removing nearly 15,000 automobiles from the road for one year!
  • If just 1 percent of American homes replaced an older toilet with a new WaterSense labeled toilet, the country would save more than 38 million kilowatt-hours of electricity - enough electricity to supply more than 43,000 households for one month.

  • Letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours.

  • Leaky faucets that drip at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water each year; A leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water every day. If your fixtures have leaks, you should get them repaired!
  • Electricity production is the leading cause of industrial air pollution in the United States, and is responsible for 40 percent of the nation's carbon emissions that contribute to global climate change.
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are an energy-saving alternative to incandescent bulbs - they produce the same amount of light, use one third of the electricity, and last up to ten times as long.
  • Lighting consumes up to 34 percent of electricity in the United States.  If every household replaced its most often-used incandescent light bulbs with CFLs, electricity use for lighting could be cut in half.
  • Many idle electronics - TVs, VCRs, DVD and CD players, cordless phones, microwaves - use energy even when switched off to keep display clocks lit and memory chips and remote controls working. Nationally, these energy “vampires” use 5 percent of our domestic energy and cost consumers more than $8 billion annually.
  • Every year we make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap Texas.


How Long It Takes to Degrade

  • A banana peel:  3-4 weeks       
    • Alternative choice you could make:  Compost it!  (Then you’ll have a beautiful garden, too.)
  • A paper bag:  1 month
    • Alternative choice you could make:  Bring your reusable shopping bag(s) instead.  If you do get a paper bag, be sure to recycle it!
  • A piece of wood:  10-15 years       
    • Alternative choice you could make:  Reuse it or recycle it!
  • A leather shoe:  40-50 years      
    • Alternative choice you could make:  Donate your used shoes for reuse!
  • A tin can:  80-100 years    
    • Alternative choice you could make:  Recycle it!
  • An aluminum can:  200-500 years
    • Alternative choice you could make:  Recycle it!
  • A plastic water bottle:  1000 years      
    • Alternative choice you could make:  Recycle it!
  • A plastic jug:  1 million years   
    • Alternative choice you could make:  Recycle it!
  • Glass bottle:  Forever!
    • Alternative choice you could make:  Recycle it!
  • Styrofoam:  Forever!            
    • Alternative choice you could make:  Reduce - Rethink - Don't purchase things with styrofoam!

Just for Kids

Grownups are responsible to ensure that our water resources are well preserved for the benefit of future generations. However, there are a few things that kids should know about water quality, pollution prevention, and what effect our actions may have on creeks, rivers, bays, the ocean and all living creatures that live in such environments.  Below are some web sites that are specially designed for kids and describe what they can do to help solve the problem of storm water pollution.

arrow Find the Hidden Recyclables

arrow Recycle Word Search

arrow Environmental Protection Agency Storm Water Stickers

arrow Environmental Protection Agency Non Point Source

arrow Think Blue

arrow City of Long Beach Clean Water Division

arrow Monroe County Water Authority


Informative Links

Check out our sources for more fun facts and environmental information:


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