Friday, 23 August 2013

50 Facts About Your Environment

As people become more aware of our changing environment and their part within it, the interest in information and facts on environmental and green issues has grown.  We have put together a list of 50 such facts, titbits, and pieces of information.  We hope that you will enjoy learning about our world, the environment, and how we all interact with it! 


The global area of oxygen depleted dead zone now covers an area roughly the size of the state of Oregon.  These are areas of water that have become uninhabitable due to a lack of oxygen for marine life to breathe.  Learn more.

The air quality in China is so low that by European Union standards, only 1% of the population is breathing air that is considered safe.  This has led to cancer becoming the main cause of death in China.  Learn more.

The Pacific Ocean is home to various island chains, the Great Barrier Reef, beautiful resorts … and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  This is a mass of waste and garbage that has formed, covering an area twice the size of the continental United States and weighing an approximate 100 million tons.  Learn more. 

In the last 100 years, ocean levels have risen by almost 18 cm.  They had not changed previously in over 2,000 years.  Learn more.

There are many clothing material alternatives today.  Cork has been used as a leather alternative, bamboo grows quickly enough to replenish itself, and silk made from soy is being used in high fashion.  All of these use no chemicals and are renewable material resources.  Learn more.

For every organic cotton t-shirt you purchase instead of a normal manufactured one, you help eliminate the need for 150 grams of agricultural chemicals.  Learn more. 

The best estimate of the age of the Earth is 4.6 billion years.  If this was scaled into 46 years, humanity would have only existed for 4 hours.  The Industrial Revolution would be 1 minute old.  It is in this minute where the majority of environmental damage has occurred.  Learn more.

Environmental damage is, for the most part, reversible.  It requires awareness and a desire to actually realize change.  It also requires time.  Learn more.

Changing 75 light bulbs to energy efficient bulbs will prevent 1 ton of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere annually.  Learn more.

Roughly over 15% of electricity used in the United States goes towards air conditioning.  Learn more. 

Canada contains 25% of the world’s wetlands, 10% of the world’s forests, and 7% of the world’s renewable fresh water.  Learn more.

Only 11% of the Earth’s surface is used for growing food.  The land available for food growing is decreasing.  Learn more. 


If Australia tapped into only 1% of their potential geothermal energy, they could provide enough energy to last 26,000 years.  The Australian Geothermal Energy Association is hoping to produce up to 2,200 MW of geothermal energy by 2020, representing over 40% of the government’s renewable energy target.  Learn more. 

The United States is building enough wind turbines to provide 20% of their energy requirements.  Learn more.

In 1990, history was made when an aircraft flew across the United States with no fuel.  It was a solar powered aircraft and required 21 stages to complete the flight.  Learn more. 

The use of nuclear energy has increased in the United States.  Fifty years ago, there were no nuclear power plants.  Today, more than 20% of America’s electrical energy comes from nuclear energy.  Learn more.

The United States is planning to double energy efficiency by 2030.  This will equal a savings of $327 billion.  Learn more.

If the United States is able to achieve their double energy efficiency goal, carbon dioxide emissions will decrease by 4 billion metric tons.  Learn more.

Some countries are making big changes.  Iceland is on the path toward zero fossil fuel usage by 2050, Switzerland has some cities that are carless, and China has been able to lower their plastic bag usage by 50%.  Learn more. 

By signing up for a 100% renewable energy plan, you will avoid pumping more 7,250 kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.  Learn more.

Hydropower is relatively cheaper than most other forms of energy.  Washington State in the United States gets 66% of their electrical energy from hydro and has one of the lowest costs for energy in the country.  Learn more.

The screensaver on your computer’s monitor is not an energy saver.  Put your computer into a sleep mode when not in use.  This will save up to 500 kW per year from your home energy bill.  Learn more.

For every 1 MW of increased wind energy capacity, 4.85 full time jobs are created in clean renewable energy.  Learn more.

The greatest source of renewable energy in the United States currently comes from biomass.  Approximately 1.5 million homes are powered by biomass.  Learn more.

The first hydroelectric dam built in the world was in Niagara Falls, Canada.  It was constructed in 1879.  Learn more. 

One of the first known uses of solar energy was by British astronomer John Herschel.  In 1830, he used a solar collector box to cook food while on an expedition in Africa.  Learn more.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

One ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees from being cut down, 2 barrels of oil, 4,100 kW of energy, 3.2 cubic yards of landfill area, and 60 lbs. of air.  Learn more.

Paper can be recycled up to seven times before the fibres are too soft.  Learn more. 

Kitchener, Canada was the first city in the world to create a curbside recycling program for their citizens.  It began in 1981.  Learn more.

Per capita generation of waste has decreased in the United States since 1990.  Learn more.

If every newspaper was recycled, 250 million trees could be saved each year.  Currently, only 27% of newspapers are recycled.  Learn more.

Over 75% of the materials used to make a car are recyclable.  Learn more.

Guess what?  Most mail delivery services will take old packing peanuts for reusing.  Office supply stores will also take old printer ink cartridges and refill them.  Two more things removed from your garbage!  Learn more.

Your old glasses can be donated.  Many charities take old glasses and send them to developing nations.  More than 284 million people who need glasses cannot afford them.  Learn more. 

Reuse our old ink cartridges by taking them to centres to be refilled.  A ink cartridge will take over 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill.  Learn more.

Social Issues

The bailout packages for Wall Street cost an estimated $700 billion.  It would take only 4% of this total to end world hunger.  Learn more.

It is estimated that $3 trillion would pay for universal healthcare for all Americans, the entire country switching to solar power, a national rapid transit system, pollution clean-up in all major urban centres, a push to universal literacy, completely repairing all damage left by Hurricane Katrina, creating global training programs for 10 million leaders around the world, and paid for clothing and school supplies for 10 million children.  The cost of the Second Iraq War is conservatively estimated to be $3 trillion.  Learn more.

For every $100 billion invested transportation and green industries, the economy will expand roughly $160 billion in annual outputs and create just under 1.2 million jobs.  Learn more. 

An American government study found that medium-sized retail buildings could easily achieve 50% more energy savings.  This would account for 18% of the entire United States’ energy usage.  Learn more.

If Americans used public transport at the same levels as Europeans, roughly 10%, the United States would reduce its dependence on foreign oil by over 40%.  This equals 550 million barrels of crude oil.  Learn more.

North America has 4% of the world’s population.  They use 25% of the world’s resources.  Learn more.

The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970 by approximately 20 million people.  Today, more than 1 billion people recognize it.  Learn more.

Albert Einstein’s Nobel Prize in 1921 was for his work in photovoltaic, a science that has led to the entire solar energy industry.  Learn more. 

What You Can Do at Home

Certain household plants can do great things for the environment of your home.  Aloe vera, lillies, Chinese evergreens, and bamboo will filter out most toxins in the atmosphere.  Learn more. 

Use high R-value insulation in your home.  The higher the R-value, the better your home will be insulated and the less money spent on heating and cooling bills.  Learn more.

Use lighter colours on your exterior roof.  This will reflect the heat of the sun as opposed to absorbing it as darker colours do.  This will lower energy bills and help you to use less energy.  Learn more.

Use a reusable mug when buying coffee or other drinks.  Over 8 billion disposable cups are thrown out in Canada every year.  Learn more.

Shower instead of bathe.  In a week, you can save up to 400 litres of water.  Learn more.

Being environmentally conscious can start at any age.  Get your kids involved in recycling and reusing in order to instill behaviours that will last a lifetime.  Learn more. 

A baby will use approximately 10,000 disposable diapers in their life.  Cloth diapers are reusable and remove the need for disposable ones.  Learn more.

Incinerating 10,000 tons of garbage creates a single job.  Putting 10,000 tons of garbage into a landfill creates 6 jobs.  Recycling 10,000 tons of garbage creates 36 jobs.  Learn more.