Today is Earth Day, that day when we think about this amazing, beautiful planet that we call home, and how we can take better care of her. Earth Day started back in 1970 to remind us to think about the environment. But we should think that way every day, right? Americans alone make about 1,600 pounds of trash per person per year – that’s over 500 billion pounds. And the plastic in that garbage will take 100 to 400 years to break down in a landfill to become dirt. So we have to do things differently. Not only does recycling save space in those garbage dumps, but it also takes less energy to make a bottle from used glass or plastic than from new stuff. The energy saved by recycling one plastic bottle could run your computer for 25 minutes. And a 3-foot stack of recycled newspaper saves one whole tree! So let’s celebrate Earth Day every day.
Wee ones: If you get really good about recycling paper, plastic, glass and aluminum, how many different materials are you recycling?
Little kids: Recycling a 3-foot stack of newspaper saves 1 tree. If you want to save 3 trees, how tall a pile do you need to recycle? Bonus: The energy saved by recycling 1 plastic bottle could run a computer for 25 minutes – but a recycled glass bottle could run it 5 minutes longer. How long is that? Count up if it helps!
Big kids: The U.S. prints 4 million tons of junk mail every year – mail we don’t even want. At 2,000 pounds per ton, how many pounds of paper is that? (Hint: You can break this into multiplying by 1000 and then by 2.) Bonus: Americans throw out 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. If we saved just half a million bottles each hour, how many would we save in a 24-hour day?
Wee ones: 4 different materials.
Little kids: 9 feet of paper. Bonus: 30 minutes.
Big kids: 8 billion pounds. Bonus: 12 million bottles.