The average American uses 2,200 napkins each year, which boils down to about six per day. Many of us simply grab a stack of paper napkins and don’t even use all of them, then throw them away. Several brands of napkins and paper towels can’t be recycled because their fibers are too short.
On average Americans use (and dispose of) 500 million plastic straws each day, and many of those end up in our oceans, where they pose great danger to animals like sea turtles.
In a single year, Americans throw away nearly 25 billion Styrofoam cups … and when you add in the statistics for plastic and paper cup usage, the numbers are just staggering. If you use one disposable cup each day, you’ll create 23 pounds of non-recyclable waste by the end of the year. To lessen your impact, get an environmentally friendly cup or bottle for your office, one for your commute and one for your trips to the gym.
Modern chewing gum is not biodegradable because it’s made with – it sounds scary, but it’s true – synthetic rubber. So when you spit it out (hopefully not out your car window or on the sidewalk), you’re just putting plastic into the environment. Opt for the mints instead!
It takes about 1,850 gallons of water to produce a pound of ground beef, whereas it only takes about 39 gallons of water to produce the same weight in vegetables. Going meat-free just once a week helps conserve water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If you’re concerned about protein, remember that nuts, seeds, beans and tofu are great sources.
About a third of all seafood purchased in the United States has been mislabeled, and only about 2 percent of the seafood imported into this country is inspected. To help stay educated about your seafood choices, download the Seafood Watch app so you have a mobile “cheat sheet” when you’re at a restaurant or in the grocery store.
It’s not always necessary to preheat your oven, though it’s very important when making breads or pastries. If you’re cooking a casserole or baking potatoes, it’s an unnecessary step. You should also unplug kitchen appliances – coffee makers, microwaves and blenders – when they’re not in use.
It’s annoying for you or your dining companion to be checking emails or Facebook, texting, or playing a game while you’re trying to enjoy a meal together. So actually be together during the meal, and just power down the electronics. Even better, get out and enjoy nature with an after-dinner walk-and-talk session.
Grocery stores have figured it out, and many now label local foods so you know you’re keeping things close to home. To go super-local, try your hand at a small garden this year. Just imagine the bragging rights you’ll have with those big, juicy tomatoes!
Here's to a happy and healthy 2016!