Archive for November, 2011

Packing Peanuts and Plastic Bags

This picture for Chris Jordan’s Running the Numbers depicts 166,000 packing peanuts, which is equivalent to the number of overnight packages shipped by air in the United States…every hour!


The picture below from Chris Jordan’s Running the Numbers portrays 60,000 plastic bags, which is the amount used in the United States… every five seconds! The picture to the right is a close up of all the plastic bags.


Week 4 Update

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

In the United States, it is estimated that thirty percent of food is wasted, which is equivalent to $48.2 billion of food ( So I hope that everyone does there part to eat leftovers and reduce the amount of food wasted over this Thanksgiving.

After three weeks of attempting to not waste food, I have found that when I eat at Upper Farinon, which is one of our dining halls that is a certain cost at the door, I tend to waste more food because it is unlimited. On the other hand, when I eat at lower Farinon, which is where people pay for what they are going to eat, I don’t waste much at all. In order to stop wasting food at Upper Farinon I have taken the time to really think about what I will actually eat before putting wasteful portions on my plate.

I also have limited my trips to the grocery store, and when I do go I try to buy one large tub of yogurt instead of five small yogurts. Food packaging is another serious waste component because so much of food is inefficiently wrapped. A candy that I use to love, Mamba, was wrapped as a whole, and then each group of flavors was wrapped so that there were three separate wrapped groups when opened. Then in those three there were six individual wrapped candies. I can not get over how wasteful this is, and I hope that they alter their packaging soon.

Junk Mail and Paper Bags

This picture in Chris Jordan’s Running the Numbers depicts 9,960 mail order catalogs. This number is equivalent to the number of pieces of junk mail that are printed, shipped, delivered, and thrown away in the United States…every three seconds!


This picture to the right is a depiction of paper bags from the grocery store. This is displaying 1.14 million brown paper bags from the supermarket. This number is used in the United States…every hour!


Week 3 Update

After two weeks of using as little as possible, I have found it very difficult to cut paper and bottle use out of my lifestyle. I have a klean kanteen, but I have been forgetting to carry it around with me, and when I go to the movies or somewhere, it is very tempting to buy into this terrible industry. Convenience is the major reason why people have a high carbon footprint. Bottles are everywhere and very convenient, but it is upsetting that people who buy bottles tend not to recycle them. According to Earth 911, there were 5.1 billion pounds of bottles and jars in the United States available for recycling in 2009, but only 2,456 million pounds of that were actually recycled. The saddest part is that this was a record high ( If people for some reason can’t get it together to bring a reusable water bottle out, they should most definitely have the common courtesy to their planet to recycle it. Honestly, the laziness in throwing away plastic makes me sick. Even here at Lafayette, I see many oblivious students casually tossing their plastic bottle into a garbage can when there are recycling bins nearby. Recycling bins are not hard to find and there is no excuse for throwing away recyclable plastic.

Paper has been easier to minimize for me. Although I do print out major articles to highlight for class, I have really thought about things before I decide to print. I have been e-mailing my teachers papers instead of printing them, and then turning them in at class. However, paper is overused in so many ways. The most upsetting example I have noticed is junk mail. Even here at campus, I get so many papers in my mailbox that do not pertain to me. Luckily, there are recycling bins all around the post office so things can be recycled. However, it makes me sad to think of all the wasted paper that comes to my house at home in the form of credit card promotions or magazines and so forth. Although I would like to think much of it is recycled, it is upsetting that it had to be printed in the first place. Another upsetting factor of wasted paper is people not bringing reusable bags to the grocery store. I try very hard to remember to bring bags because the amount of paper and plastic wasted for grocery bags is appalling. This goes back to the convenience factory. It is easy for people to get wasteful bags at the store. However, my family tries very hard to always bring bags, and if we forget we try to reuse the paper bags at the store when we return.

Light Bulbs

This picture in Chris Jordan’s Running the Numbers depicts 320,000 light bulbs. This number is equal to the amount of kilowatt hours of electricity wasted in the United States every minute from ineffiecient residential electricity usage, for example when computers are in sleep mode as opposed to being shut down, ineffiecient wiring, and many others.

Week 2 Update

After a week of implementing my plan, I have been very conscientious of the amount of electricity and water I am using. When I am in the shower, I try to be as efficient as possible, but if I am going to shave my legs I have been turning the water off until I need to rinse my leg. Although this is a minor change, I feel as if it is saving water. I have also advised my roommates to do the same. I also have made sure that my roommates and I always turn off the water when we are brushing our teeth. Lastly, I have been trying to do one large load of laundry when needed as opposed to two medium sized loads. This lowers the amount of water used significantly. These are minor changes that haven’t been too challenging and seem realistic for others to be able to implement in their daily lives.

According to WaterAid America statistics, the average North American uses 400 liters of water every day! On the other hand, the average person in a developing country uses only 10 liters of water a day. It is really sad how much we overuse resources just because they are available, and WaterAid American predicts that at the rate America is going, in twenty years humans will use forty percent more water then they use now. This is an unacceptable statistic, and we need to find away to halt this terrifying trend. (

As for electricity, I have been using a small side lamp by my bed at nighttime instead of the large overhead light. However, I have made one change that I feel has a significant impact. I have been trying to not turn on one light in my room until the sun goes down. With my shade up, there is plenty of sunlight to brighten my room, and having the light switch turned on makes a slim difference. This has been a hard habit for me to break because it is a natural instinct when I walk into a room to flip on the light switch. I also have been turning the lights off in almost every room when I leave, unless of course there are people still in that room. In public bathrooms, my friends’ rooms, and many other places I will shut the lights off in order to try to lower their impact as well. I also am more aware of things plugged into the wall. I have tried to unplug everything besides my alarm clock and refrigerator from the wall when I go to sleep. There is no reason for everything to be plugged in at all times, and it is very wasteful and unnecessary.

Plastic Water Bottles

These images are Chris Jordan’s artwork in “Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portriat” to help display the problem of overconsumption. To the left is a picture of two million plastic bottles, which is equivalent to the amount that the United States uses every five minutes. On the right is a close up of the two million bottles. This disturbing picture helps portray a reality to the problems we are facing.