When we think of April, we think of spring, which has all of the associations with nature and the environment. It’s an impulse that existed for Americans as far back as 1872, when the first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska. The more contemporary Earth Day, created in 1970 as the brainchild of U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, was as an effort to raise awareness and inspire environmental activism.
Following are a few points to ponder in honor of Earth Day (April 22) and Arbor Day (April 29):
- If one in every 20 American households switched to e-bills and electronic payments, annually, they would: Save 37,734,904 pounds of paper and 452,819 trees, reduce greenhouse gases by 490,100 tons, save 2,149,332 household-garbage bags, and avoid the burning of 25,736,400 gallons of gasoline used to mail bills, statements, and payments.
- Americans buy roughly 25 billion single-serving plastic water bottles each year, according to the Container Recycling Institute.
- The annual production of plastic bottles creates more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide.
- With less than 20 percent of bottles being recycled, more than 4 billion pounds of bottles go to landfills nationwide.
- Of the 2.25 million tons of televisions, cell phones, and computer products ready for end-of-life management, 18 percent (414,000 tons) was collected for recycling and 82 percent (1.84 million tons) was disposed of, primarily in landfills.
- Detroit ranked second in a 2009 Forbes magazine survey of America’s most polluted cities.
- Although the Eastern white pine is Michigan’s state tree, the sugar maple is more commonly occurring.
- About 53 percent of Michigan’s land area is forested. The Upper Peninsula comprises the vast majority of treed turf, with 83-percent coverage. Forest coverage in the Lower Peninsula is less than 20 percent.
- Contrary to popular belief, trees are not the major producers of oxygen. Fifty to 90 percent of all oxygen is produced by phytoplankton, single-celled ocean plants.
Sources: NACHA – The Electronic Payments Association; The U.S. Conference of Mayors; U.S. EPA; Michigan Forests Forever.