# ABC NEWS: Calculating your Human Footprint.

by Barry ORegan | April 11, 2008 at 09:57 pm
1888 views | 10 Recommendations | 11 comments

## ABC NEWS: Calculating your Human Footprint.

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Opinion

Barry Artiste, Now Public Contributor

After having watched this show this evening, I was astounded at the waste, but certainly subconciously knew it is most likely true of any North American family.

Though I agreed with many of their point, leaving a toddler to go commando and crapping everywhere in order to save the earth by not using diapers or reducing my 3x a week showers, reducing laundry to a point of the old adage of just turn your dirty underwear and socks inside out and get twice the mileage certainly would make for a Smelly and Uncomfortable World, at least in my House anyways.

Diapers and Showers and Sodas, Oh My! Calculating Americans' Huge Human Footprint, and Tips to Reduce It By ELIZABETH VARGAS, HOWIE MASTERS and MICHAEL MENDELSOHN
April 10, 2008

It's hard to imagine what a human being consumes in a lifetime. All the food you eat, the potatoes, the fruits, the bread, the chickens.

An eye-opening look at the impact a single human can have on the planet.
And everything you drink, and all the clothes you buy and toss. All the furniture and appliances and toothbrushes and bath products and newspapers. The list goes on and on. If the rest of the world consumed at the rate Americans do, we would need five planets worth of resources to cover it.

And it is indeed possible to add it all up. For a special called "Human Footprint," the National Geographic Channel calculated all the energy, resources and products used by each American over an average lifetime.

Watch the premiere of "Human Footprint" on the National Geographic Channel Sunday, April 13.

Filling the Human Footprint

Over the two-hour broadcast, the consumption of a lifetime is piled up and put on display. Got milk? It does a body good, and Americans consume 13,056 pints of it in a lifetime. A sea of 28,433 rubber duckies represents the number of showers taken in a lifetime. A visual demonstration of the 4,376 loaves of bread (or 87,520 slices) and 12,129 hamburger buns consumed in a lifetime is laid out in the shape of the American flag.

The cumulative result of it all is shocking, and it starts with the youngest citizens. Over the first years of life, an American baby will wear 3,796 diapers. Since it probably takes hundreds of years for the diaper's plastic to biodegrade, you'd think cloth diapers would be a viable solution. But have you considered what it takes to launder 3,796 diapers? How about 22,455 gallons of water. And the problem is not just what Americans consume — it's also where they live.

Everything that goes into an American home contributes to the enormous human footprint. With the American population expanding faster than ever, the demand for housing is soaring. About 1.5 million houses are being built every year, and the average 2,000 square foot home is a glutton for materials: 14,000 board feet of lumber — that's about 64 trees — 17 tons of concrete, and 11,500 feet of siding. But there may be a better way to build our homes, and 20/20 found one in Santa Monica, Calif. Steve Glenn owns what is called the green home of the future.

## Most RecentMost Recommended Comments (11)

0

It is so scary to imagine a human's carbon footprint. After reading this, I just thought back to what I have thrown away and done today and it made me feel quite guilty. I recycle and use energy-saving devices, but of course, it's not enough, and some people do nothing at all!

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I tell ya Amy it is certainly an eye opener.

Speaking of waste apparently the US Government requires hospital to dispose of expensive drugs, which would help thousands to millions of people.  These drugs had not expired, and no explaination was given why they are disposing of them, than to make room for a new supply. The TV program showed clinic and hospital personnel whish is done all over America seen flushing them down a toilet, apparently 30 thousand dollars worth.  I can't imagine environmentally what the water supply must be like for drinking once it hits the Reservoir.  Certainly waste environmentally, and waste of a Human life who could have survived on these Drugs, I guess thank God I live in Canada and Free Health Care.

flagged this story as Good Stuff

at 22:20 on April 11th, 2008

Flushing the medications down the toilet reminds me of a story I heard about six months ago, about fish becoming sterile due to all the birth control that was flushed into the water supply. Except I can't remember where it was. But that scared me enough - let alone drinking unknown medications.

0

Perhaps this is all a Conspiracy by Bottled Water Companies to get us back to drinking botted water, since it was proven Bottled Water is no cleaner than Tap water, and plastic bottles emit BPH which is a carcinogen.  I do know Ohio used to make it a practice of dumping their drugs down the drain.  Water Resrvoirs which treat water, only have equipment to eliminate fecal matter and other biological agents, it is almost impossible, if not incredibly expensive to remove chemical, Lead, Mercury etc.  So it is the lesser of two evils, thanks Christ, here in Canada treatment plants check water quality for chemicals almost three times a day, and actually go out into the streets and sample as well. This is required and mandatory by our laws, ever since the deaths in Walkerton, Ontario a decade ago.

And Thanks for the comments and Flag Amy

On an unrelated topic, the issue in National Geographic a few months back expressed concern over flatuence from Cows to Humans and the resulting methane and insidious odours depending on the spicy food you ate, and certainly a bane to women everywhere whose mate enjoys this Al Bundy Style fun Fart Game  pastime in bed with them or on the couch. I of course may be guilty on all counts. On a Humourous note, If we cannot capture it for energy, then perhaps preventing it can be accomplished by inserting garden hoses in every mans butt, with the other end in their mouth, certainly they would think twice about letting one RIP!!  Imafine if this wer a World Wide Law,  oh to have a Birds eye view of the Male citizens of Mexico, and the laughter of women everywhere.

0

Ha, that's funny! I suppose there's many things we wish we didn't have to deal with concerning gas, but I like your solution with the garden hose!

0

I worked for one of your Vancouver breathren last year - 1-800-GOT-JUNK - in the Chicago area. That year shocked me at times, all the perfectly good stuff that people had me toss just because they were done with it. A 440W stereo amplier, a double electric range, vintage collections of Playboys, all tossed by clients. We strove to recycle or resell (individually as employees) what we could. It helped us suplement our paychecks.

Oh... and then there was the matter of the landfills which I visited three times a week. If those aren't monuments to American Craptology...

0

Vintage Playboys, ya say?  What a Travesty! Sniff....

0

I met someone here in Van who specialized in selling the bicycles she recovered as a GOT-JUNK employee. It's like a whole sub-economy that adds value back to the things that are tossed away.

0

I made some good bank off some of the stuff, but also donated a lot to different thrift stores in the area.

But it was the trips to the landfill (only three miles from my home) that really floored me. We saw huge valleys filled with trash and crap in practically no time at all. People bitch if the landfill wants to expand, but they don't look any farther to note that landfill size is user driven. You don't want it to get bigger, thne stop using all the crap.

0

In Brooklyn, we had bulk trash day, when all good citizens would put out the larger items that arent' normally collected by the sanitation crews. The night before was when we would venture into the night in search of treasure: my apartment was furnished with found objects... It was like those sped-up nature videos of ants skeletonizing an animal: everything that was reusable or reparable was immediately spirited away to a new home and a new life.

0

Hence my weekly forays to Value Village Boutique, others trash is someone elses treasure, beside if you are tired of throw away disposable never worked right the first time Chinese made Electronics and Appliances, Value Village usually has like 30 year old electronics and appliances, like my 30 year old General Electric toaster and Beach Foundry Griddle that still work as well as the day they were Manufactured In Good Old North America.  I am now on the lookout for a North American made phone as my Chinese Model gets replaced almost yearly because it sounds like your talking into a garbage can, where most of these disposable phones usually end up soon after they hit the Stores shelves. As for trying to get a repair under the Manufacturers Warranty for made in china products, "Hey Good Luck with That!!"

On another Health Note: as I mentioned in my story last year, well before the media jumped on the anti Chinese made Bandwagon on Faulty Chinese Made Products sold here in North America. I did a Ghost Wipe on my Chinese made dinnerware where the glaze had worn off, including the steel utensils and suprise, suprise Lead content in all of them at over a 1,000 ug when grinded into a powder at my lab.  Certainly an eye opener when even residential paint levels of 40ug though acceptable by todays standards is still way too high in my Opinion, especially when applied to eating utensils and dinner plates.

Hence why I got a nice old German made set 1950's with real gold accents from Value Village, no lead, better quality and still all intact a year later.

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First Flagged at 10:20 PM, Apr 11, 2008 by Amy Judd
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