The newest Boeing aircraft, the 747-8 Intercontinental, is one of the largest planes ever built in the U.S. At just under 1 million pounds, fully loaded, this airliner can carry more than 460 passengers. Now imagine 100 of these giant airliners parked in one airfield. Together they equal the weight of clothing and shoes Planet Aid collected in 2011. It’s mind boggling to try and picture the sheer weight that represents. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, when it comes to measuring the Environmental impact of the 99 million pounds Planet Aid collected.
Thanks to formulas developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Planet Aid is able to calculate the actual Environmental savings produced by each pound of used clothes. And that’s where things get interesting. The simple act of donating clothes and shoes instead of throwing them away has a tremendous impact on our local and global Environment – in more ways than you might think.
Consider this – the 99 million pounds of clothing translates into 651,600,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) that was prevented from entering our atmosphere. That’s 651. 6 million pounds of harmful gases that didn’t poison our lungs. When solid waste such as textiles are buried in landfills they naturally release greenhouse gases as they decompose. We normally associate CO2 emissions with the greenhouses gases that exit our car’s tailpipe. Put another way, preventing 651.6 million pounds of CO2 from being released is the equivalent of taking 74,500 cars off the road for a whole year. On average each car spews about 8,700 pounds of CO2 a year. That’s an amazing statistic when you try to imagine how much gas is needed just to capture one pound.
Preventing harmful gases from entering our breathing space is one thing, but what about other natural resources that are saved through Recycling? Depending on the fabric or textile, it takes on average about 1,025 gallons of water to produce one pound of clothing. A t-shirt alone consumes about 700 gallons when you factor in the amount of water needed for crop irrigation and fabric production. By Recycling textiles we eliminate the need to use virgin resources to produce an equal amount of clothing. The 99 million pounds of clothing Planet Aid collected amounts to 95,412,740,000 gallons of water saved – that’s 95.4 billion gallons! To put that into perspective, in the U.S. we drink 24 million gallons of bottled water every day. In one year we drink 8.4 billion gallons. The water saved through Planet Aid’s Recycling equals the amount of bottled water the entire U.S. drinks in 11 years.
But that’s not all. The total amount of pesticides needed to grow fabric-producing crops is reduced by nearly a million pounds (931,000) – pretty significant tonnage when you calculate the adverse affect these chemicals have on the soil and waterways. A half-million cubic yards of landfill space were spared – space that may be used for other purposes, other than huge earth-based dumpsters. In addition, local cities, towns and counties also reap some rewards from Recycling. By not having to collect and dispose of 99 million pounds of clothing, Planet Aid saved municipalities a cumulative total of $4,853,000.
How does this relate to you? Let’s say you fill one ordinary paper grocery sack with donated clothes. Maybe a couple of pairs of pants, a few shirts, and some old towels. That might easily total 10 lbs. By collecting and donating just one grocery bag of used clothes you would have prevented 70 pounds of C02 gases from polluting the atmosphere and saved 10,250 gallons of water, or 82,000 16oz bottles of water. Pretty amazing isn’t it? Each of us has several pounds worth of unused clothing in our closets that we would normally throw away. The EPA estimates every American tosses about 65 pounds of clothing in the trash every year. Think of the lost Environmental savings from that statistic alone. So make Recycling a priority this month, or better yet, make it a habit every month – you’ll do a world of good!