Dear Colleagues,

We hope last week’s exercises were informative and enlightening. In keeping with our pledge to “Make Everyday Earth Day,” included below is the handout for week 3. Please note that all information contained is designed to raise consciousness and awareness and not as a means for testing knowledge and aptitude. Let’s join hands and make 2010 a year of commitment, dedication and accountability towards our home and make a pledge to help clean it up. Remember: every little bit helps!

In our previous hand out we started with looking at what a carbon footprint is and how it is produced. This week we will start with one of our main pollutants and causes of our carbon footprint being so high: waste disposal.

Facts about waste disposal

According to research, it takes the following amount of time for these materials to biodegrade in a landfill. Please note that this is the amount of time per unit!

? Banana Peel: 3-4 weeks

? Paper Bag: 1 month

? Cardboard: 2 months

? Wool Sock : 1 year

? Aluminium Can: 200-500 years (But if recycled, it can be reused within 6 weeks!)

? Disposable Diapers: 550 years

? Plastic Bags : 500-1000 years

? Plastic Jug: 1 million years

? Glass: 1-2 million years

? Styrofoam: Virtually Immortal (1+ million years)

? Cigarette Butt: 10-50 years

? Tin can: 100 years

Solid waste generation in Pakistan ranges between 0.283 to 0.612 kg/capita/day and the waste generation growth rate is 2.4% per year. This study was done in 1993 (Draft Environmental Assessment Report, Stockholm) and although present day data does not exist, it is anticipated that that level has increased

The main problems with garbage dumping in Pakistan:

? There is no proper waste collection system

? Waste is dumped on the streets

? Different types of waste are not collected separately

? There are no controlled sanitary landfill sites

? Citizens are not aware of the relationship between ways of disposing of waste and the resulting environmental and public health problems.

? Not enough recycling initiatives

Questions to Ponder

1. How many years does it take for glass to decompose in landfills?

a. 5

b. 20,000

c. 1 million

It takes a million years for glass to decompose in a landfill. You can help by recycling your glass bottles and jars at home and at school.

2. For every tonne of paper we recycle, we save:

a. 1 tree

b. 17 trees

c. 32 trees

If 17 trees are saved for every tonne of paper recycled, can you imagine how many trees we could save if everyone recycled their paper?

3. In your house where is the most water used?

a. The kitchen

b. The laundry room

c. The bathroom

On average we use the most amount of water in the bathroom. Cut down some of the water wasted by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth or take a shower. Water wastage can be reduced
4. How much less energy do compact fluorescent lamps use?

a. 30%

b. 60%

c. 100%

Since CFL bulbs use 30% less energy than regular light bulbs, if every house in Pakistan used just one CFL bulb, we would save enough energy to power a city!

5. How do you get to school?

a. Carpool

b. School Bus

c. Own car

Car emissions are one of the highest contributors to pollution and increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Carpooling with friends/peers or taking the school bus helps reduce some of these emissions.

6. We can throw away less garbage by:

a. Using reusable containers

b. Bringing paper bag lunches

c. Buying pre-packaged lunches

Using reusable containers is environmentally friendly and helps reduce waste. Paper bag lunches and pre-packaged lunches create waste and use valuable resources.

7. How many times per week do you eat out?

a. 1

b. 2-3

c. 5

d. More than 5

Eating out is not only unhealthy but usually packaged food has a very heavy carbon footprint. Even if the food is not packaged and served fresh, it has still been transported and stored which uses a lot of energy.

8. How many full sized garbage bags does your family put out each week?

a. 1-2

b. 3-4

c. 5-6

d. 7-8

e. 9-10

f. More

We can drastically reduce household garbage by doing simple things such as recycling and composting.

Discussion Questions

1. What are some of the ways you can help reduce our waste problem?

2. Why do you think a paper bag takes about a month to decompose whereas a plastic bag takes 500-1000 years? What do you think is the best way to overcome this problem?

Research taken from and

A definite time period is not yet known. This is due to plastic bags being made from polyethylene, a man-made polymer that microorganisms don’t recognize as food. Although standard polyethylene bags don’t biodegrade, they do photodegrade (become brittle and start to crack with UV rays from the sun eventually becoming particles). Since it is not known how long that process would take, scientists are estimating a 500-1000 year span.

Since most of these products are man made, scientists have not been able to determine a definite time period as yet. However, research suggests these time frames.