SEP 10, 2017 2:59 PM PDT

What if we all lived like Americans?


Maybe you're wondering if we'd even survive if we all lived like Americans - i.e. consumed as much as we do, and emitted as much waste as we do. The average American produces 1609 pounds of trash every year, 1200 pounds of which is organic waste. Could the world support such incessant behavior? Looking at the numbers, the answer is likely not, given that America alone generates 40% of the world's waste. That means that if everyone consumed and got rid of as much food and stuff as we do...well, let's just say it wouldn't be pretty and it wouldn't last long.

Another way to measure the American lifestyle is by seeing how many global hectares each American averages. A global hectare measures how much land, sea, and other resources are needed to produce what each person consumes per year; for example, their food, clothing, or material purchases. The average person in the world uses 2.7 global hectares per year; meanwhile, the average American uses 6.8 global hectares per year. That doesn't look too good, either.

But there are other factors to think about, too. For example, if everyone lived like Americans, we'd all be having a lot more sex (Americans have sex the most frequent, after the French, tallying up to an average of 139 times a year). And a lot of people would live longer, too. To learn more, watch the video!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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