April 22 is Earth Day, but in today’s climate (literally), we should celebrate eco-mindedness every day of the year. Take our quiz to test your awareness and improve your environmental stewardship.
Scott Bille is the cofounder and producer of the Sustainability Now podcast, sharing cutting-edge solutions to planetary problems. As Clean Water Action Philadelphia’s former program director, he helped implement local environmental protections and advocated for workers’ rights. After a few years building log homes, Bille has spent the last 20 years as an interactive director and multimedia producer at a Wilmington-based advertising agency.
Scroll down for the answer key.
1. Which uses less water, a dishwasher or washing a full load of dishes by hand?
2. True or false? Appliances that are turned off don’t use any electricity.
3. True or false? It is impossible to fuel an entire country with renewable energy sources.
4. Dropping the thermostat from 70 degrees to 68 saves you about what percentage on your heating costs?
5. Which of the following products can be made from hemp?
e. All of the above
6. What percentage of its plastic does the U.S. actually recycle?
7. True or false? There are more microplastics in our oceans than stars in our galaxy.
8. How many plastic bags does the U.S. throw away each year?
a. 2.5 million
b. 30 million
c. 100 billion
d. 40 billion
9. On average, how long is a plastic bag used by a person before being thrown away?
a. 1 year
b. 5 months
c. 22 days
d. 12 minutes
10. What percentage of the food produced around the world goes uneaten?
11. True or False? Scientists agree that climate change is real and caused by humans.
12. How much of the energy spent on washing clothes can be attributed to heating the water used for washing?
Hover over the block to reveal the answer.
1. Dishwasher. Hand washing dishes can use up to 50 percent more water than running a full Energy Star-rated dishwasher.
2. False. Always unplug electronic devices when not in use to reduce your electricity bill and your carbon footprint. According to the United States Department of Energy, U.S. televisions that are turned off but still plugged in consume about $750 million worth of electricity annually.
3. False. Currently, Iceland and Paraguay are at 100 percent, followed by Costa Rica (99 percent), Norway (98.5 percent), Austria (80 percent), Brazil (75 percent) and Denmark (69.4 percent). The main renewables in these countries are hydropower, wind, geothermal and solar.
4. Five percent. For air conditioning, set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher.
5. All of the above. There are more than 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, and it grows fast enough for two yields per season in many regions while sequestering more carbon from the air than trees.
6. Nine percent. And, most plastics can only be recycled once or twice before they are downcycled. This means they are recycled into something of a lesser value, which will wind up in a landfill or incinerator, or as pollution.
7. True. There are 51 trillion microplastic particles in the ocean today—500 times more than the number of stars in our galaxy.
8. According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. (Estimated cost to retailers is $4 billion). Placed end-to-end, they could circle the earth 1,000 times.
9. Twelve minutes. Globally, 1 million plastic bags are used per minute and only 1 percent of them are recycled.
10. Thirty-three percent, due to spoilage during shipping and preparation, as well as food that gets thrown out at the end of meals.
11. True. According to NASA, 97 percent of climate scientists agree. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.
12. Ninety percent. If even half of households shifted to cold-water laundry, 1,358.37 GWh of energy could be saved annually in the U.S. alone. This is equal to 3.125 million solar PV panels, 150 utility-scale wind turbines or 110 million LED bulbs (i.e. a lot!).