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How Buying Stuff Drives Climate Change

How Buying Stuff Drives Climate Change

Did you know that Americans produce 25 percent more waste than usual between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, sending an additional one million tons a week to landfills? This COVID-19 holiday season, with online shopping the preferred gift giving method for many, we will likely generate even more waste mailing packages all over the country. In addition, over two billion Christmas cards are mailed every year, with enough paper to fill a football field 10 stories high. More than 38,000 miles of ribbon are thrown away and usually end up in landfills. Over the holidays, Americans discard half their total yearly paper waste, mostly holiday wrapping and decorations—about nine billion tons. And each person wastes almost 100 pounds of food.

What’s all this got to do with climate change?

In fact, our consumer habits are actually driving climate change. A 2015 study found that the production and use of household goods and services was responsible for 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Not surprisingly, wealthy countries have the most per capita impact. A new U.N. report found that the richest one percent of the global population emit more than twice the amount than the poorest 50 percent; moreover, the wealthier people become, the more energy they use. A typical American’s yearly carbon emissions are five times that of the world’s average person.

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