Flashback Friday – I posted this on November 12, 2008. No one cared. I wonder what the number of trees is today?
How many trees are there in the world and how many trees does that equal per person in the world? I was challenged with a news story I heard this morning. This scientist worked out a way (using NASA satellites) to determine exactly how many trees there are in the world but then she wanted to know exactly how many trees that meant per person. In 2005 there were just over 400 billion trees (actually 400,246,300,201) and as of Dec. 31st of 2005 there were 6,456,789,877 people in the world for the most part. That would give each person 61 trees. This ecology professor (and I) were totally excited that we each got more than one tree apiece but then her husband (another scientist – microbiologist) burst our bubbles when he pointed out that he didn’t think that was too many considering how many trees are used for products that we use every day. Her husband has a way of deflating her just like my does with all his dang logic. So she then went on to make a list of everything that is a tree-based product. The list was immense! Here’s some of what they found: baseball bats, barrels, books, blocks, benches, crutches, coffee filters, guitars, grocery bags, pencils, pine oil, beds, billboards, buttons, candy wrappers, buttons, chewing gum, cork, crayons, egg cartons, fruit pie filling, kites, linoleum, luggage, paper, ping pong balls, chopsticks (especially the disposable kind), rubber, tambourines, telephone books, tires, toilet paper, turpentine, xylophones and yo-yos (the wooden kind).
This started to scare me. While it is important to note that wood is a renewable source, it is not always the fastest growing source. It still made me wonder if I was doing enough. I’ve been an avid recycler since I was 13. I’ve started programs at several places that I have worked. I begin to think of ways that I could do more. Most of our junk mail comes for my husband so I went on-line to opt him out on two web sites that help with that process. If only I could opt out of the “getting a new phone book thrown on my lawn once a month” club I would be in heaven. I am careful about what I purchase so that it doesn’t come with too much packaging. I use cloth bags to shop with. On that note: I discovered that my huge IKEA bag works perfect for holding all my Sam’s club food in the trunk. Looking at the list I thought that my recent cost cutting venture of checking books out of the library instead of buying not only saved money but saved trees as well. My coffee pot does not use filters – I was sure to make this a priority when we shopped around. Of course, I could plant a tree. There is a spot in my backyard where a small tree died so next spring I can replace it with a new tree. It just feels like I’m not doing enough. That is probably the overachiever in me. I welcome any suggestions that others might have for me.
She left us with a quote by the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore:
Trees are the earth’s endless effort
To speak to the listening heaven.
To check out the story for yourself go here.