The human foot print - Journey of a life time

The following facts and figures are excerpted from National Geographic Channel video - Human Footprint;

An average Americans carbon footprint exceeds 20 tonnes. If the Co2 emission were made into a solid mass of carbon we would need 40 trucks – i.e. 1540 tons of carbon, 5 times more than a Frenchman and 20 times more than a person staying in India.

With the average US citizen’s lifespan of 77.9 years, we produce or consume the following per person per lifetime;

Life time

Resource used


A child uses diaper for 2.5 yrs in their life

4/day; 1518/year; 3796/child/lifetime

Takes 1898 pints (897.7 litres or 237.25 gallons) of crude oil for plastic water proof lining, 715 lbs of plastic, uses pulp of 4.5 trees for the fluffy padding, just to keep one American toddler tidy

18 billion disposable diapers thrown out every year. If placed end to end can stretch around the world 90 times. The diapers long outlives us, they take 500 yrs to biodegrade, much longer for plastic.

Reusable diaper

Need 22455 gallons of water to clean them. This is enough drinking water to quench the thirst of an average person for 93 years

By first year itself an American toddler would have generated more Carbon dioxide emission than an average person in Tanzania will generate in a life time.

Food (for basic nutrients - proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals etc)


(for vitamins, proteins and minerals)

3 pints/ week; 14 pints/ month; 168 pints/ year; 13056 pints/ lifetime or 1632 gallons

Eggs (proteins)

5/ week, 255/ year , 19826/ lifetime (1.3 tons)

Beef (proteins)

2.5 tons/ lifetime

Pork ( proteins)

1.7 tons/ lifetime

Chicken (proteins)

1423 chicken

(2.3 tons)/ lifetime


9,917 lbs 4 tons –

about 20000 potatoes


55/year; 4376/lifetime

Or 87000 slices

Hotdog rolls


Hamburger buns

12,129 (eat the weight of a family car)


11196 / lifetime


5067 / lifetime


12,888 / lifetime

Pine apples



each person in US drinks 13248 beers


942 bottles in their lifetime


25 lbs / year (1 shopping cart full); 14518 candy bars/ lifetime

(12 shopping cart full)

A diet of candy adds to a lifetime of sugar intake, 1056 lbs – 200 of 5 lbs bag

Tooth brush


Tooth paste

389 tubes


656 bars




272 sticks

Hair styling gel

35 tubes

Skin care products


Nail polish





50 tubes

Washing machine






Air conditioners






Over 574 millions sold worldwide every year, at least 100 million to Americans. It takes a wide range of materials and resources to make each one of them.

To make a single desktop, it requires at least 530 lbs of fossil fuels, 48 lbs of assorted chemicals and over 1.7 tons of water used in production

Every one of these leaves a mark, has an effect on the environment.

Take a hair dryer. An average person using it burns 3 quarter tonne of coal during their life time – just to dry your hair.


Average American moves home 10 times in a lifetime.

More than 64 trees to supply all woods in an average home. (2000 sq foot house uses 13837 ft of lumber to stretch across Brooklyn bridge and back again.)

11500 sq feet of siding enough to cover 4 tennis court,

17 tons of concrete, 5.500 sq feet of interior raw mat, wood paneling and insulation, 400 lbs. of copper, 30 gallons of paint

Cars - symbol of freedom - “freedom on wheels”


5% of worlds population has 30% of car population of the world


An average American throws away in weight - 68 lbs of clothing and textiles each year.

It takes 528 gallons of water, 1/3 lbs of chemicals along with cotton to make one T-shirt logs 14625 air miles from USA to China and back just to get components to factory and T-shirt back to you.

An average pair of Jeans travelled 20000 miles before you even put it on.


Leather from Texas, tanned in South Korea, stitched in Indonesia, before they are out of box they would have travelled 20000 miles using up resources and increasing weight of the footprints. Brand new pair of sneakers would have travelled farther than we will ever walk on earth.


Average American generates 500 pounds of dirty laundry every year

45 billion loads of laundry across the country, 1100 loads started every sec and all those loads uses 560 billion gallons of water equal to amount of water that flows over Niagara falls every 11 days.

Showers taken in a lifetime

28433 times/ lifetime

uses 700000 gallons of water

Water - sprinkle front lawns, wash cars, fill kitchen sink, flush toilets (not considering shower)

1.277 million gallons of water in a life time. (same as keeping the tap running continuously for 62 weeks)


Watching TV

4 hrs / day adding up all that amounts to 12.5 years spend in front of tube in a lifetime

This past time consumes 22000 kilowatts of electricity enough to power light bulb for 43 years

Reading (books, magazines, newspapers)

Average American polish off 6 books per year 412 books/ lifetime.

Over the life time, read 5054 newspaper

43 Trees/per person to read all the newspaper in lifetime.

191 million trees for making all the papers for one year.

Cutting down these trees means 365500 tons of CO2 released into atmosphere each year, rather be absorbed by trees to create oxygen.

1000 tons of carbon dioxide per day just to read newspaper

Driving habits

Each drive an average of 11000 miles a year that’s 627000 miles over a life time or 25 times around the world and on that journey we use 31350 gallons of gasoline,

Americans use a quarter of all oil consumption and it takes half of that to fuel all our cars, 10.5 million barrels of oil everyday


31350 gallons enough to fill 3 big oil tankers

Gasoline creates 6 tons of carbon emissions a year. Over a driving life time this amounts to 360 tonnes each.


In USA there more domestic flights than any place on earth. At any given time there are 5000 airplanes crossing the country

Atlanta airport 2685 take of or land every day, 1 plane landing or take off every 2 seconds

Their vapour trail form heat trapping clouds allowing excessive CO2 to build up in our atmosphere.

A single trip from Seoul to Washington DC produces 3.5 tonnes of carbon emissions. It takes 6 months of car driving to generate this amount of carbon emissions

Just the vehicles alone create a carbon foot print that is equal to that of many nations put together. Use of hybrid vehicles - it would be possible to cut emissions by a third

Waste and packaging thrown from just food alone.

Plastic thrown/ person in lifetime

29700 lbs about 15 tons

Aluminium thrown – most are soda cans

43371 cans of soda/ lifetime

Other Waste

Sewage system

Every day each of us sends 20 gallons

567575 gallons/ each in a life time

Waste to landfills

5.3 lbs./day; 160 lbs./month; a ton/year;

Each of us sends 64 tons of waste to landfills /lifetime, i.e. 4 garbage truck filled to the brim

Every sec 694 plastic bottles,

11 million glass bottles and jars every day, (that is equivalent to 440 Titanic or 30 empire state buildings)

Another 100 million aluminium and steel cans everyday, 36 billion cans tossed every year. Enough to build a roof over New York every day

Small changes can make a big difference.

  • If you decrease the temperature 2 degrees in the winter time and raise it 2 degrees in summer time we can each save 2000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year.
  • Replacing one bulb with energy efficient bulbs we can save half a ton of carbon dioxide emission over the bulb life time. If every American did this, 500 million tons of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere can be prevented.
  • Each of us can save another half a ton of carbon dioxide emissions each year simply by unplugging all the appliances when we are not using them.

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