Friday, April 30, 2010

MAM Day 30: 0100 0010 0110 1001 0110 1110 0110 0001 0111 0010 0111 1001

Today is the last day of Math Awareness Month! :( It's been an incredible month! I've learned so much about the importance of math in everyday life and how integral (hehe) it is in everyone's lives. From my first few giddy days of planning out the topics and drawing pandas, to the middle of the month where I struggled to stay on schedule, to some of my favorite posts: counting, math and language, relative size, taxes, music and math, math in nature, and finally optimization of space, I've really enjoyed this month-long blogging project. I personally have learned quite a lot about different topics and could do much more research on some of them. If you've checked in on my blog at all this month, I hope you learned something or were at least amused at my enthusiam of math. My goal for the month was to blog for every day and link it to how it affects most everyone in one way or another. To show just one person that there is no escaping math, math runs our lives and it doesn't get the credit it should. Because the bottom line is - Math Rules!

For my last post of the month, I figured why not go back to the basics? As the age of technology continues to reign, changing the way we communicate, educate, and live life, the human race has become incredibly dependent on our computers, networks, and electronics. However, the information age wouldn't be possible without math and the binary language. For those of you who have never heard of binary this is a crash course, 60 second video explaining binary. This website also explains "In a more general sense, binary systems can be anything which offers only two options, not necessarily limited to numerical systems. In the case of electronic switches, for example, the binary system consists of current-no current. A true-false exam is another example of a binary system. Yes-no questions are also binary in nature." If you'll remember back to Greg Tang's workshop, binary is also known as base two.

While binary runs our most advanced tools today, binary was the primary math language for Australian aboriginal people and cultures and groups of people who relied on smoke or drum messages. Morse code is a binary language. The utter simplicity of binary is what led to the efficiency of the computer. The digital world relies on the simplest of math languages! Anything that relies on a digital processor, computers, servers, digital watches, phones, video games, TVs, digital alarm clocks, computers that track car maintenence, even digital refrigerators and other appliances all are running on the binary language. In almost every computer built since the 1950s, the binary system has advanced digital computer capabilities to an incredible degree by simplifiying information processing.

A special message from me:

So there we have it! This is the last official Math Awareness Month blog post. If you have a second, check out the MAM survey so I can get feedback on the month. I'll continue updating about volunteering with Math Rules! and with MathSTARS with the occasional math related topic of interest. Thanks for checking in on my blog!

Click here to take the Math Awareness Month survey!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

MAM Day 29: Are we there yet?

We've covered math on the T, and math on foot, but math in a car is one of the obvious places where you'll find math. The speedometer is a great start, it's measuring speed in miles per hour. We can use the speedometer and road signs to know how much further we've got to go. If we've been traveling at roughly 70 miles/hour or MPH, and we're 200 miles away from our destination, we should get there in roughly 3 more hours. Easy right?

What I've always wondered is why speedometers go so high, typical highway speeds don't go much higher than 75 mph.

The other big math process we use for cars is determining gas mileage. Gas mileage is how many miles your car can run per gallon of gas. Calculating gas mileage requires that you know how many gallons your car's gas tank holds, and also keeping track of the odometer. The odometer tracks how many miles your car has traveled in total. Newer cars have multiple odometers that can also track the miles on a single trip, very handy for tracking your gas mileage.

The odometers are the counters in the middle.

So if you wrote down the miles off the odometer when you fill up, and then write down the miles at your next fill up (your car should be as empty as possible to track accurate mileage). Find the difference in miles and you have the total miles traveled on that tank of gas. Divide the total miles by how many gallons of gas your car can hold and you've got gas mileage in miles per gallon. Here's an exercise for kids to calculate gas mileage.

Obviously, the higher your gas mileage, the better. Cars typically get better gas mileage on the highway because they aren't wasting gas for starting and stopping. Heavy traffic will cause your gas mileage, your wallet, and your sanity to suffer. My aunt suggested that I keep track of gas mileage to make sure the car is running well. If your gas mileage changes significantly, you'll know something's up and you should take your car to the shop. If you track gas mileage for a few months, you'll get a sense of how long an average tank of gas will last.

I love license plates!

There's tons of numbers on a road trip, from license plates to road signs, billboards to just counting other cars. A great resource for car math ideas.

A video of a mental math game in the car

Although I don't quite understand the sport of car racing (it's incredibly wasteful of gas and I'm not sure how much athleticism is really required for drivers and the spectators) there is a lot of math involved with car racing from car speeds, laps, times in comparison to other cars, and the prep work that's required before a race, tire treads, weight restrictions, and finally the all famous speed of pit crews.

Here's more complex car math including horsepower and torque and tire diameters and gear ratios. Everything else is car lingo I don't understand.

Happy road tripping!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

MAM Day 28: Math on foot

To write this blog today, as a full time pedestrian and part time rider, I am continually interested in rates of walking behind other people, rates of running, juding speeds of cars, etc. So I searched rate of change, math problems that deal with rates of walking or running and found a few great examples.

I found myself longing for my calculus days, when I could understand these pretty complex word problems without a second thought. Working through these following problems, I struggled with the algebra, setting up the problem, and trying my best to remember how calculus makes these problems so much easier.

The rate of change is a foundation of calculus and derivatives. Since I've forgotten most of that and don't particularly want to reteach myself in a few hours, we'll skip over as much of the calculus as possible. Welsh corgis are excellent at doing calculus, maybe they can review calculus with me.

If you'll remember those math problems that state: a train leaves from City A at some time going at x miles per hour and another train leaving from City B leaves at a later time going at a different speed, the word problems tend to ask "When do they meet?" or "Which train gets there first?" These are the problems I'm talking about, distance = rate x time or d=rt. While they're fun to work through, they take up a lot of time and mental concentration to get all the parts right.

If train A and train B are traveling on the same track, shouldn't the question be "When do they crash?"

I worked through this problem using paper and pencil and found that I struggled with the alegbra. Despite my rusty algebra and calculus skills, I found working through the problem to be relaxing. Plus I couldn't stop once I started. The question asks if it's faster to run half a distance then walk the other half, or to run half the time and walk half the time.

This problem was also interesting to read through. I tried to maximize her sponsorship money, but after graphing the equation I realized that she would make the most money if she ran the entire way, but that's not realistic, or what the question was asking. Oh well.

Back to my initial interest in this topic. As a walker in Boston, we've all experienced getting stuck behind someone who is taking their time looking at buildings and the scenery. However, when you're in a rush or trying to catch a bus or T, I severely dislike it when a slowpoke is in front of me on the sidewalk or walking down the stairs. We all walk at different speeds, and I shouldn't blame anyone but myself for being late, but after doing some research, it seems that rates of walking are much more mathematically complex than it would appear.

Effectively navigating the streets of Boston takes a lot of skill.

Walking sometimes requires an optimization analysis, especially if you're running late. Let's say I've got somewhere to be at 6 but leave the office a later than I planned. Should I walk to the nearest T or should I just walk it to the station I would be transferring to later? It ultimately depends on how fast you walk versus how long a wait would be for the T. Other factors like weather also influence people's choices. People cut through grass fields, take smaller roads, use alleys for shortcuts, use the stairs instead of wait for the elevator, etc. Path optimization is anoter part of math on foot.

I also think about judging speeds as a walker. If you're crossing the road when the crosswalk lights haven't said it's ok (jaywalking if you will) you have to properly judge how fast a car is going. You might also have to judge the rate of change in speed if the driver chooses to slow down and let you pass or speed up to try and hit illegal street crossers. I'll try my best to stop jaywalking, but in the meantime, I'll use my rate judgement to stay alive. This goes to show survival skills depend on math.

So today's blog post was brought to you by: rates of change, distance, rate, time, and speed.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

MAM Bonus: Interview with my sister

I called my sister yesterday to talk about how much math she uses in her school work. She's a second year architecture student at the University of New Mexico. I originally wanted to use it in a blog post, but we started talking about other math related things and I just thought it was interesting enough to get its own blog post. Now, my sister is about 7 times smarter than I am so I hope you'll bear with me through our somewhat philosophical discussion of math.

So I started off asking how much math she uses every day to design. Turns out, because UNM is more focused on the aesthetics of design, they don't rely on math as much as I had hoped. The prerequisite for getting into the architecture program is Trigonometry, and a required Calculus 1 by the time architecture students graduate from the program. Not too much math, if you ask me. Which is a shame because I know my sister is a math rockstar.

She didn't build this one, but similar models.

So I asked her if she uses math in some or all of her projects, I would assume so because designing on paper or the computer and translating it into 3D models requires some sort of math. She told me one of her first projects involved calculating the angles of the sun in conjunction with building a model. She used her trig skills on this project, and many other projects as well.

Most of her models rely on a scale, one inch on the model represents 8 feet or 10 feet in real construction terms. She also pointed out that they calculate slopes from time to time when they're putting in handicap accessible ramps and making sure it's not too steep a slope.

It would seem that she doesn't use hard math as much as I thought architecture students would, but perhaps it's because of her program, or the fact that she's only a student and not a certified and experienced architect (though I hope she gets there soon!).

So I asked her if she uses math every day. She countered with "can we really live a day without math?" After 27 days of everyday math, I would have to say we really can't. If we are living in civilized society, there is no escaping math. Time and money are the two biggest resources people deal with every day, and both are math and number related.

Yesterday I noticed that the bus system relies on numbers and routes, if you mess up your numbers, you'll end up somewhere you didn't want to (this happened to me one day when I hopped on the 23 bus instead of the 22). It happens! And if you're not paying attention to your numbers, you could be stuck somewhere. A bus rider asked me what time it was. People who pay fares need to know how much is enough and how much is too much for a bus fare. Three examples of math while waiting for the bus. You can't get away from it.

Which bus is this? The 23 or the 22?

My sister and I concluded that math has permeated the organization of society so much that it's nearly impossible to not be dealing with math on a daily basis. Most of the time it's unconscious, we don't think about it too hard. After learning how to tell time, we can easily let other people know what time it is, after learning how money works, we can buy and sell things we need, etc. Earlier civilizations relied on barter and trading before money was invented, but there was still some sort of value and wealth system, a cow is worth more than a chicken, and the guy who has 100 cows is the "richest."

But what about societies and cultures that don't rely on time or money? My sister came up with the basic instincts of survival. If humans are living with others, we need to count and estimate in order to survive. To effectively pool our resources and make sure everyone we're interacting with has enough to eat and drink we have to measure and divide accordingly. Humans living outside our definitions of "civilized" society are still dealing with math in one way or another. And if you're stranded on an island, without anyone to share food and shelter with, I would be willing to bet that you're counting the days until you get saved or perish.

Finally, we then discussed if animals have some sort of understanding of math over survival. At first I'm wasn't sure that animals are aware of groups, sharing resources, and possess number sense. However, after doing some internet research, there is evidence that some species do understand concepts of more and less, and can compute simple math problems. An optimizing Corgi, an example of animal calculus.Monkeys can also perform simple addition.

Hans the math horse

I guess it goes to show that even if animals aren't solving complex mathematical enigmas or doing multivariable calculus that some animals posses math skills. Animals are far more complex than we give them credit for. For all we know, animals may be doing more math than my sister's architecture program. I sure hope not...


MAM Day 27: Optimization of space

Hey math fans! Following yesterday's topic of packaging, today's topic is the optimization of space, something I've been looking forward to the entire month. I'm not sure why I'm so fascinated with the optimization in general, but the optimization of space is something I see it quite a bit in my day-to-day.

Optimization generally refers to maximizing or minimizing a mathematical function and finding the max or min value of the function. Merriam-Webster defines it as: an act, process, or methodology of making something (as a design, system, or decision) as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible. The optimization of space then means being able to spatially fit as much stuff into a defined space as possible, the optimization of volume in a way.

I have quite a few real world examples, but yesterday, my friend Sonal over at Science Club for Girls had a peculiar problem. We were on a fast food adventure with another friend and she had lots of Science Club stuff in her back seat. To make enough room for both of us in her car, we had to reorganize the boxes. By giving up her rear view, all three of us fit in the car and we had a successful adventure.

Some of us love optimizing space

Another example that helped me think up this topic is the public transportation system in Boston, the T. I'm sure lots of us have experienced a crowded T before, after work during rush hour, rainy days on the Silver Line, Sox game nights, Bruins game nights, weekend nights on the B Line, after big city-wide events like the 4th or the Boston Marathon. There are lots of cases when this happens, and most of us dread a packed T car. I tend to feel really uncomfortable being squished in with so many other people, trying my best not to fall over or push and shove some stranger.

Look familiar?

But it's an optimization problem when you're on the outside, trying to push your way into the T so you can get home. How many people CAN fit in one of those cars? It all depends on how efficiently people can maneuver themselves into the space, how much personal space they're willing to give up, and how much or little stuff people have with them, etc. There are a number of factors, but if everyone on the T can give up just a little more space, more people can pack onto the T car. It's about minimizing our personal space and minimizing our discomfort, in order to maximize how many people can get on the T. It amuses me for about 5 minutes before I intensely dislike feeling like cattle :(

In Japan they have subway workers who push people into the subway.

Optimization of space happens when you're packing for a trip, packing a suitcase, backpack, duffel bag, whatever. How do you fit all your clothes into the bag? Sometimes, it comes down to an optimization problem. If you need all your stuff to fit, but don't have enough room, sometimes reorganizing everything helps things fit better. Other times you have to leave something behind, take stuff out so that everything else can fit. Either way, it's an unconscious optimization problem.

My roommates and I were discussing how parking garages manage to fit so many cars into one area. We also reveled in the design of parking structures that allows cars to both go up and down at the same time. We guessed that they're structured like DNA helix or rotini pasta, there are two rotating levels that let people go up or down and sections in between that let people choose which way they want to go. But parking structures are optimizing how to store cars. Instead of having a parking lot, we can store literally tons more cars in the same space.

Not quite the same as a helix parking structure, but you get the idea right?

Speaking of the DNA helix, talk about optimization of space! Two or three meters of DNA fit into one single human cell!

How about living situations? People who live in apartments (a large majority of Boston residents) are literally living on top of one another. The optimization of residential space comes down to how comfortable people are living in small spaces. The City of Boston's population of 620,000 is spatially living in an area of about 50 square miles. My hometown has about 100,000 less people living in an area three and a half times larger than Boston's area. The population density of Boston is 12,800 people/square mile, while my hometown's population density is only 2,800 people/square mile. Lots of people live in apartment buildings in Boston, while more people live in houses in New Mexico.

These pictures are population density maps that show how many people are living in certain areas of the world or the United States.

A few months back, I also came across a photo series that is incredibly revealing about how Hong Kong residents have adapted to this optimization of human living spaces problem. It seems less space is a small living movement in minimization of stuff and space.

One of the most interesting photo series I've seen yet.


Monday, April 26, 2010

MAM Day 26: Real World Geometry Part 3

The last installment of real world geometry is packaging of food and other products. From Earth Day statistics: $1 out of every $11 Americans spend for food goes for packaging.

If you're buying food at the grocery store, chances are you've experienced packaging and the incredible industry that is dedicated to researching and designing new and updated packaging. Packaging influences what catches our eyes when we walk into a store, it influences what we buy or don't buy, and it influences what brands we are most loyal to. Packaging designs are an art really, an art that is based on the geometry of what goes inside.

A great article on The Power of The Box

Some packaging is fancy origami. But think of the spatial research and thousands of hours spent on the design of a package before it hits shelves.

I'm sure most of you have seen how sports drinks, sodas, and bottled water gets updated every once a year or so with a "new package." Gatorade is unveils new designs quite often. Pepsi (the parent company of Gatorade) also goes through brand and packaging redesigns often.

In addition to the increases in portion sizes, Coca Cola bottles have gone through significant redesigns. I'm highly intrigued by how much work actually goes into a new packaging for any product. It seems like a healthy intersection of art, design, and math that makes this such an exciting topic for me. New bottle designs are necessary for a company that wants to stay on top, with new designs, new marketing, new advertisements and a rebranding as a hip and contemporary company.

Coca Cola is also dedicated to reducing packaging and therefore waste.

Mustard and ketchup redesigns are also really exciting. Remember when the newfangled no drip/water squeeze bottles come out and everyone was really excited that mustard/ketchup juice wouldn't gross you out or ruin your hotdogs? All thanks to packaging research.

A science fair project on juice box packaging.

More fancy packaging designs

How to package and store spherical things

Packaging also includes other products that aren't food related. I recently bought tablet for my computer (and no it's not the same thing as an iPad) and was shocked at how much packaging accompanied my tablet. The box outside, an inner molded cardboard holder for my 12.8 oz tablet, lots of plastic bags, wrapping around the cords and bits and pieces of other various "packaging." It's hard to know what's recyclable and what isn't and I would wager that most people just toss everything that they didn't want into the trash instead of separating recyclables out. Despite the waste that packaging produces, experts have to design (using geometry!) and make sure products are packaged the way the company wants.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

MAM Day 25: Real World Geometry part 2

Today's post was supposed to be about real world applications of math and geometry in certain fields of work such as, but not limited to: construction, architecture, interior design, landscapers, chemistry and pharmaceutical research and development, software engineers and other computer related work, accountants, business, banking, environmental and biology research, etc. The list goes on and on. There are few jobs out there that do not have ANY math related whatsoever. Even my current AmeriCorps position as a volunteer manager is not directly related to math, but I've found I use math in evaluating the program, comparing student grades, and making sure I've got accurate counts of volunteers and students.

This website is a great resource for youth who ask "When will I use math?" - "The top 15 highest-earning college degrees all have one thing in common -- math skills. That's according to a recent survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which tracks college graduates' job offers."

I wanted to focus on geometry and math in construction, architecture, and interior design because it interests me a great deal. I like geometry a lot, and I wish I had the determination to pursue a career in architecture. In college, I went into humanities and the social sciences instead. I like to think that I'm spatially adept, but construction workers, contractors, architects, and interior designers have developed their spatial skills beyond the norm. I'm looking to get an interview with my sister who is studying to become an architect. I'd like to ask her how much math she's actually using on a day to day basis. Unfortunately, she's two time zones behind and probably too busy to chat with me because of all her projects.

The extent of my experience with construction and design is through playing the Sims games. The Sims is a simulation game of "real life" in a virtual world. My sister and I got into it a few years back. You can create your own characters and have them live lives under your control. Our favorite part of the game was designing and building houses. The game allows you to build whatever house you can possibly imagine, and it's really an exciting opportunity to build your dream house.

I've used real world houses and apartments for some of my Sims' characters, and try my best to emulate what the real world is like. You can also do interior design for the houses, and buy furniture, appliances, lighting and decorations for your houses. Unfortunately, there is no math involved in building the Sims' houses, BUT, when I use a real house's floor plan, I estimate to get the dimensions right. It's a challenge to walk through an interesting house or apartment and then trying my best to remember all the details to build in virtual reality.

Floor plans are exciting to me because of all the math and the geometry of it all.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

MAM Day 24: Real World Geometry part 1

On Saturday, I participated in Opportunity to Serve through the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship (pictures to come soon!). There were five different projects in eastern Massachusetts, and I chose to go to the America SCORES project with World Cup Boston at Franklin Field / Harambee Park in Dorchester. Opportunity to Serve is a day of service, in conjunction with Global Youth Service Day, that is organized and planned mostly by youth in different youth organizations across Massachusetts. I got to experience a little flavor of World Cup Boston, an organization that is working to bring diverse communities together through a celebration of the World Cup being held in South Africa this summer. There are different events happening around Boston, with the World Cup final being shown in City Hall Plaza on July 11th. World Cup Boston is also hosting a second day of service on July 9th, visit their website for more information.

In the morning, I co-facilitated a Girls' LEAP workshop for a very diverse group while volunteer teams revitalized the park at Grove Hall and started to lay turf/sod on a soccer field in Harambee Park. After a brief lunch, I headed outside for some service in the sun and quickly got recruited to lay sod on the other end of the soccer field. For those of you who don't know, sod, also known as turf, are rolled up mounds of dirt and pre-grown grass that is laid out for even and high quality grass, athletic fields, and landscaping.

So a big team of volunteers grabbed rolls of sod and laid them out, fitting the pieces together to make a part of the field. It turns out, installing sod is a lot more work than you would think. A roll of sod was about 15~20 pounds of dirt and grass, and we used wheelbarrows to move them from stacks to the field. I tried using a wheelbarrow at first, but they're surprisingly hard to move with three or four rolls of sod in them.

Here's where the math comes in. At first, they underestimated how much sod was needed to fill up the two ends of the field. By the time I came outside, a big truck packed with sod pulled up, and we got to finish up the end of the field. The rolls were maybe 18 inches across and four feet long, some simple math would've covered them and saved some last minute sod deliveries.

Thanks to, the dimensions of a typical soccer field are 60 yards by 100 yards. I would guess-timate that we covered both ends of the field (the middle hadn't been cleared for sodding) to the border of the penalty area, which is 60 yards by 18~20 yards, on both ends or roughly 2400 square yards. If my estimation skills are any good, the rolls of sod were 864 square inches. 2400 square yards is 3,110,400 square inches, so they should've bought 3,600 rolls of sod. (Can someone check my math?!) Who knows? My guess-timation is just trying to prove that math could've helped us all out.

In the end it doesn't matter because we worked hard and got the rest of the field covered in less than two hours maybe. After we had finished, we regrouped for snacks and drinks and loosely made plans for the evening. Unfortunately, we were wiped out and didn't end up going out after all. We took naps and when I woke up with body aches, I didn't feel like blogging. Sorry for the delay, but I managed to work in some math on my day of service.

I'm glad we didn't have to make any sod sofas, think of the math that requires.


Friday, April 23, 2010

MAM Day 23: Standardized Tests

Did the picture above make you anxious? Do scantron sheets and filling in the bubbles not make sense to you? What are the chances that many of you know exactly what I'm talking about? Today's post is on standardized tests. I would guess it's been a while since some of you have taken a standardized test, but most Boston Public School students will take (or have taken) a standardized test this year.

MCAS, Terra Nova, SAT, ACT, and GRE are just some of the biggest and most recognizable standardized tests in the United States.

From my research it seems there are two big debates around standardized tests. 1) Standardized tests don't take socio-cultural differences and backgrounds into consideration when the tests are created. Standardized tests are accused of cultural bias. 2) Standardized tests have weakened academic and district curriculum. Teachers then create lesson plans that revolve around the standardized tests instead of encouraging intellectual creativity and curiosity - teachers are accused of "teaching to the test".

So why are almost 2/3rds of Massachusetts students are still taking the MCAS? Why are students across the nation required to take a standardized test at some point in their academic careers? The SAT and ACT are taken by all students who go to college, and graduate standardized tests are even more rigorous.

Standardized tests are "standard" so all the students who take them are being tested on the same material. The MCAS is standardized because schools and districts across the Commonwealth don't have the same curriculum and therefore cannot measure how much and what a student has learned. Students who take the SAT are being tested on general concepts and skills that have been proven to predict a students' academic success through college. The only way students in Wisconsin can be compared to students in Oklahoma is by a standardized test.

State standardized tests are also important to gague how well a school is doing, how well teachers are educating their students. If students are consistently doing poorly on a certain section of the test, it means the school curriculum needs to be revised to address the what and how students are being taught. If students aren't being taught well, it might also mean that teachers haven't been trained enough to address certain topics.

The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assesment System or the MCAS is a statewide standardized test for students grades 3 through 10. Students have to pass the MCAS in order to graduate from Boston Public Schools. Although Massachusetts students tend to show high achievement in comparison to the rest of the nation, last year many schools and districts in the Commonwealth don't meet national or state benchmarks for achievement - 54% of all schools statewide, failed to meet the benchmarks. Although I don't know how to solve this problem, I do know that volunteers who provide academic support are working, slowly but surely, to bring up MCAS scores. Not to worry, there are MCAS supporters who see a brighter future for our students and the MCAS.

The SAT is one of the most distinguished standardized tests, which is used as a benchmark for college acceptance across the United States. The ACT is the other standardized test used to gauge a student's college potential. I believe the ACT is more widely used in colleges on the West Coast. This article details the differences between theACT and the SAT.

Boston students will be taking their math MCAS in May! If you're working with students, cheer them on and help them while you can!
Grades 3 – 8 : May 10 – May 27
Grade 10 : May 17 - May18

I'll end with a few standardized test resources:
Teachers' tips for standardized test takers.
MCAS prep help


Thursday, April 22, 2010

MAM Day 22: Earth Day

Today is Earth Day! Earth Day was started in 1970 to honor the Earth and to acknowledge our relationship to the environment. Many people around the world have special events to commemorate and education about keeping the environment healthy. Environmental activists and organizations try to start dialogs on major environmental issues and then work together to come up with effective strategies to tackle the issues.

Although I'm not an evironmental activist, there are a few things I know how to do to keep the environment safe and healthy. The bulk of today's post are facts and figures on recycling: help save the Earth by recycling! A little extra work goes a long way. Recycling statistics prove that recycling is helping to make the world a better place :)

Facts from Clearwater Florida
*The average American uses 650 lbs. of paper per year.
*100 million tons of wood could be saved each year if all that paper was actually recycled!

An hour of plastic bottles

*Americans go through 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. We go through 25 billion plastic bottles every year.
*Recycling aluminum saves about 95% of the energy it would take to produce aluminum from its original source, bauxite.
*Recycling one aluminum can saves enough electricity to run a TV for three hours.
*Through recycling each year, the steel industry saves enough energy to power 18 million homes - one-fifth of the households in the US.

Facts from my alma mater, Oberlin, Ohio where I realized how easy it is to recycle.
*About 75 percent of the water we use in our homes is used in the bathroom.
*Letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours.

*Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are an energy-saving alternative to incandescent bulbs — they produce the same amount of light, use one third of the electricity, and last up to ten times as long.
*If every household replaced its most often-used incandescent light bulbs with CFLs, electricity use for lighting could be cut in half.

*Many idle electronics — TVs, VCRs, DVD and CD players, cordless phones, microwaves — use energy even when switched off to keep display clocks lit and memory chips and remote controls working. Nationally, these energy “vampires” use 5 percent of our domestic energy and cost consumers more than $8 billion annually. Use this handy energy calculator to see how much energy and money it costs to leave idle electronics.

Instead of using one of these natural monuments every year, we can recycle and save incredible amounts of energy

*Each of us uses approximately one 100-foot-tall Douglas fir tree in paper and wood products per year.
*More than 56 percent of the paper consumed in the U.S. during 2007 was recovered for recycling — an all-time high. This impressive figure equals nearly 360 pounds of paper for each man, woman, and child in America.
*Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil, and 4,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity — enough energy to power the average American home for five months.

*The 36 billion aluminum cans landfilled last year had a scrap value of more than $600 million. (Some day we'll be mining our landfills for the resources we've buried.)

*Glass never wears out -- it can be recycled forever. We save over a ton of resources for every ton of glass recycled -- 1,330 pounds of sand, 433 pounds of soda ash, 433 pounds of limestone, and 151 pounds of feldspar.


* In a lifetime, the average American will throw away 600 times his/her adult weight in garbage. If you add it up, this means that a 150-lb. adult will leave a legacy of 90,000 lbs of trash for his/her children.

Earth 911 a great resource for environmentalism. A list of all recyclable products Boston recycles all plastics except for styrofoam! Back at Oberlin we could only recycle #1 and #2 plastics, but you don't have to separate out any plastics here! Awesome!

Boston's polices on recycling. You can also search by neighborhood/street when the City picks up trash and recycling as well.