1 in 1,461th

Guess what! This is a leap year and tomorrow is “Leap Day 2020”!! It’s an extra day that comes every four years. (more about that below) So what are you going to do with your extra day? Well, you could sleep in. Or you could… play a game of chess, attack that impossible jigsaw puzzle, play a cross word puzzle, take up knitting, take up painting, photography, dancing, guitar or pottery making. You could go fishing, go for a long drive, go sky diving or binge watch that Netflix series you’ve been wanting to see. Or, like I said, you could sleep-in. Happy leap day!!!


Tomorrow marks a special day every four years – “Leap Day”.  A leap year is any year with 366 days instead of the usual 365 days. Therefore, leap day in 2020 falls on Saturday, February 29th.
So… why the extra day?  It was the ancient Egyptians who first figured out that the solar year and the calendar year didn’t always match up.  That’s because it actually takes the Earth a little longer than a year to travel around the Sun — 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds, to be exact.  Therefore, as hours accumulated over the centuries, an extra day was occasionally added to the calendar, and over time the practice became more or less official. Now my baby sister, who is a leap year baby, loves this anomaly as she gets two birthdays 3 out of every 4 years! Here is some great trivia on the origins, and some fun trivia on the day itself – enjoy, and special thanks to MIT, Google, Hackaday, Readers Digest and moneytalksnews.com.

This connection between the stars and the keeping of time as well as the search for more accurate clocks has continued even until today.  In fact, even today, the most accurate clocks in the universe are not built here on earth but are found in pulsars that inhabit regions of space beyond our own solar system.

Familiar objects in the sky that change their positions over time, specifically the sun, moon, planets, and stars have provided mankind with a reference for measuring the passage of time throughout our existence.  There were three natural clocks that ancient man could discern when he looked up at the sky.  First, the rising and setting of the sun and stars measures the day and night (diurnal motion).  Second, the phase cycle of the moon was used for the month.  Third, the apparent motion of the sun amongst the unmoving background of the stars gave rise to the concept of the year.  Unlike the day, month, and year, we can see that there is no celestial basis for the days of the week.  These seven days seem to have been named after the seven bright heavenly bodies that ancient man saw move across the sky.

Ancient civilizations relied upon the apparent motion of these “sky objects” through the heavens to determine seasons, months, and years.  The ancient Babylonians had a lunisolar calendar of 12 lunar months of 30 days each, adding extra months when necessary to keep the calendar in line with the seasons of the year. The ancient Egyptians were the first to replace the lunar calendar with a calendar based on the solar year.  The earliest Egyptian calendar was based on the moon’s cycles, but later the Egyptians realized that the “Dog Star” in Canis Major, which we call Sirius, rose next to the sun every 365 days, about when the annual inundation of the Nile began.  Based on this knowledge, they devised a 365-day calendar that seems to have begun in 4236 B.C., the earliest recorded year in history.  They measured the solar year as 365 days, divided into 12 months of 30 days each, with 5 extra days at the end.  About 238 BC King Ptolemy III ordered that an extra day be added to every fourth year, similar to the modern leap year.

In Babylonia, again in Iraq, a year of 12 alternating 29-day and 30-day lunar months was observed before 2000 B.C., giving a 354-day year.  In contrast, the Mayans of Central America relied not only on the sun and moon, but most importantly to them, the planet Venus, to establish 260-day and 365-day calendars.

This culture flourished from around 2000 B.C. until about 1500 A.D.  They left celestial-cycle records indicating their belief that the creation of the world occurred in 3113 B.C.  Their calendars later became portions of the great Aztec calendar stones.  In ancient Greece, a lunisolar calendar was in use, with a year of 354 days. The Greeks were the first to insert extra months into the calendar on a scientific basis, adding months at specific intervals in a cycle of solar years.

Other civilizations, such as our own, have adopted a 365-day solar calendar with a leap year occurring every fourth year. When Julius Caesar came to power in Rome, he discovered that the alignment of the seasons with the months was all “wrong”.  In 46 B.C., he extended the year to include 445 days to correctly align the months and seasons.  He then established the Julian calendar on the advice from the Alexandrian astronomer, Sosigenes who determined the length of the year as 365 ¼ days.  To account for the extra quarter day each year, an extra day was added every fourth year and thus the leap year was born.

Although the new Julian calendar had a length of 365.2500 days, this differed enough from the actual astronomical year of 365.2422 days that by the time 1,600 years had passed, Pope Gregory XIII had to subtract 11 days from the calendar to align it with astronomical observations.  In 1582 on the advice of the astronomer Calvius, Pope Gregory issued a papal bull ordering the day after Thursday, October 4 to be Friday, October 15.  Thus, the Gregorian calendar that we employ today was born.  To keep the Gregorian calendar from running “fast” like the Julian one did, the Gregorian calendar drops the leap year day from any multiple of 100 years that is not evenly divisible by 400.  This change gives the year an average length of 365.2425 days which is so close to the astronomical one that the error is only 3 days in 10,000 years.

The concept of keeping track of the passage of time within a given day seems to have originated 5,000 to 6,000 years ago in the civilizations of the Middle East and North Africa.  The oldest clocks that have survived were Egyptian obelisks that divided the day into a first and second half.  Later, flat sundials divided the day into partitions similar to hours and then, in an attempt at greater accuracy, curved sundials, called hemicycles were developed about 300 B.C.  By 30 B.C., at least 13 different sundial styles were in use in Greece, Asia Minor, and Italy.  Actual clocks that used a repetitive process to mark off equal increments of time and employed some means of keeping track of the increments of time and displaying the result have been discovered in tombs from around 1500 B.C.

In 2020, leap year lines happen to perfectly line up the major holidays so that Valentine’s Day lands on date night Friday and Cinco de Mayo lands on traditional “Taco” Tuesday – (did I ever tell you how much I love tacos??).  Christmas 2020 and New Year’s Day 2021 are also on a Friday, meaning a leisurely 3-day weekend to kick off both holidays!

Anyone born on a leap day is known as a “leapling”, according to astrologers, you were born under the sign of Pisces on February 29 – very confusing for 1/1,461th of the population. Owing to the unique day on which you arrived into the world, like other leap day babies you are more apt to go your own way and exhibit an independent streak and optimistic spirit.  While they have to wait every four years to “officially” observe their birthdays, leap year babies typically choose either February 28 or March 1 to celebrate in years that aren’t leap years.

Leap Day traditions – no man is safe!  While leap day helped official timekeepers, it also resulted in social customs turned upside down when February 29 became a “no man’s land” without legal jurisdiction.   As the story goes, the tradition of women romantically pursuing men in leap years began in 5th century Ireland, when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about the fair sex having to wait for men to propose. Patrick finally relented and set February 29 aside as the day set aside allowing women the right to ask for a man’s hand in marriage.

The tradition continued in Scotland, when Queen Margaret declared in 1288 that on February 29 a woman had the right to pop the question to any man she fancied. Menfolk who refused were faced with a fine in the form of a kiss, a silk dress, or a pair of gloves that were given to the rejected lady fair.

A leap year poem to remember it by (best to read it aloud):  
     Thirty days hath September,
     April, June and November;  
     All the rest have thirty-one
     Save February, she alone
     Hath eight days and a score
     Til leap year gives her one day more.

If we’re looking at history a bit closer to home in the United States, then we should focus on Massachusetts. The Salem witchcraft trials weren’t a fun time in colonial America. There was a particularly negative connection with Leap Day. The first warrants for arrest went out on February 29th, 1692 for the Salem witchcraft trials.

Rarer still is the possibility that three children in the same family would be born on three consecutive Leap Days, but that’s exactly what happened with the Henriksen family of Norway. Heidi Henriksen was born on 2/29/1960, her brother Olav four years later on 2/29/64, and baby Leif-Martin four years after that on 2/29/68. According to many government agencies, the siblings would not legally be considered a year older until March 1st on non-leap years, but in 2020, we can officially say, “Happy Actual Birthday, leaplings!”

There is, however, one race of people who celebrate February 30th every year: Hobbits. The wee folk of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings universe observe twelve 30-day months every year—including Solmath (translated in the text to February). (That’s definitely one of the things I missed when reading Lord of the Rings for the first time).

The official Leap Day Cocktail is a colorful cousin of the martini, Invented by pioneering bartender Harry Craddock at London’s Savoy Hotel in 1928. According to the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, “It is said to have been responsible for more proposals than any other cocktail ever mixed” Whether or not you’re in the market for a freshly soused spouse, you can make your own Leap Day cocktail with Craddock’s original recipe of lemon juice, gin, grand marnier and sweet vermouth. RECIPE HERE


Anthony, Texas, is known as the Leap Year Capital of the World. The town’s chamber of commerce administers the Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Club and sponsors a multi-day Worldwide Leap Year Festival – which the town claims is the only such festival in the world. Former chamber member Mary Ann Brown, a Leap Day baby, proposed the club and festival in 1988 when she learned that her neighbor was also a Leap Day baby.

“Leap Day” is the name of a band. The Netherlands-based progressive rock group was founded on Feb. 29, 2008. And “Leap Year” is the name of a movie. Released in 2010, the romantic comedy is about a woman who travels to Ireland to propose to her boyfriend on Feb. 29. (we actually own this one!)












Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos. The next week there could be 15 logos. And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing. But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post. On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count. Just in the pictures area. Got it? Good.  :-))))  Have fun!!




Static electricity. We’ve all experienced it, especially in the dry air of winter. You may have even had an interesting hair day because of static electricity. (You may have noticed I don’t ever have that problem.)  Static will let you stick a balloon to the wall and make socks disappear. In the middle above you can get that cool TV Static t-shirt HERE. And you can decorate your car window with that cute dog face static cling. Get it HERE. One of the fun things about working in an office is access to copy machines. You might even have a printer at home. Well, that guy above wondered what would happen if he copied his face. See his video HERE. Give it a try. Apparently everyone else in the world has. Be creative!


Over the weekend while enjoying time together, Jackie and I and the girls had a real belly laugh when out of the blue my eldest daughters’ hair just stood straight out. For those that know me, that is not something that I will ever be able to experience for myself!!  It got me to thinking about the phenomenon and static electricity – what causes it and if there are any good outcomes from it – other than touching and shocking someone with it.  I went to my trusty search engine and found this great article from livescience.com (thanks guys) and You Tube for the videos.  Enjoy, and be sure to count the logos for my game players!

“Electric charge is a fundamental property of matter,” according to Michael Richmond, a physics professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Nearly all electric charge in the universe is carried by protons and electrons. Protons are said to have a charge of +1 electron unit, while electrons have a charge of −1, although these signs are completely arbitrary. Because protons are generally confined to atomic nuclei, which are in turn imbedded inside atoms, they are not nearly as free to move as are electrons. Therefore, when we talk about electric current, we nearly always mean the flow of electrons, and when we talk about static electricity, we generally mean an imbalance between negative and positive charges in objects.

So, what causes static charge buildup?  One common cause of static charge buildup is contact between solid materials. According to the University of Hawaii, “When two objects are rubbed together to create static electricity, one object gives up electrons and becomes more positively charged while the other material collects electrons and becomes more negatively charged.” This is because one material has weakly bound electrons, and the other has many vacancies in its outer electron shells, so electrons can move from the former to the latter creating a charge imbalance after the materials are separated. Materials that can lose or gain electrons in this way are called triboelectric, according to Northwestern University. One common example of this would be shuffling your feet across carpet, particularly in low humidity which makes the air less conductive and increases the effect.

Because “like” charges repel each other (think magnetic push), they tend to migrate to the extremities of the charged object in order to get away from each other. This is what causes your hair to stand on end when your body takes on a static charge, according to the Library of Congress. When you then touch a grounded piece of metal such as a screw on a light switch plate, this provides a path to ground for the charge that has built up in your body. This sudden discharge creates a visible and audible spark through the air between your finger and the screw. This is due to the high potential difference between your body and the ground which can be as much as 25,000 volts.

Another source of static charge is the motion of fluids through a pipe or hose. If that fluid is flammable — such as gasoline — a spark from a sudden discharge could result in a fire or explosion. People who handle liquid fuels take great care to avoid charge buildup and sudden discharge. In an interview, Daniel Marsh, professor of physics at Missouri Southern State University, warned that when putting gasoline in your car, you should always touch a metal part of the car after getting out to dissipate any charge that might have developed by sliding across the seat.

Lightning strikes are quite common for tall buildings.  For example, the iconic CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, as 1,814-foot tower, is struck about 80 times a year.  To protect it, long copper strips run from the top of its antennae down to 52 buried grounding rods in the ground that channel the charges.  This technique controls the charge and dissipates it into the ground.  The Empire State Building in NYC get hit about 25 times each year – nice video here

Static electricity can be a nuisance or even a danger. The energy that makes your hair to stand on end can also damage electronics and cause explosions. However, properly controlled and manipulated, it can also be a tremendous boon to modern life.

Moving gas and vapor can also generate static charge. The most familiar case of this is lightning. According to Martin A. Uman, author of “All About Lightning” (Dover, 1987), Benjamin Franklin proved that lightning was a form of static electricity when he and his son flew a kite during a thunderstorm. They attached a key to the kite string, and the wet string conducted charge from the cloud to the key which gave off sparks when he touched it. (Contrary to some versions of the legend, the kite was not struck by lightning. If it had been, the results could have been disastrous.)

Franklin in fact shaped the way we think about electricity. He became interested in studying electricity in 1742. Until then, most people thought that electrical effects were the result of mixing of two different electrical fluids. However, Franklin became convinced that there was only one single electric fluid and that objects could have an excess or deficiency of this fluid. He invented the terms “positive” and “negative,” referring to an excess or deficiency, according to the University of Arizona. Today, we know that the “fluid” was actually electrons, but those weren’t discovered for about 150 years.

According to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, clouds develop zones of static charge due to warm water droplets in updrafts exchanging electrons cold ice crystals in downdrafts. According to NASA, the potential between these atmospheric charges and the ground can exceed 300,000 volts, so the consequences of being struck by lightning can be deadly.

In a lightning strike, the current tends to move over the surface of the body in a process called “external flashover,” which can cause severe burns, particularly at the initial point of contact. Some of the current, though, can travel through the body and damage the nervous system, according to the National Weather Service. Additionally, the concussion from the blast can cause traumatic internal injuries and permanent hearing loss, and the bright flash can cause temporary or permanent vision damage. Check out this top 10 video on lightning strikes

While static electricity can be a nuisance or even a danger, as in the case of static cling or static shock, in other cases it can be quite useful. For instance, static charges can be induced by electrical current. One example of this is a capacitor, so named because it has the capacity to store electric charge, analogous to how a spring stores mechanical energy. A voltage applied to capacitor creates a charge difference between the plates. If the capacitor is charged and the voltage is switched off, it can retain the charge for some time.

Another way to create a useful static charge is with mechanical strain. In piezoelectric materials, electrons can literally be squeezed out of place and forced to move from the region that is under strain. The voltage due to the resulting charge imbalance can then be harnessed to do work. One application is energy harvesting, whereby low-power devices can operate on energy produced by environmental vibrations.

Localized static charges can also be affected by an intense light. This is the principle behind photocopiers and laser printers. In photocopiers, the light may come from a projected image of a sheet of paper; in laser printers, the image is traced onto the drum by a scanning laser beam. The entire drum is initially charged by a coronal discharge wire that gives off free electrons through the air, exploiting the same principle that causes St. Elmo’s fire. (St. Elmo’s fire is a persistent blue glow that occasionally appears near pointy objects during storms. The name is something of a misnomer, as the electric phenomenon has more in common with lightning or the northern lights than it does with flame).  In copiers, the electrons from the wire are then attracted to a positively charged drum. An image is then projected onto the photoconductive drum, and the charge is dissipated from the illuminated areas, while the dark areas of the image remain charged. The charged areas on the drum can then attract oppositely charged toner particles which are then rolled onto the paper, which is backed by a positively charged roller, and fused in place by an electric heating element. (I’d love to meet the team that figured this out … after all these years, I still marvel at the efficiency of office printers).

Captains of the seas and skies know St. Elmo’s fire best, as the ethereal light has long been sighted clinging to the masts of ships and more recently the wings of planes. Mariners have noted the spectacle for thousands of years, but only in the last century and a half have scientists learned enough about the structure of matter to understand why the phenomenon takes place. It’s not gods or saints that kindle the enigmatic fire, but one of the five states of matter: plasma. Here’s a cool video



Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I. Love. My. Logo.
One week there could be three logos. The next week there could be 15 logos. And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing. But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post. On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count. Just in the pictures area. Got it? Good.  :-))))  Have fun!!










Simply Delicious

There’s nothing wrong with chocolate. Absolutely nothing. It smells good. Looks good. Tastes good. It can be made into endless shapes and will bring smiles to the faces of those who partake. And now real chocolate fans can even wear it. Like that yummy chocolate cake dripping with chocolate t-shirt eight rows down. BUY HERE. And that cool red m&m’s face t-shirt next to it. BUY HERE. Or that awesome m&m’s t-shirt on the next line. BUY HERE. And my geeky chocolate loving friends might like the chocolate molecule shirt. BUY HERE. I might buy this chocolate chip cookie mouse pad but I’m afraid of putting on 10 pounds just looking at it. BUY HERE.  And there’s nothing like hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day in a Kowalski mug that you could win—see details at the end of this email. I do like m&m’s, which might be the greatest invention of all time. I’m especially partial to the red ones.  :)))

First off, Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone.  Like most holidays that involve food, fun and good tidings, VD is at the top of my list – (until St. Patty’s Day rolls around).  It’s such a nice tradition, started back in the year 496 – a very old tradition, thought to have originated from a Roman festival called Lupercalia in the middle of February – officially the start of their springtime.  For me, spending time with Jackie and sending love to my girls, son’s in law, and granddaughter,  is the best.  Of course, Valentines Day is not so much without CHOCOLATE!  Milk, dark, white, bars, kisses, syrup, ice cream, cake – all good. Below is a little history, fun facts and trivia you’re sure to delight your loved ones.  Enjoy, and thanks to Google and factretriever.com for the info.

The first people to harvest chocolate were the Mokaya and other pre-Olmec peoples who lived in southeast Mexico around 1000 B.C. The word “chocolate” is derived from the Mayan word xocolatl, or “bitter water.”

Although cacao originated in Central and South America more than 4,000 years ago, today approximately 70% of the world’s cacao is grown in Africa. Cote d’lvoire is the single largest producer of cocoa, providing roughly 40% of the world’s supply.

The cacao tree’s botanical name is Theobroma Cacao, which means “food of the gods” (they sure go this one right!!) in Greek.  From the beginning, chocolate has traditionally been associated with magical, medicinal, and mythical properties.  Cacao has been around for millions of years and is probably one of the oldest of nature’s foods.

Nearly all cacao trees grow within 20 degrees of the equator, and 75% grow within 8 degrees of either side of it. Cacao trees grow in three main regions: West Africa, South and Central America, and Southeast Asia/Oceania.

Each cacao tree can produce approximately 2,500 beans. It takes a cacao tree four to five years to produce its first beans and it takes approximately 400 cacao beans to make one pound of chocolate.  The trees can live to be 200 years old, but they produce marketable cocoa beans for only 25 years.

Ninety percent of modern cacao is made from a type of cacao called forastero (foreigner). However, before the 1800s, cacao was made from a type of bean called criollo. Even though forastero does not taste as good as criollo, it is easier to grow.

The English chocolate company Cadbury made the first chocolate bar in the world in 1842. George Cadbury, a Quaker, amassed a great fortune producing drinking chocolate as an alternative to alcohol. Cadbury hoped chocolate would tempt people away from alcohol.

In 1875, Swiss Daniel Peter discovered a way of mixing condensed milk, manufactured by his friend Henri Nestlé, with chocolate to create the first milk chocolate.

In 1879, Swiss Rodolphe Lindt discovered conching, an essential process in refining chocolate. He discovered it by accident when his assistant left a machine running all night.

Hershey Kisses were first introduced in 1907 and, Hershey’s produces over 70 million chocolate Kisses–every day. The largest and oldest chocolate company in the U.S. is Hershey’s. Hershey’s produces over one billion pounds of chocolate product annually.

The first chocolate chip cookie was invented in 1937 by Ruth Wakefield who ran the “Toll House Inn.” The term “Toll House” is now legally a generic word for chocolate chip cookie. It is the most popular cookie worldwide and is the official cookie of Massachusetts.

Red wine typically compliments chocolate the best (try it!) Champagne and sparkling wine are too acidic to go well with dark chocolate, but not so bad with white chocolate.

Reports predict that the global chocolate market will grow to over $100 billion from $83.2 billion in 2010.

German chocolate cake was named after Sam German, an American, and did not originate in Germany

Dark chocolate has been shown to be beneficial to human health, SEE I KNEW IT WAS A HEALTH FOOD!

The largest cuckoo clock made of chocolate can be found in Germany.

Research suggests that dark chocolate boosts memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem-solving skills by increasing blood flow to the brain. Studies have also found that dark chocolate can improve the ability to see in low-contrast situations (such as poor weather) and promote lower blood pressure, which has positive effects on cholesterol levels, platelet function, and insulin sensitivity.  AGAIN WITH ALL OF THESE HEALTH BENEFITS!

Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin (Montezuma II), the 9th emperor of the Aztecs, was one of the most wealthy and powerful men in the world. He was also known as The Chocolate King. At the height of his power, he had a stash of nearly a billion cacao beans.

The country whose people eat the most chocolate is Switzerland, with 22 pounds eaten per person each year. Australia and Ireland follow with 20 pounds and 19 pounds per person, respectively. The United States comes in at 11th place, with approximately 12 pounds of chocolate eaten by each person every year.

U.S. chocolate manufacturers use about 3.5 million pounds of whole milk every day to make milk chocolate.

Americans collectively eat 100 pounds of chocolate every second.

In 2008, Thorntons in London created the world’s largest box of chocolates at 16.5 feet tall and 11.5 feet wide. The box contained over 220,000 chocolates and weighed 4,805 pounds. Previously, the record was held by Marshall Field’s in Chicago with a box containing 90,090 Frango mint chocolates and weighing a whopping 3,326 pounds.

The most expensive chocolate in the world is the “Madeleine” and was created by Fritz Knipschildt of Knipschildt Chocolatier in Connecticut.

Belgium produces 172,000 tons of chocolate per year. Over 2,000 chocolate shops are found throughout the country, many located in Brussels where Godiva chocolate originated.

Owing to the nature of cacao butter, chocolate is the only edible substance that melts at around 93° F, just below body temperature. This means that after placing a piece of chocolate on your tongue, it will begin to melt.  Left in the car during the summer … well, you know!

In some parts of Latin America, the beans were used as a currency as late as the 19th century.

The first machine-made chocolate was produced in Barcelona, Spain, in 1780.

According to Italian researchers, women who eat chocolate regularly have a better sex life than those who do not. They also had higher levels of desire, arousal, and satisfaction from sex.

One chocolate chip can give a person enough energy to walk 150 feet. (This makes total sense to me – one package of Toll House cookies helps me run around the block!)

A Hershey’s bar was dug up after 60 years from Admiral Richard Byrd’s cache at the South Pole. Having been frozen all those years, it was still edible.

Chocolate melting in a person’s mouth can cause a more intense and longer-lasting “buzz” than kissing. Hershey’s Kisses were first produced in 1907 and were shaped like a square. A new machine in 1921 gave them their current shape.  Putting a Hershey’s kiss in your mouth, and then kissing, we’ll – buzz, buzz, buzz.

A lethal dose of chocolate for humans is about 22 pounds, which is about 40 Hershey bars.  (good tip, as I usually stop at about 35).





Waste is a big deal, everywhere. What are you going to do about it? No matter what your relationship is with waste, going as green as you can is just a pretty darn good idea.


One of my favorite weekends of the year is when two tv events come together – the Phoenix Open and the Super Bowl.  Now, I’m sure you’ve had enough about the Super Bowl (nice comeback), so I thought I’d focus my thoughts on the Open.  As a golf enthusiast, I LOVE watching this event – the weather is typically perfect, huge crowds, and the crazy antics of the 16th hole stadium “pit”.  The vent sponsor, The Thunderbirds – hosts of the Waste Management Phoenix Open – again broke another record eclipsing the $14 million mark for money raised from this year’s tournament, breaking the record of charitable dollars raised in a single year on tour and almost $100 million since 2010. The Thunderbirds, founded in 1937 with the mission of promoting the Valley of the Sun through sport, consist of 55 “active” members and more than 280 “life” members.  Seeing all the WM commercials, I got to thinking about waste in America, and hit the internet.  It’s simply amazing how much each of use produce.  Here’s some interesting facts, a few fun video’s and some great trivia. Special thanks to Waste Management and forbes.com for the fun info.  Enjoy!  And thanks to all who take the time to recycle and help make things just a bit cleaner.

– If you divide total trash by the population, the average American produces over 2000 pounds of trash per year.

– Collectively, out of the 254 million tons of trash Americans produce in one year, we recycle about 34.3 percent of it. That means, for the average individual, 710.6 pounds are recycled and 1,361.4 pounds of trash are tossed out every year — about the weight of an average grizzly bear.

– Breakdown of the average American:

•    90 pounds of tossed-out clothes and shoes

•    77 pounds of plastic bottles and jars

•    77 pounds of cardboard boxes

•    48 pounds of books

•    38 pounds of newspapers

•    28 pounds of aluminum beer and soda cans

•    25 pounds of office papers

•    22 pounds of paper plates or cups

– And of course, there’s much more. For instance, you might wonder how many pounds of food does the average American waste. The answer is a bit upsetting – each year, each person tosses out roughly 220.96 pounds of food waste. (Steve, finish your beans!)

– It may not seem all that astonishing on the surface, but with 323.7 million people living in the United States, that is roughly 728,000 tons of daily garbage – enough to fill 63,000 garbage trucks. That is 22 billion plastic bottles every year in the U.S.

– Waste Management has 346 strategically-located transfer stations to consolidate, compact and load waste from collection vehicles into long-haul trailers or rail cars for transport to landfills.

– According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. has 3,091 active landfills and over 10,000 old municipal landfills. Wow!

– On a worldwide scale, we humans produce approx. 2.6 trillion pounds of trash per year.  No country produces quite as much waste as America, but Russian isn’t far behind. Brazil, Japan, China, India, and Germany are all big wasters as well.

– It is estimated that as much as 91 percent of plastics aren’t recycled, which is a problem since many forms of plastic take between ten years and a few hundred years to degrade properly in sunlight, with many plastics not degrading because they’re hidden in landfills.

– In water bottles alone, 57.3 billion sold in 2014, up from 3.8 billion plastic water bottles sold in 1996, the earliest year for available data. (today It’s easily over 60 billion).

– The process of producing bottled water requires around 6 times as much water per bottle as there is in the container!

– Amazon alone ships an average of 608 million packages each year, which equates to (an estimated) 1,600,000 packages a day. That’s a lot of cardboard boxes, even when we consider some of the packaging used may be padded envelopes.  Assuming that 85% of this is physical shipped goods from Amazon itself, the rest is e-Books, Amazon Web Services, third-party-fulfilled products, Marketplace products, etc. That’s like ~$51 billion in shipments.

– So, when we apply the math – at peak, Amazon sold 306 items per second, which is about 26 million per day – equaling a whole bunch of padded envelopes, plastic bags and cardboard boxes.

– Now do some more math – if a box is about 8 square feet of cardboard, one tree can produce 151.6 boxes for our use.  (that’s about 171 thousand trees … just for that “free shipping you love so much!

– The average fast food restaurant generates 200,000 pounds of food waste per year (Statistic Brain, 2013). Multiply 200,000 pounds by 160,000 and that is 32 billion pounds of food waste generated in American fast food restaurants alone.

Alas, there are many ways each of us can cut down on our personal waste:

  • Bring reusable bags and containers when shopping, traveling or packing lunches or leftovers.
  • Choose products that are returnable, reusable or refillable over single-use items.
  • Avoid individually wrapped items, snack packs and single-serve containers. Buy large containers of items or from bulk bins whenever practical.
  • Do not buy or use plastic water bottles.  Use containers of your own.
  • Be aware of double-packaging — some “bulk packages” are just individually wrapped items packaged yet again and sold as a bulk item.
  • Purchase items such as dish soap and laundry detergents in concentrate forms.
  • Compost food scraps and yard waste. Food and yard waste accounts for about 11 percent of the garbage thrown away in metro areas. Many types of food scraps, along with leaves and yard trimmings, can be combined in your backyard compost bin.
  • Try to reduce the amount of unwanted mail you receive. The average resident in America receives over 30 pounds of junk mail per year.
  • Shop at second-hand stores. You can find great used and unused clothes at low cost to you and the environment. Buy quality clothing that won’t wear out and can be handed down to people you know or to a thrift store.
  • Buy items made of recycled content and reuse them as much as you can. Use both sides of every page of a notebook and use printed-on printer paper for a scratch pad.
  • Also, remember that buying in bulk rather than individual packages will save you lots of money and reduce waste. Packaging makes up 30 percent of the weight and 50 percent of trash by volume.
  • Buy juice, snacks and other lunch items in bulk and use the reusable containers each day.


Here are a couple of videos on the subject of garbage:
CLICK. This clip shows how household trash are recycled and processed.
CLICK. What a Waste 2.0: Everything You Should Know About Solid Waste Management