How Much Is Enough?

Written by Alan Durning

The amount of resources our industry uses are almost unimaginable. The average U.S. citizen consumes about 25 pounds of basic materials a day (at least). "Daily consumption at these levels translates into global impacts that rank with the forces of nature. In 1990, mines scouring the crust of the Earth to supply the consumer class moved more soil and rock that did all the world's rivers combined. Since 1940, Americans alone have used up as large a share of the Earth's mineral resources as everyone before them combined."

The waste we generate is also astonishing. The average U.S. citizen produces 3/4 ton of garbage annually. According to the Worldwatch Institute, four cents of every dollar Americans spend o­n goods goes to packaging. In industrial countries, packaging makes up close to half the volume of municipal solid waste. About 200 billion bottles, cans, plastic cartons, and paper and plastic cups are made and thrown away yearly.

Alan Durning, cited in Kenny Ausubel, The Bioneers, p.178.

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