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Scrap Tires

I'm a bit of a treehugger.  I try not to go into flaming environmental rage, but I make a conscience effort to do little things in my company and personal life to be a little greener.  The sheer magnitude of damage we create as humans makes saving the Earth a bit of an overwhelming task.

But it helps to put in perspective how waste adds up over time.  For example, below is a picture of tires.  Luckily these tires are being kept at a recycling center in Germany ready to be ground into bits and mixed into concrete.  The Europeans have done a better job than us when it comes to re-using waste.  These tires will be material for road asphalt and construction materials someday.

It's not a perfect solution.  Burning them destroys the rubber, but damages the air.  Re-using them keeps them out of landfills temporarily, but eventually everything ends up in the trash.  Until we figure out how to make tires out of bamboo or hemp, they will continue in some form for a thousand years or so.

The first picture is a lot of tires.  The first picture is more tires than my cars will use in my lifetime.  Four new tires every five years, means I'll probably use 50 in my lifetime.

The first picture, I counted, and got somewhere above 200. There are more tires under the pile.  Perhaps another 200.  Perhaps another 400.  In the first picture, a few hundred tires is perhaps ten lifetimes worth.  Ten people, living 80 years each.  This first picture could have 800 years worth of tires, and that might be conservative.

Now, look at the second picture.   Look at the little white box.  That little white box is what I sampled in the first picture.  There are approximately 70 times the number of tires in the first picture.

Again, conservatively, 56,000 years worth of tires in one pile.  One pile at one plant.   One plant in Germany, a country that loves automobiles almost as much as Americans.

So next time you try to do something small, just remember, all those small acts of re-using, recycling, and reducing (especially reducing) can really add up. We all need to do a little better.  We all need to do a lot better.

I want to say thanks to aerial photographer, Klaus Leidorf, for permission to use one of his brilliant photos. Here's the original high res photo from his Flickr page.The photo is truly humbling.


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