The U.S. throws out enough plastic every 16 hours to fill the Cowboys football stadium, and that amount is increasing. Our society continually produces goods designed to be used once or temporarily and then thrown away. Most discarded materials are then landfilled or incinerated, creating pollution and requiring producers to extract more natural resources to make new materials.
This waste is by design. Producers have the ability to make products that are more durable and more easily fixed when they break, as well as packaging that is less wasteful and more readily reused or recycled. They simply choose not to. The reason is clear: As long as individuals, governments, our environment and future generations – not producers – bear the costs of our throwaway society, those who design and make the products we buy have no incentive to change.
Clean energy is sweeping across America and is poised for more dramatic growth in the coming years.
Wind and solar energy were just beginning to take off ten years ago; today, they are everyday parts of America’s energy landscape. America produces almost four times as much renewable electricity from the sun and wind as it did in 2010. Today, wind, solar and geothermal power provide nearly 10% of our nation’s electricity.
Solar power is expanding rapidly. The United States now has 77.7 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed – more than enough to power one in every 10 homes in America. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have invested in solar energy and millions more are ready to join them.
America’s major cities have played a key role in the clean energy revolution and stand to reap tremendous benefits from solar energy. As population centers, they are major sources of electricity demand and, with millions of rooftops suitable for solar panels, they have the potential to be major sources of clean energy production as well.
PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.