3Your Lawn Hogs Our Freshwater Supplies
If we asked you what the largest irrigated crop in all of America was, you'd probably answer "corn," "potatoes" or (most likely) "Get the hell out of my house, you clipboard-wielding maniac." But the real answer sits right in front of your house, all green and lush and unassuming.
"This water is nice, but I was thinking something more like your souls."
The Horrible Downside:
Lawns occupy about 50,000 square miles of U.S. turf, which is three times the space taken by corn. Maintaining them costs us roughly 200 gallons of water per person daily. Nationwide, keeping grass green sucks up 50 to 70 percent of our residential water. In dry states like Texas, the percentage can occasionally reach 80 percent.
"The stars at night, are blotted out by wildfires, deep in the heart of Texas!"
Now, "residential water" tends to equal "water that humans can drink." This means that, every day, our lawns are busy shotgunning our precious freshwater supplies into their gaping, bottomless maws.
And we're very, very close to running out.
Each day, New Mexico and Arizona use 300 million gallons more than they can renew. The Southwest largely relies on underground aquifers that can't be replenished, and also we have no idea how much water they have. If they run out, the whole damn continent will get to live out the villain's plot from Quantum of Solace.
"Sure, we could measure it. But then the aquifer wins."
Actually, scratch the "if." It's happening already. The underground river in Arkansas (the one that makes rice growing possible) will be dry in five years. The San Francisco Bay Area is headed for a severe water crisis within the next 50 years. Even Seattle and Chicago, cities that are notorious for constant rain and neighboring the goddamn Great Lakes, respectively, will face shortages within 20 years.
It was a great lake. And when it's dry, it'll be an even greater skate park.
And that's downright peachy compared to what our readers under the Mason-Dixon can look forward to: The entire South is estimated to be locked in a permanent state of drought by 2050.
So while those of us with shiny green lawns have a few more years of regular watering left, we might be better off hoarding our precious sprinkler fuel for the inevitable Water Wars.
Mel Gibson not included.
2Your Toilet Paper Murders Rain Forests (For No Reason)
We think (and also hope) it's safe to say that pretty much everyone reading this wipes their asses on a regular basis. Hell, even Zooey Deschanel probably gets the occasional attack of taco poops. It's just life -- shit happens, and toilet paper is what happens next.
Above: The 2012 spokeswoman for Taco Cabana and Charmin Ultra.
The Horrible Downside:
Do you use nonrecycled toilet paper? Maybe a brand made from virgin wood? Well, that makes you almost as bad for the environment as every Hummer-driving frat boy spending his trust fund money on extra-leaded gasoline.
No, sorry, we're telling a lie. Your taste in toilet paper actually means you have a much bigger impact on global warming than Captain Hummerjock.
"I need the extra space for all the dead baby seals I have to haul."
Delicate American bottoms prefer plush, bleached white, multi-ply paper with all the toppings. We also use three times as much paper per person as, say, Europeans. In fact, the 36 billion rolls our nation goes through every year is 27 percent of the world's total TP wood harvest.
The thing is, only 2 percent of the toilet paper used in the U.S. is made from recycled wood. For the rest, Big Buttwipe does use manageable, Earth-friendly tree farms whenever they can. However, these can only meet about 25 to 50 percent of the quota set by our needy, needy butts. The rest comes from irreplaceable North American virgin forests. You know, the same forests we rely on to trap greenhouse gases and act as heat sinks, so we can keep the pace of global warming down to a light sprint.
"Well, this is breathtaking and priceless. Let's turn it into ass wipes."
Sure, there are options. We could just use water to clean ourselves, like 75 percent of the world's population. Sadly, this is such an alien idea to us that even usually media-invincible Will Smith got sideways glances when he bought a paper-free bidet toilet. Increasing the volume of toilet paper made from recycled cellulose doesn't work, either. They've tried. We just won't buy it, even though we'd save 425,000 trees per year if every household in the country would replace a single roll of triple-layered Charmin with a recycled alternative.
But it's brown and scratchy and we, as a nation, are huge wussies.