How Green Is The State Of The Union?

Obama in front of solar power panel array. During President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech, he mentioned that “every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2009.”

For many people this was a bit of a surprise. However, according to Stephen Ashkin, President of The Ashkin Group, Americans also may be surprised at just how far the United States has come regarding green and sustainability issues.

Among the advances Ashkin notes are the following:

  • Today in the United States, more than 17,500 megawatts of cumulative solar electricity are operating, enough to power more than 3.5 million average American homes (one megawatt is equal to one million watts of electricity).
  • The number of hybrid cars in the United States now totals more than 2.1 million; in 2003, there were fewer than 50,000 hybrid cars in the country.
  • The number of cars in the U.S. that get gas mileage of greater than 30 miles per gallon has more than tripled since 2009.
  • Americans generate more than 251 million tons of trash annually. Today, 35% of that trash is recycled; in 1980, less than 10% was recycled.
  • Since 1990, the total amount of solid municipal waste going into landfills has been reduced by more than 11 million tons even though the U.S. population has increased by 70 million people.
  • Forty-four million tons of paper and paperboard were recycled in 2012, which includes 70% of all newspapers sold in the country as well as 91% of all corrugated paper.
  • The number of states that either recommend or require green cleaning in public schools stands at 16; there were none before 2005.

“No one questions that in many areas, for instance addressing climate change, we still have a long way to go,” says Ashkin. “However, we also must recognize and be proud of all we have already accomplished.”