Whenever there is a severe storm like a hurricane or blizzard, and we’re left without power for hours or even days, I get to thinking about some of the things we take for granted. Here is a short list of everyday things that we hardly ever think about, from A to Z. Enjoy!
Air: The air we breathe is composed of roughly 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and a smattering of other gases. Any other percentage mix and we couldn’t live.
Breakfast: Approximately 31 million Americans skip breakfast every day. No wonder we need lunch.
Concrete: The most widely used material in the world, over two billion tons are produced each year. Invented by the Romans.
Dirt: It only covers 10% of the earth’s surface, yet it provides 100% of the world’s food. Remember the great Dust Bowl? Me neither!
Electricity: The average US home consumes 10,837 kilowatthours per year (probably 50% of it wasted).
Food: The average American eats approximately 2,175 pounds per year (by contrast, in the Belgian Congo it’s only 917 pounds per year). Obesity is on the rise!
Gasoline: Last year, the world consumed over 120 billion gallons of petroleum based gasoline (Yikes!).
Hair: Nearly 30% of men are bald by age 30, and more than 73.5% are bald over the age of 80. If you’re not one of them, consider yourself lucky.
Ink: Inkjet printers worldwide use enough ink to fill 4.5 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Another waste of resources.
Junk Mail: The average person in the US receives about 560 pieces per year, which amounts to a staggering 4.5 million tons, of which 44% goes straight to the landfill unopened (and printed with all that ink).
Kitchens: Believe it or not, the average woman spends 1,117 days over her lifetime in the kitchen (in the UK, men actually spend more time there than women).
Lettuce: The US produced nearly $2 billion worth in 2013 (nearly 18 pounds for every man, woman and child). Salad anyone?
Meat: The average American eats nearly 200 pounds of meat per year (red meat, poultry, and fish) and has a higher cholesterol count than almost anyone else in the world.
Nickels: Presently, there are 841,720,000 nickels in circulation, worth $42,086,000.
Onions: Hard to believe, but the onion represents the third largest vegetable industry in the US, with a per capita consumption of approximately 20 pounds (don’t breathe a word of it to your friends).
Peanut Butter: Who hasn’t eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? It takes 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of the stuff, and the average American child will eat 1,500 PBJs before high school graduation.
Quartz: It’s the second most abundant mineral in the earth’s crust, and without it, most of us couldn’t tell time (and what about all those gorgeous countertops we wouldn’t have?).
Roads: There are over 4,000,000 miles of roads in the US alone, and nearly 12,000,000 miles worldwide. (Did you ever stop to consider that they are all somehow connected?)
Salt: Besides being essential to human life, the word salt is the basis for the word salary, because in Roman times salt was so precious that it was used as cash. Try paying your electric bill with salt.
Time: There are 526,176 minutes in a year, totalling over 40 million minutes in the average lifetime (and that’s only if you live until 76).
Underwear: The global underwear busines is estimated at over 30 billion dollars per year. Imagine a world without lingerie?
Vacuum Cleaners: Vacuuming is the single-most effective and economical means of keeping floor coverings clean and removing dust and allergens from the indoor environment. It has been proven that 90% of all dry soil by weight can be removed from carpet by routine vacuuming.
Water: Without a doubt, the thing we take the most for granted. Put simply, without it, life as we know it would not exist (and ships couldn’t float).
X-ray machines: Without them, most modern medical treatment would not be possible. No dentistry, no artificial joints, etc., but the check-in lines at airports would be shorter and faster.
Yogurt: The average American eats nearly 15 pounds per year (my wife eats that much in a day).
Zinc: This trace mineral plays a vital role in fertility. In males, zinc protects the prostate gland from infection (prostatitis) and ultimately from enlargement (prostatic hypertrophy). Zinc helps maintain sperm count and mobility and normal levels of serum testosterone.
Got a list of your own? Add some fun trivia in the comments section.
NOTE: Joe Perrone Jr is the author of the highly-successful Matt Davis Mystery Series: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day (a 2012 Indie B.R.A.G. medallion winner), Twice Bitten, and Broken Promises. All four are available in paperback and E-book from Amazon.com. As the Twig is Bent and Opening Day are also in audiobook from Audible.com, with Twice Bitten and Broken Promises currently in production. If humor is your cup of tea, consider Joe’s rip-roaring, coming-of-age novel, Escaping Innocence: A Story of Awakening, set in the tumultuous Sixties. It, too, is available in print, E-book, and audio book editions.
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