Americans throw a lot of trash away -- about 4.4 pounds per person every day. But the National Security Agency has a simple solution for our planet-killing ways: scare us into submission.
The agency rolled out a new Earth Day mascot named "Dunk" this week. The living recycling bin looks a little like a blue Spongebob Squarepants with traumatized eyes, and it's been called "creepy," "disturbing" and "terrifying." Here's what he looks like:
Despite the mascot's look somewhat unusual look, the NSA actually had a good reason to create Dunk. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that around 75 percent of all waste is recyclable, but less than a third is actually recycled. States like Florida have taken this pathetic statistic to heart, pledging to recycle or compost three-fourths of all trash by 2020, but others are lagging behind. In 2012, the latest year measured by the EPA, Americans generated about 251 million tons of solid waste.
The NSA partnered with Maryland schools ahead of Earth Day to encourage STEM programs to cut down on their waste. An eight-minute video about the NSA's recycling efforts asks students to perform a trash audit in their classrooms, and cites a 25-year-old program at the agency that helps send more than 13 million pounds of garbage to recycling facilities every year. Maryland's recycling rates have hovered around 45 percent for the past few years.
“When you see firsthand the trash that is generated in your school, we hope you’ll become more interested in reducing waste both at school and at home,” Dunk says in the video.
So you may be a little terrified, but use that fear to help the planet.