Consuming Issues

‘Tis the season for noting Americans’ behaviors, habits and peccadilloes.

The Census Bureau has just issued its 2007 Statistical Abstract. Divorces are down – likely due to fewer marriages than truer love, we now drink more bottled water than bottled beer, and more of us are injured by wheelchairs than lawnmowers (though it would appear that DWI is a diminishing factor in such accidents).

Americans are getting taller – 90% of us are over 5’6” – and fatter: our consumption of high fructose corn syrup has doubled in the past 25 years. Perhaps consequently, square footage of new homes in the US has increased by more than 15% in the past fifteen years. And thanks in part to all those soda cans and candy wrappers, we create 20% more solid waste today than we did in 1980. Sasquatch leaves a smaller footprint than we do.

But media consumption may have emerged as the most significant lifestyle factor. On average, Joe Sixpack (who now goes by Josef Evian, btw) spends more than eight and a half hours a day watching TV, cruising the Internet (count yourself among this cult), or listening to the radio. And you wonder why nature-deficit disorder is headed toward epidemic status?

Here’s an idea that will get America outside, fit, and – in a way – recycling. Load the new mix of old Beatles songs (the remarkably inventive and remastered “Love”) on your iPod and hike on out to a nearby park. Just be careful of speeding wheelchairs.