All the Plastic Ever Produced, Visualized

iStock
iStock

Humanity has a plastic problem. The cheap, durable material has become a vital part of our vehicles, food packaging, and even the inner structures of our homes. We’ve already produced 8.3 billion metric tons of the stuff, and most of it is sitting in landfills where it could take centuries to break down.

In early 2017, a study published in the journal Science Advances highlighted the literal weight of this growing issue. Researchers calculated that the bulk of all the plastic that’s been made by humans is equivalent to that of 25,000 Empire State Buildings or 80 million blue whales. Of that, only 9 percent has been recycled. The amount of plastic waste currently trashing our planet adds up to 6.3 billion metric tons, and the researchers don’t see our plastic addiction getting any less severe in the near future. By 2050, the plastic in our landfills is expected to hit 12 billion metric tons. You can see more alarming statistics from the study in the infographic below.

Infographic showing plastic production statistics.
University of Georgia, Janet A Beckley

Of all the trash we produce, plastic is some of the toughest to get rid of [PDF]. Scientists are looking into solutions, such as plastic-chomping caterpillars and germs, but for now consumers can do the planet a favor by investing in more reusable goods.

The 20 Best States to Retire in 2020

Robert Clay Reed/iStock via Getty Images
Robert Clay Reed/iStock via Getty Images

Spending your workdays dreaming of retirement? It’s the ultimate goal of any longtime office-dweller, but figuring out when you’re ready to finally take the plunge is one of many questions aspiring retirees need to ask themselves before quitting the 9-to-5 grind for good. Determining where to retire is equally important, as you’ll need to think not just about affordability, but quality of life and health care as well.

Personal finance website WalletHub crunched the numbers on all 50 states to come up with an official ranking on the best (and worst) states to retire. Their experts looked at 47 different factors and enlisted the help of a panel of experts.

Ultimately, it turns out that the idea of retiring to Florida is still very much alive. The Sunshine State took the top spot in the poll, largely because of its affordability (it came in second in that category overall, with only Alabama besting it). But spending your golden years on a beach somewhere doesn’t seem to be for everyone; while Colorado and New Hampshire certainly have their warm-weather seasons, they also accumulate plenty of snow each year—which didn’t seem to matter as they clinched the second and third positions on the list, respectively. Here are the 20 best states to retire:

  1. Florida
  2. Colorado
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Utah
  5. Wyoming
  6. Delaware
  7. Virginia
  8. Wisconsin
  9. Idaho
  10. Iowa
  11. South Dakota
  12. Montana
  13. Pennsylvania
  14. Massachusetts
  15. Ohio
  16. Minnesota
  17. Texas
  18. South Carolina
  19. North Dakota
  20. Missouri

The news was far less happy for Kentucky, which claimed the last spot on the list (followed closely by New Mexico, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and West Virginia).

You can view an interactive version of the map below, and visit WalletHub to see more detailed information on each state’s ranking.

Source: WalletHub

Handy Chart Tells You When It's Too Cold to Walk Your Dog

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iStock

Dogs have built-in fur coats, but they still get cold during their winter walks. Even if Fido isn’t hiding whenever you pull out the leash, you should still determine your dog’s tolerance for snowy romps, judging from this infographic spotted by Lifehacker, which is based on factors like size and breed (and not just enthusiasm for eating snow).

Infographic of the Tufts Animal Condition and Care (TACC) system, created by  Dr. Kim Smyth, a staff veterinarian with pet insurance company Petplan,
Petplan

Created by Dr. Kim Smyth, a staff veterinarian with pet insurance company Petplan, the chart is modeled after a scale developed by Tufts University that determines how canines respond to weather conditions depending on their builds. Before taking your four-legged friend outside, always check the temperature first (including wind chill), then reference the chart to gauge whether your dog can safely withstand the elements.

Small- to medium-sized dogs face cold-weather risks like hypothermia and frostbite when temperatures dip to 40°F. Larger dogs can tough it out for a little longer, but all pet owners should exercise caution and keep walks brief once the thermometer reaches 30°F. Canine accessories like sweaters or booties can safely prolong emergency bathroom strolls. Tiny pet shoes also protect vulnerable paws from sidewalk chemicals like antifreeze, according to NPR.

That said, no two canines—nor their fluff—are exactly alike. Dogs who are conditioned for the cold, or ones with heavy coats, fare better than older dogs or those with health conditions. Tiny, short-haired dogs may struggle too. Shivering is the first sign of hypothermia, Smyth told WBUR in an interview, so if you see your pups trembling, "you want to get these dogs inside, wrap them up in a warm towel or blanket, and get them to the vet if you need to," she says.

[h/t Lifehacker]

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