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.

This Pop Culture Guide to Proofreading Marks Will Help You Write the Perfect Essay

Pop Culture Lab
Pop Culture Lab

Regardless of your profession, proofreading is an important skill to know. A round of revisions will help you express yourself more clearly and eloquently, and penning a perfectly punctuated letter is an underrated art form. Proofreading marks will help you edit more efficiently, but navigating all those squiggles and dots can feel like learning a foreign language.

Here to help is Pop Chart Labs, which used pop culture references to create a fun guide to proofreading marks. As for the Oxford comma—whose use is hotly debated among punctuation purists—the chart makers rule in favor of it. “The movies Kill Bill, While You Were Sleeping, and 28 Days Later are all punctuated by important comas,” the comma section of the poster reads.

The chart
Pop Chart Lab

“I’m Ron Burgundy?” (an Anchorman reference) falls under the question mark category, and “Nobody puts baby in a corner” (Dirty Dancing) is given as an example of text centering.

“Let Beyonce teach you about flushing left (to the left), Italian stereotypes from The Simpsons illustrate ital-ics, Michael Scott portray the pain of having your edits and/or vasectomies reversed, and all too many Game of Thrones characters demonstrate deletion (warning: SPOILERS),” Pop Chart Lab writes in its description of the poster.

With this chart on your wall, you’ll never miss the mark. The 18-inch-by-24-inch poster costs $29 and is currently available for pre-order on Pop Chart Lab's website. Shipping starts October 3.

Start Planning for Fall Now With This Interactive Foliage Map

While summer doesn't officially end until September 22, it’s never too early to get excited for fall foliage season. To see when the leaves outside your window will be at their most brilliant, check out this map for the 2018 season from SmokyMountains.com.

The tourism website puts together this annual interactive visual by pulling historical weather data and forecasts for the upcoming months from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as well as historical leaf peak trends. By using the slider at the bottom of the map, you can see when fall foliage is expected to peak across the contiguous United States.

As of September 10, for example, most of the country was rendered in green, which meant the leaves had not started to change yet. Move just a week or two ahead into mid-September, however, and the northern and central states show up with blotches of fall colors, with the lightest shade of yellow indicating minimal leaf change and deep red signaling peak foliage. By early November, most of the U.S. is brown, which means the leaves have passed their peak.

While the leaves of deciduous trees start to change hues at roughly the same time each year, the exact patterns vary based on factors like rain and temperature.

"Although simply entering rainfall, temperature data, elevations, and other data points into a model will never be 100 percent accurate, this combined with our proprietary, historical data drives our model to become more accurate each year," says SmokyMountains.com co-founder and CTO Wes Melton, who created the map.

Now that you know when exactly the trees will hit their peak, you need to make sure you’re around to see them. Here are some of the best spots in the U.S. to take in the seasonal show.

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