GMA’s Sawyer Slams the Appalling Consumption of Wasteful Americans

As part of ABC’s Earth Day "celebration," the Friday edition of "Good Morning America" featured another segment on just how wasteful Americans are. GMA anchor Diane Sawyer hosted a piece on the destruction Americans create simply by existing. The piece repeatedly hit the United States for producing so much trash. What follows is a sampling of some of Sawyer’s comments about her wasteful compatriots:

Diane Sawyer: "Well, think of Americans with all our waste."

Sawyer: "Toss in some other emblems of consumption, American style. Like all those cell phones in your life, TVs and computers and cars. "

Sawyer: "And let's be honest with each other about the way Americans squander water."

The ABC host began the piece, which aired at 7:44am on April 20, by setting up the concept. GMA would look at all the waste that the "Average American" creates in a lifetime:

Diane Sawyer: "So, for Earth Day, I love this idea. If you take all the land on Earth and divide it by all the people on Earth, each of us, personally, has four acres. Raising the question, what are we going to leave behind on our four acres of Earth? Well, think of Americans with all our waste. Plastic bags alone that can take 1,000 years to degrade and only 3 percent are recycled. So, we decided to do a kind of reality check on your garbage and mine. So, let's say this empty warehouse is my life on Earth and yours. Let's just start with plastic, which can take 1,000 years to go away. Every day, we casually hand each other plastic bottles of water, which can't be recycled, by the way. On average, we will use and toss 15,334 of them, each of us, in a lifetime. And that's not counting the other plastic things in our life, like the 18,306 shopping bags each of us uses in our lifetime. Plastic, we use for only 25 minutes, a bag, and then throw away."

Kevin O’Keefe (author, "The Average American") "Last year, the United States manufactured enough plastic, if you can believe this, to shrink wrap Texas."

Shortly thereafter, Sawyer blasted other "emblems of American consumption," including cars, computers and television:

Sawyer: "And I'm not just carpeting the Earth with my plastic. On average, we each run through 26,408 aluminum cans. Did you know that Americans throw away enough aluminum every three months to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet? And how about the 900 wire hangers for each of us, enough to wrap the Empire State Building top to bottom, twice. Me alone. Toss in some other emblems of consumption, American style. Like all those cell phones in your life, TVs and computers and cars."

How, exactly, are computers and cell phones emblems of American consumption? Do they not use them in other countries? Will Ms. Sawyer, seen here in the segment using her computer, offer to give up some of those things? Should Americans volunteer to stop watching ABC and "Good Morning America?"

Sawyer closed the report with a line reminiscent of the Vanessa Williams song "Color of the Wind" from Disney’s "Pocahontas." She wondered, "If you consider that each of us takes from the Earth and then leaves behind as our signature, if the planet could speak to us, what would it say?":

Sawyer: "And if that's some of what I'm leaving behind on the planet, what else am I taking? Let's talk trees. The average American rips off three feet of toilet paper in each visit to the bathroom. Stack up the rolls of toilet paper and those 2,025 rolls of paper towels you’ve seen and the average lifetime of newspapers, magazines, catalogs, phone books, and I alone, in my lifetime, will have chopped down 411 trees. Think what that means when all of us are doing it. And by the way, we didn't even include those 3,895 paper cups we each toss every year when it would be so simple to drink out of a reusable mug. And let's be honest with each other about the way Americans squander water. American bathrooms are considered the most water-wasting rooms on the planet, using twice as much, for instance, as the Germans do. And what if all of us simply showered one less minute a day, one minute, we would save enough water to supply Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles for two months. So, once again, imagine this warehouse as my life on the planet. I'm leaving behind 60 tons of garbage. Imagine how that would look from space. If you consider that each of us takes from the Earth and then leaves behind as our signature, if the planet could speak to us, what would it say?"

GMA co-host Robin Roberts: ‘My, it's, it’s good of you to step up to the plate, but we're all guilty. I mean, everybody’s watching going 'Oooh. I do, I do that."

Sawyer: "That's the average American."

Since it’s unlikely that the staff of "Good Morning America" will soon be cutting back on their use of computers and cell phones, perhaps when co-host Robin Roberts said, "We’re all guilty," she meant, "You’re all guilty."

It should also be noted that this is not the first time GMA has scolded viewers for their contribution to environmental problems.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org