Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Baseline Weigh-In

Since our garbage truck comes on a Friday, I decided to weigh what we had in our trash can (Oh sod it I'm going to use the word bin. I'm a Brit so I'm going to write like one, the Americans will just have to learn that there are better words than the ones they choose!)

Anyway, I decided to find our how much rubbish was in the bin, from the last two weeks. I could have said fortnight but that would have had the Americans really scratching their heads.

But I digress. The pictures above show that for the last two weeks we've generated 2lb and 8oz of rubbish. This does not count towards our total, since Earth Day starts today, but it shows that I think we can confidently pull this off!

Notice we're re-using the plastic bag from Walgreens as our rubbish bag. We'll no doubt end up using the bio-degradable ones soon. It's a dilemma I am wondering about. Is it better to use plastic grocery bags as rubbish bin liners, take them to be re-cycled at a store such as Target or Whole Foods, or burn them?

Sure burning them releases CO2 and some toxins into the air, but is it more CO2 and pollutants than the truck that comes to take the recycled bags away from Target? That truck is going to be belching out CO2 and using fuel to deliver the bags to a processing plant which then uses more energy to get the bags ready for re-cycling.

And here's a myth buster. What happens to those bags? We all take the moral high ground and say, "We're really earth conscious and take our bags to be re-cycled". But what are they re-cycled into?

The good folks from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation had an interesting thing to say about this when they visited SLAC and gave a seminar.

They had visited one of the biggest recycling plants in the Bay Area over in Marin. There they saw pallets and pallets are plastic grocery bags. They asked what was going to happen to them.

"We ship them to China" was the reply.
"And then what happens?"
"No idea."

That's the trouble with plastic, it's rarely re-cycled back into what is was to start with unlike glass or aluminium. And why ship our plastic bags half way around the world?

So, bottom line, no more plastic bags... OKAY?

And if you have any ideas on what is the best option to do with the bags we already have I'd love to know.

No comments:

Post a Comment