Thursday, 29 May 2008

Ten green bottles?

And if one green bottle should accidentally fall?
Imagine that each of us throws away a plastic bottle once a week...

Here in Sweden that would be around 9 million bottles a week, or 450 million bottles a year. In the USA it's a little over 300million a week ... or in a year around 15 billion bottles. Which is interesting as in 2006 Americans threw away around 22 billion plastic bottles...

You do only throw away one bottle every week don't you????

While you're imagining where all those bottles went to, some food for thought...
In the US around 30% of plastic bottles, and 45% of soda and beer cans got recycled in 2006. Hurrah!!!

...while here in Sweden over 80% of bottles and 85% of cans (a total of 1.4 billion - three a week each) were recycled

That there's such a difference could be because Sweden runs a mandatory deposit scheme for most bottles and cans. When you buy you pay a little extra and you only get it back when you take the empties back.

I don't buy a lot of bottled drinks and I have to say it's a pain storing things to take back to the shop - particularly cans as they have to remain round to go through the machine that reads the bar code - but you have to admit it seems to work. :-)

The bit I particularly like about the system is the 'biståndsknappen'. When you've stood in the shop and stuffed all your bottles through the hole in the wall you get a receipt you can redeem at the till.. or, if you press the button, it all goes to charity.

Drastic Plastic

I recently discovered an interesting blog called Life Less Plastic.. which is all about trying to cut out plastics from our daily life. While I have no plans to try to be completely plastics free, I wholeheartedly believe in cutting down unnecessary use of plastics and it prompted me to be more aware of the plastic that crops up in my daily life...

So, for the record, I have recently bought...

  • A new bit for my drill - hung on a thick plastic label
  • A new (Ikea) roller blind packed in a plastic tube
  • Screws and rawlplugs - in plastic bags
  • Linseed oil for my table - in a plastic bottle
  • A screwdriver - with a plastic handle.
  • olives in plastic pots
  • bread in plastic bags
  • plastic wrapped cake
  • and even croissants - in a paper bag.. (with a plastic window)

..and my recycling waste regularly includes:

  • plastic pourers from fruit juice cartons
  • soft drinks bottles
  • disposable razors
  • & yoghurt cartons

and occasionally - ice cream pots & wine box pourers.

You know the sort of stuff...

So? What about it?

Well... I will

  • be more observant in the future and make packaging part of my buying choice...
  • when I buy things in plastic packagingI'll choose packaging I'm likely to re-use. Resealable boxes for my dry goods for instance.
  • Make sure that plastics go for recycling (they do already)
  • Look out for an alternative shaving solution
  • Look for a farm produce outlet locally
  • Shop at the food hall where things are not pre-packaged.
  • Keep using the (plastic) things I've got.

But... Plastics are an important class of materials and get used all over - in cars, aircraft, electrical goods and medical equipment.. and a myriad other places. Plastics can do things that other materials have a hard time matching.. and are mostly based on chemicals derived from oil. By comparison to making plastics, burning oil (petrol) for fuel is just short sighted profligacy. So, if you're thinking of cutting back on using plastics to 'save the environment' make sure you have your priorities right.

Which means I'm going to keep walking round the corner to the shop and choosing the best they have to offer.. unless I find something better in cycling distance (whch is tricky right now).

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

You take the high road...

.. and I'll take the low road.

My life and my beliefs and values don't always seem to go hand in hand, which is a pity really because living life according to your principles seems to be fundamental to a harmonious life. I keep thinking that maybe it's something I should do something about.

I have other blogs that talk about things that go on in my life. This blog is for the why, and for the things that otherwise might find their way into a letter.. (which you probably would never see) - on thoughts, motives, beliefs and values - with probably quite a lot of waffle in between.

One of the main themes will be green living.. sustainable living. Call it what you will - and inevitably some commentary on how the rest of humanity organises it's life. Writing helps me think.

Just why am I putting my thoughts down in print? I was wondering that myself, but reasons are tricky things. When I find one, like the skins on an onion, I just find another one behind. But let's pick just one...

"If a tree falls in a forest and no-one hears it, does it make a sound?"