Tag Archives: eco

Recycling Dilemma

The trouble with multi material packaging.

Where I live the council supplies six refuse containers to each household. There are two bins, two boxes and two bags, each for a different purpose and five of the six are for recyclable waste. Each household has to sort their waste into the appropriate container. So far fine.

Paper, glass and metal in one box, food waste in another. Cardboard in one bag, recyclable plastic in the other. Garden waste in the green bin and everything else in the grey. But what about the rubbish that is not a single material? Most commonly, but not exclusively, is food packaging with plastic windows and window envelopes; paper with see a through panel for the address.

We are supposed to separate the materials, i.e. remove the plastic windows from the cardboard boxes and envelopes. It’s not always easy to separate. If it is particularly hard separating materials in some packaging, I resort to discarding the item into the grey bin, as non recyclable rubbish.

Why is the onus entirely on the public to separate the materials? Why can’t the manufacturers standardise their packaging so that one package/packet has only one material?

Modern printers can print envelopes without windows so why do envelopes need plastic panels?

Boxes can be printed with pictures of their contents, doing away the need for a plastic window.

Printing on plastic is possible now, doing away with the need for a paper label.

Isn’t it time manufacturers/producers helped the consumer streamline recycling?

All these can reduce the waste going to landfill but there is a better way. There are many products that do not need packaging at all, it is there as a marketing aid with no other practical reason. Where possible, do away with packaging completely.


A New Heaven And a New Earth

Are they one and the same?

In The Bible’s book of Genesis, humankind are given “dominion” over the plantet upon which we live. At the end of The Bible, in Revelation, we are told of “a new heaven and a new earth”, which are also the final words of the book Unveiling a Parallel. which I reviewed here, that inspired this post.

At the end of the Unveiling a Parallel story, the unnamed traveller to the planet Mars saw in the society of that planet what could be a different way of living for the humanity of this Earth. He came to appreciate how the people of Mars lived an idyll; a new heaven. Or, what could be heaven like if Earth’s humanity could learn to live peacefully together.

Earth’s humanity has taken “dominion” as giving ourselves the right to exploit the planet, usually for profit. We have forgotten that dominion also confers responsibility to respect and protect, to manage and steward Earth’s resources in a way that does not harm the planet. We have ignored these inconvenient aspects of dominion.

Humankind has taken oil and coal, metals and minerals from planet Earth with little regard to the consequences. We have poisoned great tracts with chemicals and pumped greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. We have cut down great swathes of the trees that make the oxygen we breathe. Ee face global warming and an uncertain future, largely due to our quest for profit, which ignores the inconvenient truths.

What if, taking Revelation as as a illustration, a new parable maybe, the new heaven and new earth were one and the same?

The traveller to Mars sees a society, and a way of living, that he perceives as a potential heaven on Earth, if only we people of planet Earth could overcome our petty squabbles, wars, injustice, violence and exploitation of the the Earth’s resources for profit.

What might be our new heaven and new earth? Could the new heaven and new earth be one and the same? We are, albeit slowly, beginning to realise the harm we are are doing to our planet. The only planet we know that can support human life.

Could it be that if we fully realise the extent of our destruction of the planet, it is not too late to do something about it?

It took millions of years for planet Earth to evolve to a human habitable environment. It took only a few hundred to strip it and damage it, to its present state. As with everything, damage to the planet was inflicted much, much faster than its evolution and our ability to repair that damage.

But suppose for a moment we do repair the damage. It will probably take generations; thousands of years to return it to the state it took hundreds to bring to its current state. If all the people of the planet started tomorrow to repair the damage, it would take generations to repair and recover but at the end of it all, our descendants could once again live on a clean, fecund planet. Perhaps a new Heaven and a new Earth.

Sustainable Fashion

Is it a contradiction in terms?

Everyone has probably read or seen something about sustainability in relation to using up our natural resources. For example wood might come from sustainably managed forrest. Fish might be caught from sustainable populations. I recently heard the term “sustainable fashion” which made me wonder if there is really any such thing.

A dictionary definition of fashion is “a popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration” etc. there are lots of definitions that might have different words but mean the same thing.  The key word in the definition in this context is “latest”, because latest is constantly changing. Nothing is ever the ultimate, it will be replaced, upgraded, redesigned in an ever shortening product cycle.

I know little about fashion but I know that most fashion labels, at least the major ones, have main releases of new clothes annually, sometimes supplemented with smaller releases or special individual products more often. For the sake of argument, I will assume annual.

With only a few exceptions, like manual labourers, in the prosperous western nations clothes do not wear out annually in a 12 month period. Frequently they are not worn out when they are discarded. A few find their way to charity stores, to be re-used. A significant number are just disposed of.

The product release cycle of new styles, all of which meet the same basic criteria and function, is usually much shorter than the time it takes to wear out a, not very expensive, set of clothing.

If new products are released and bought, or existing clothing replaced before it is worn out, can we really call it ‘sustainable fashion’?