The Mindset of Waste

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mrjemm
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The Mindset of Waste

Postby mrjemm » 13 Sep 2013, 3:21am

A post by Horizon in the Never Done thread got me thinking about a topic that is often on my mind.

At the locations I work in there are usually water filters or coolers, but strangely, where I am at the moment, there is also a free supply of bottled water (a client request apparently!). I am sure you can guess which is more usually taken.

Likewise, 'paper' cups and plastic spoons & lids are the order of the day.

I am not a purist, and occasionally will buy a bottle of water, usually when travelling; at the airport, after security, on a train, or at a motorway services. Also if desperate for a coffee while on the go I'd use a vending machine or Costa take-out, which of course would ordinarily come in a 'paper' cup.

But, why would you choose to use disposable? I always take an insulated cup and a water bottle on a job, as do many. Many work-sites even supply them, and some do get used. But the vast majority of colleagues use throw-aways.

It really can't be convenience- the water dispenser is in the office, while the water bottles are upstairs (in this case).

It can't be any better for your enjoyment- many cups have handles, insulation and large volume, which the 'paper' ones don't.

It can't be labour saving; well, I for one would rather wash my cup/bottle than empty the bin that fills rapidly.

This actually reminds me of one of the world's worst environmental issues- deforestation. It's not only palm oil and big macs causing this, but a long time major player is disposable chopsticks.

http://goasia.about.com/b/2013/08/27/ch ... -trees.htm (1st relevant link that came up).

I read somewhere recently that there's a campaign to counter this with an effort to encourage use of re-usable ones. Apart from anything else, these are usually bamboo, which grows super fast (hence the torture) and thus even the production of them initially is already an improvement.

Sadly, I believe India, which always had a rather better type of disposable- the terracotta (read mud) chai cup is moving to it's nasty modern counterpart.

I've seen that some forward thinking places are starting to encourage better practice in this matter- in Norway (IIRC) the service stations sold a metal cup with a particular design that was specific to that year, and with it, you could go in any one of their branches and fill it up for free (or cheaply?). Even in the US, it is apparently quite widespread to have a branded cup that the coffee shops will fill happily, possibly for less than with a disposable. Brands like PDW do holders for these cups even- https://www.ridepdw.com/goods/cargo/bar-ista (Ooops, just seen on the ad, there's a pic of it with a grrrr paper cup.).

Why are we so stuck in the dark ages that we have to create so much waste?

Waste I understand. But so blooming much?

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meic
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Re: The Mindset of Waste

Postby meic » 13 Sep 2013, 7:32am

There is no excuse for disposable chopsticks.

http://www.alpkit.com/shop/cart.php?tar ... ory_id=253

Though I wonder which is worse, disposable natural materials or reused high-energy-input, manufactured goods?

In Indonesia I sometimes got given food in disposable containers, those containers were leaves (banana, I think).

I used to use SodaStream to make my own fizzy water and avoid buying disposable bottles and transporting water in trucks.
Now I can not get the cylinders refilled and I have one heavy machine, half a dozen empty gas cylinders at about 1Kg each and the two bottles, all now waste. How many PET bottles could I have had for that?

My domestic waste levels are very low, so low that changing car tyres or a car battery can easily double or triple my annual waste output.
I am aware how easy it is to "outsource" your waste. As an example when I scrap my car after owning it from 10 years old to twenty (or more) years old then it will be part of my waste footprint but the original purchaser will not have to count it in their footprint.
Same for recycling, if I put my beer bottles in the recycling waste bin they dont count (despite using lots of energy to recycle) or if I go to a pub and buy a bottled beer.

I had a polystyrene cup of tea recently which was the first time in years, I was rather surprised to get it as I was in the students canteen at the local Agricultural College, a place that could easily cope with some dishwashing.
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meic
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Re: The Mindset of Waste

Postby meic » 13 Sep 2013, 7:47am

A question of scientific/moral interest?

I burn wood and coal for heating in my fire.

I will burn paper and cardboard packaging.

I do not burn plastic bags (mostly food wrappings as Wales has reduced carrier bags through its "tax" system).

Plastic is made from fossil fuels like coal, why dont I just burn it like the other wrappings? Then it would be useful fuel not waste.

When I make something of wood should I use untreated wood that rots quicker but can then be used as fuel. Or should I chemically treat it to make it last but also unfit to burn afterwards (or should I just burn it anyway)?
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easyroller
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Re: The Mindset of Waste

Postby easyroller » 13 Sep 2013, 7:50am

On a cycling and waste related note - I don't get people who throw away punctured inner tubes! They'd rather put in a new one rather than take the small amount of time to repair one. Such a waste. This seems to be a much larger phenomenom in the "roadie" cycling world. Sure tubes are pretty cheap, but not as cheap as a repair kit (as little as £1 from Wilko) that will repair five or more punctures!

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NUKe
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Re: The Mindset of Waste

Postby NUKe » 13 Sep 2013, 7:52am

meic wrote:
I had a polystyrene cup of tea recently which was the first time in years, I was rather surprised to get it as I was in the students canteen at the local Agricultural College, a place that could easily cope with some dishwashing.

There is a line of thought that suggest that the carbon footprint of the polystyrene cup is some 20000 times less than that of the ceramic Mug. So even if the mug manages to last 10 years being used 10 times a day then it will only then start to cost in compared to the Polystyrene one. personally I like my tea in Mug.

There was also a recent case where a frozen pran manufacture claimed they were being more environmentally friendly by sending them to Tialand to be hand shelled rather than machine processing in Scotland.
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meic
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Re: The Mindset of Waste

Postby meic » 13 Sep 2013, 7:55am

Easyroller:
I have had somebody justify this by saying that patches do not stay stuck on thin inner tubes.

I have picked up and patched three thin tubes (left at the roadside by our Sportive friends for me to recycle) but I dont ride 23mm tyres so havent had the chance to test the effectiveness of my handiwork.
Last edited by meic on 13 Sep 2013, 8:04am, edited 1 time in total.
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easyroller
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Re: The Mindset of Waste

Postby easyroller » 13 Sep 2013, 8:03am

meic wrote:I have had somebody justify this by saying that patches do not stay stuck on thin inner tubes.


Then they're doing something wrong. I patch my Continental 18-23mm tubes with cheapo Wilkinson brand patches and glue. :)

Mark1978
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Re: The Mindset of Waste

Postby Mark1978 » 13 Sep 2013, 8:04am

It does often bother me too. Think how much resource and energy goes into making a plastic bottle. Then someone drinks the contents and it's sent to landfill. Nothing more wasteful.

As for replacing tubes. It's more because patching is more hassle and takes more time to do?

freeflow
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Re: The Mindset of Waste

Postby freeflow » 13 Sep 2013, 8:18am

The drinks vending machines where I work allow you to use your own cup/mug.

iandriver
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Re: The Mindset of Waste

Postby iandriver » 13 Sep 2013, 8:25am

There was a piece a while back about a town in the US banning the sale of small water bottles to try and reduce waste:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-20895902

I ignore the water dispenser at work and use a tap. I use a cycling bottle. Stops me destroying keyboards as well when I invariably knock them over.
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reohn2
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Re: The Mindset of Waste

Postby reohn2 » 13 Sep 2013, 9:15am

There's a lot can be done to stop unnecessary waste,a £1 refundable deposit on all drinks bottles for a start,carried one step further by stopping the sale of drinks in alu cans and plastic bottles and forcing companies to reuse glass bottles as used to be the case and still is with glass milk bottles.
Similarly so manufacturers should be responsible for the disposal/reuse of food containers.
The English should follow the example set by the Welsh and Irish with a 50p or even a £1 charge for plastic carrier bags.
Of course it would need a forward thinking government not owned by multinational companies or run by public school twits,and a waking up of an apathetic electorate!

I could write a book about it,and probably would if it didn't cause so much paper waste :wink:

Edit:- there's a post somewhere on the boards,touring section I think,that the poster mentioned he paid more for a bottle of water than a pint of milk.There's something seriously wrong with a society stupid enough to tolerate that!
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pstallwood
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Re: The Mindset of Waste

Postby pstallwood » 13 Sep 2013, 9:30am

When I worked we had a water dispenser with refillable bottles from an outside supplier. All the dispenser did was cool the water - there was nothing special about the water itself. I could not understand why people used to fill up their bottles to take with them when going round the fields (I worked in a farm office) as by the time they came to drink it would be no different in temperature or quality to the water from the kitchen tap.

freeflow
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Re: The Mindset of Waste

Postby freeflow » 13 Sep 2013, 9:32am

To deal with the problem of a 'waste culture' you have to deal with the root problem which is 'profit'. The most effective way of dealing with 'profit' is to demonstrate a method where more profit can be made if the waste isn't produced. Fines, tarifs deposits and legislation don't really address this issue, they just reduce 'profit'. Please note that this has nothing to do with being green or environmentally friendly, but if you want to do your bit for these worthy causes then find alternative ways of increasing 'profit' which meet the three requirements of reducing waste, being green and also environmentally friendly. All other discussion is fiddling whilst Rome burns :D

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meic
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Re: The Mindset of Waste

Postby meic » 13 Sep 2013, 9:35am

I agree with that, as far as it goes.

It does however leave us with the problem of an unsolved "profit culture". I try to do things despite the monetary reasons.
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mrjemm
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Re: The Mindset of Waste

Postby mrjemm » 13 Sep 2013, 9:45am

Regarding CO2 footprint of disposable vs ceramic (same for s/steel?), I would be surprised if it's quite so many, but to me a large factor that doesn't get counted by CO2FP is landfill/recycling; I am very sure the bins aren't recycled for one thing, and landfills are taking over. I reckon NIMBYs would even prefer windfarms. :wink:

I think quite a few vending machines do allow own cup use, but I bet many still use disposable- the coffee here is from a pot (or jar of instant, or tea bag), and they still use the damn things.

Using sticky patches rather than traditional glue and patch surely can't take a significantly greater amount of time than swapping out. They go on, they work, that's it. I only replace a tube when it becomes unfeasible or very awkward- slashed, perished, split around valve, etc. Even though I am not a racer, it never takes long.

Carrier bags. Oh gawd, I forgot those. Sometimes you can't avoid them (duty free for example), but they're still massively used, and supermarkets still encourage it- every time I check out, the cashier always grabs a handfull, opens them in preparation and lays them out for me, as if it's a trained and enforced action (Sainsburys mostly).

I think I've read somewhere (don't believe it to be a myth) about petrol being cheaper than water in parts of US sometime. Possibly the case in the (Persian) Gulf states too.

Wish they would re-introduce deposits. I remember another stab in the back of recycling a few years ago, was the replacement of coloured glass with coloured coatings on plain glass that made recycling 'unviable'. :evil:

And who doesn't have fond memories of Esther Rantzen's gang showing pics of Coke bottles with scrunched up Walkers packets or fag-butts inside?

Freeflow, are you saying that the people I am talking about, the ones who have the option, but choose to use disposable are in it for profit? Or the management of the work location who purchases the disposable cups in the 1st place? Or the client who made a requirement of bottled water on site? I am talking about the user end. I understand the manufacturers make less profit from recyclable goods, but given choice, I would have liked to think the end users would make a considered choice, which I am seeing is clearly not so.