( – promoted by buhdydharma )
This is not what you think, I believe for transportation and energy we certainly CAN and will end that dependency. What few of us think about is all the products using petroleum as part of their manufacturing process. Follow me below the fold for a partial list of the thousands of items we use everyday tying us to oil for years to come.
Sports Car Bodies
Car Battery Cases
Ice Cube Trays
Soft Contact lenses
Who knew? A lot of the items on the list use plastics and plastics come from petroleum. It is not that we have to stop using or do without but it is a matter of conserving and making smart choices about what we use and how we dispose.
Currently 25% of the material in landfills around the country is plastics of one variety or another. Plastic is the forever gift we give Mother Earth. A better disposal is either recylcing so they can be used to make more plastic products (the best use) or burning to create electricity. What you also may not know is, while only certain types of plastics are collected for recycling, virtually EVERY plastic can be recycled. The biggest stumbling block to recycling all plastic is in some case is costs more energy to produce recycled items than completely new. It then becomes a question of the other effects of producing new as compared to recycled. Sometimes the added energy costs are canceled out by better environmental use, less pollutants and significantly lower amounts of CO2 released.
We now have plastics that may not be exactly forever, biodegradable and photodegradable plastics are beginning to being used with more regularity. The biodegradable variety is made by adding cornstarch and vegetable oil, assuming it will make the plastic more appetizing to bacteria. Unfortunately bacteria in landfills is suppressed on purpose to keep toxic materials from breaking down and gaining acess to ground water etc. So in the end the new plastics are still going to last a very long time and the most significant downside biodegradable plastics are not recyclable.
Something you might not know about plastic bags that is important. First the manufacture of plastic grocery bags for instance is 20-40% more energy efficient than paper bags. They are also more compact and lighter so it takes less to transport them. Many places are outlawing plastic bags, when instead using only bags made from recycled plastic could easily be a winner and sound environmentally.
Is it worth a try, you bet! It takes 10% of the energy to produce recycled plastic as new plastic. We use about 2 MILLION barrels of oil a day to produce plastics or nearly 750 million barrels a year and with being smart about what we buy and recycling we can put a significant dent in that amount.
But there is much more we can do recycling. Glass, recycled glass has a net savings of 700 pounds of CO2 per ton of glass. In 2006 we generated 13.2 million tons of glass waste. If we recycled that glass we could have kept nearly 5 million tons of CO2 sequestered. AND glass is recyclable literally forever.
Paper? According to the Department of Energy every ton of paper using recycled materials saves 7,000 gallons of water, as many as 31 trees, 4,000 KWh of electricity and 60 pounds of pollutants not including CO2. In addition recycling paper uses about 60% less energy.
We need to reduce our use of all these products. Reducing their use reduces their manufacture and saves not only the initial energy used but reduces the need for raw materials, drilling and mining and a variety of toxic pollutants plus additional CO2 released.
Reusing and repurposing, gives us our biggest savings of all, we need to reuse or repurpose when ever possible. And then when it makes sense, recycle.
I am hoping over the next weeks to make this a series of the things we can do as individuals, neighborhoods, towns and cities to find alternatives that work toward saving the environment, reducing global warming and enhancing our quality of life.