Archive for the ‘recycle’ Tag

More Greenwashing Napkins   Leave a comment

Apparently I’m on a greenwashing bent right now, what with my last two posts being about greenwashing in the dry cleaning industry and nail polish marketing. I notice things unfortunately often, but don’t always make note of them.

Last year I posted about the greenwashing paper napkins that Quiznos was using, this year I have another paper napkin from a pizza chain (I don’t remember which one and there’s no logo on the napkin). The claim? “Save the environment, one napkin at a time.” Even a 100% recycled paper napkin is not going to save the environment. Recycling is at the bottom of the 3-R’s since it is the least beneficial. Using FEWER napkins (reduce), and/or using cloth napkins (reuse), would be better choices but still wouldn’t quite rise to “save the environment” level. These types of small steps need to be part of a larger pattern, a larger movement, to really be effective. Yes, it’s a very good thing to use disposable napkins made from 100% recycled material, and I wish that all fast food/take-out restaurants did so. However, it really annoys me when a company makes outrageous claims of benefit for very small steps. Does anyone actually see these logos and think that the restaurant is a “green” restaurant? Or does anyone actually think that using recycled disposable napkins instead of virgin disposable napkins will save the world? Now, if the claim was “Help the environment, one napkin at a time” I might be able to get on board with it not being greenwashing.

A non-greenwashing (at least in my opinion) example is some brands/sizes of bottled water that I’ve seen recently that are using smaller caps to use less plastic. The bottles that I’ve seen haven’t gone to such lengths as to redesign the label touting that they’re saving the world by using less plastic, they’ve put a note on the label that by using smaller caps they are using less plastic. There is no “save the world” claim, only a mention that this is part of an “ongoing effort to reduce [their] impact on the environment.” For that reason I’m thinking that this is not greenwashing but is legitimate green marketing of a product that is inherently not environmentally friends. There’s only so much that the impact of a disposable plastic water bottle can be reduced. Disposable means landfill space with long-term maintenance of leaching and methane production, or incineration with air pollution and ash disposal concerns, or recycling with energy consumption and downcycling issues. Plastic most likely means petroleum product, with all the impact associated with oil drilling, or it can mean corn product, which also has a significant footprint of energy and other inputs. And water itself is a concern. Some brands of bottled water are tap water, but some are “spring water” and by my understanding that means they have to tap into the spring before it reaches the surface. This requires the construction of an industrial facility in an otherwise untouched place, and my cause the spring to dry up and change the local hydrology. And then there’s that Fiji water brand that ships bottled water to us rich first-worlders while the locals don’t have adequate sanitation and clean water facilities.

Posted April 14, 2012 by mayakey in environment, resource use

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The Moving Box Search   3 comments

This morning I made my second early morning mall run. No, I wasn’t joining the mall walkers (they were out in force), I was dumpster diving for boxes.

The thought of paying for moving boxes pains me. I’ve never had to do it and it is so “easy” to get free boxes. Even more so than the monetary cost of new boxes, I am not comfortable with the environmental cost of new boxes. Even though cardboard boxes for shipping have one of the best recycling track records (manufacturers and retailers like to keep their costs down, after all), there is still way more energy used in the transport and recycling of old cardboard boxes than the reuse of those boxes before they get recycled. Plus new cardboard boxes are not generally 100% recycled; they do contain some virgin fibers.

In the past, I’ve gotten cardboard boxes by going to stores like Wal-Mart or Target at night when they are restocking the shelves. You can literally troll the store collecting the empty boxes. I’ve even staked out a particular box until an employee came to unload the stuff inside. The problem with this method is that you have to drive around late at night hauling piles of cardboard boxes. When working full time, spending an hour or so every day cleaning the new house, taking care of regular chores, and taking care of the other moving stuff (utilities, new appliances, etc.) there’s really no time or energy left for box collection. I really should have started box collection at least a month ago, but I couldn’t psych myself up.

Instead, I planned on using freecardboardboxes.com to find someone locally with free boxes that I could take. Well, that website is now defunct. Craigslist didn’t have any used cardboard box listings, and I’m not a member of Freecycle. So my Plan B was to buy boxes from usedcardboardboxes.com (at least that way I could avoid using new boxes, which is really more important to me than the cost). Then I went to the website and saw the cost. They are definitely competing with U-Haul and other places that sell crazy expensive boxes. There is just no way I am going to pay over $2/box! Not when I can get them for free!

So I called Target to make sure that I could pick up boxes and I was told they prefer people to come first thing in the morning rather than at night after the store has closed. Fishy, but I did that, and luckily I found a very nice employee who didn’t take no from her supervisor and went into the back to load a cart full of boxes for me. Half of them were not particularly helpful sizes, though. I also followed a suggestion that I had found on the internet: I drove across the street to the mall and searched for the recycling dumpsters. Gold mine! I was able to pack my car to the gills with clean used boxes. Of course, I wasn’t able to get as many as we will need, hence mall dumpster run number two this morning. I don’t have time to do it again, so if we still need more boxes at the last minute we’ll have to buy them from Home Depot where they are under $1/box. Yes, even I cave at the last minute.

Posted August 5, 2010 by mayakey in conscious living, home, resource use, shopping

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