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Which is more environmentally-friendly?

Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001
 

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Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001
Often we have a couple of options when it comes to doing similar things or purchasing the same product. For instance, shower or bath? Washing dishes by hand or by dishwasher? That kind of thing.

So I thought I'd start a thread where we can discuss our dilemmas about which option is more environmentally-friendly.

So here's my first one.

I live in Toronto, which doesn't recycle plastic bags. I have a choice of buying 4L of milk in a big plastic jug, which I can take back to the store and have them recycle (for a deposit) or I can buy it in the plastic bags that fit in the milk pitcher. I generally buy the plastic jug because that's how the corner store sells it and it's convenient. And they recycle it when I return it. And I can't recycle plastic bags.

BUT...I just wonder whether the hard plastic is less environmentally-friendly when it comes to producing it than the plastic bags are. Does more material go into the jugs than the bags?

What do you think?

P.S. Interesting discussion here. But they mostly assume the plastic bags are recyclable. It's interesting to read about how they reuse the bags, though.

P.P.S. Another interesting article!

[ 20 April 2008: Message edited by: Michelle ]


Skinny Dipper
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Joined: Dec 23 2005
I can only suggest when taking a shower to plug the drain. When you are finished your shower, see how much water is in the tub. If there is little water, then a shower is better for the environment. If you are taking a long shower and you suddenly realize that the tub is overflowing, I suggest you stop your shower and unplug the drain. Eureka!

Boom Boom
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Joined: Dec 29 2004
One factor that is sometimes neglected in the 'shower vs bath debate' is that not all communities are serviced by sewer lines. If, like mine, your drain goes into a septic tank, the larger quantity of warm water, especially in winter, is (I think) more beneficial to the septic tank - the contents of the septic tank need to be continually diluted in order to break down and seep into the ground so the septic tank doesn't fill up, and need to be emptied by a commercial septic contractor. There's no net benefit as far as I can see to taking a shower instead of a bath in communities using septic tanks. There's plenty of water in the ground, however (except on the island of Harrington Harbour - HH uses a system of cisterns that capture rain water as the sole source of water for all purposes).

I think there are no sewer systems east of Sept-Iles except perhaps for Havre St. Pierre. And there are a lot of small communities from Sept-Iles, Quebec, all the way out to Red Bay, Labrador.

We finished building a house in Nepean Township in 1959, and every house in that community had a septic tank. I think today Nepean has a city-wide sewer system connected to a treatment plant. I gather the old septic tanks are still in the ground.


M. Spector
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Joined: Feb 19 2005
From a Toronto Works Committee Staff Report, April 21, 2004:
quote:Plastic film markets have been investigated and it has been determined that there are no stable markets available, at this time, that could accept the quantity of plastic film that would be collected in the City’s Blue Box program. Plastic film would include items such as plastic grocery bags, laundry garment bags, milk bags, bread bags, plastic wrap etc.

Based on waste audits, it is estimated that there are approximately 9,500 tonnes of plastic film in the residential waste stream. Based on the current capture rate for PET and HDPE plastics, the City would recover 5,000 tonnes of plastic film annually from single-family and multi-family residences, if stable markets materialized.

Nothing has changed since then with regard to plastic film recycling. That’s 20,000 tonnes of plastic film that has gone into landfill, that could otherwise have been recovered in the Blue Box, in the almost exactly four years since this report.

This illustrates the utter folly of using a capitalist free-market system to recycle waste; nobody will do it unless they can make a profit. If there was ever a crying need for a publicly-owned industry, this is a perfect example.

[ 20 April 2008: Message edited by: M. Spector ]


Skinny Dipper
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Joined: Dec 23 2005
I did neglect to mention the energy-saving showerhead which I took off. I found that I was spending more time in the shower. The showerhead was getting clogged up. My showers were also annoying me because the low flow meant that it took longer to regulate the temperature of the shower. I did splurge on a multi-head showerhead that includes a water saving head. I just don't use it all the time. I do like a good shower massage. Me bad!

RosaL
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Joined: Mar 4 2007
I once read, on babble, a description of how one can get perfectly clean with a bucket of water and a pitcher. People all over the world use this method. It works.

ElizaQ
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Joined: May 27 2005
Well when I buy milk I buy both. I grew up with the milk in a plastic bag and pitcher and a father who reused and recycled as long as I can remember. He would cut open the tops and wash out the bags. He even built a little drying rack thing with three dowels that stuck up so the bags could be draped over them. That's what we used instead of sandwich bags or ziploc baggies. The drawer was full of them. He would also use the dairyland milk bag that the the they came in to carry his lunch to work in.
So now I find that I actually but both because, yes I do the same thing with the bags, but I also have several uses for the plastic milk jugs as well. So I buy depending on what I need.
I really have little clue as to which is environmentally better in the case of when you reuse them like I do.

I have done the shower test. I use less water then a bath. I really, really love baths though so again I do both. (Well right now I don't have any water at my house and just sponge bath, but that's not normal) I generally shower most of the time and treat myself to a bath at least once a week.


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001
quote:Originally posted by RosaL:
I once read, on babble, a description of how one can get perfectly clean with a bucket of water and a pitcher. People all over the world use this method. It works.

Where?? I'd like to read that.


RosaL
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Joined: Mar 4 2007
quote:Originally posted by Michelle:

Where?? I'd like to read that.

I'm not sure, Michelle. It was at least a year ago and a guy from the middle east posted it, I think. (He mentioned that it was the way people washed in his country - and elsewhere.) Anyway, I've been using his method (with some lapses) and can describe it, if necessary. But I'll see if I can find it first....

[ 20 April 2008: Message edited by: RosaL ]


jas
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Joined: Jun 6 2005
Michelle, I thought you were vegan! [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

Anyway, are bottles not an option? They're not here - I really miss buying Avalon milk.


Timebandit
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Joined: Sep 25 2001
quote:Originally posted by RosaL:
I once read, on babble, a description of how one can get perfectly clean with a bucket of water and a pitcher. People all over the world use this method. It works.

I think this is more feasible in warm climates. It would be damned uncomfortable here, especially if you're trying to keep your energy usage down by turning down the heat.

ETA: Michelle, do they not have paper cartons in TO? I prefer them because they don't take up as much space as the 4l jug and they are actually better to recycle than plastic.

[ 21 April 2008: Message edited by: Timebandit ]


Boom Boom
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Joined: Dec 29 2004
quote:Originally posted by RosaL:
I once read, on babble, a description of how one can get perfectly clean with a bucket of water and a pitcher. People all over the world use this method. It works.

I lived in a trailer for a while with no running water; there was a community tap of potable water that we could fill buckets and water containers with for our use. I would heat up enough water on the stove and the kettle to put in the bathtub and give myself a sponge bath and rinse - even in winter. I'd heat up the bathroom considerably with the baseboard heater, first. Inconvenient, but much better than going without.


Yibpl
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Joined: Dec 5 2007
quote:Chopping down trees to make books is good for the environment, provided you then line your walls with bookcases

BoingBoing; Chopping Down Trees


Southlander
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Joined: Sep 22 2005
I dont think that will wash!

quote:Originally posted by Boom Boom:
Quote:
One factor that is sometimes neglected in the 'shower vs bath debate' is that not all communities are serviced by sewer lines. If, like mine, your drain goes into a septic tank, the larger quantity of warm water, especially in winter, is (I think) more beneficial to the septic tank

I think they would get enough water from the dishwasher and/or washing machine.
However no harm done as long as you have gravity fed rain water and septic systems, and grow your own wood to heat the water. Then take as many big long hot baths as you like!

[ 21 April 2008: Message edited by: Southlander ]


Boom Boom
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Joined: Dec 29 2004
quote:Originally posted by Southlander:
I think they would get enough water from the dishwasher and/or washing machine.
However no harm done as long as you have gravity fed rain water and septic systems, and grow your own wood to heat the water. Then take as many big long hot baths as you like!

"Grow your own wood to heat the water"? Who among us has the property to enable that kind of self-sustaining economy? [img]confused.gif" border="0[/img]


Bubbles
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Joined: Feb 21 2003
When one takes a shower/bath might have an effect on its ecological impact.

I am not sure about the breakdown on how many of us shower in the morning or evening. But if you heat your water electrically than an evening shower, just before hitting the sack, might use more eco friendly power then morning showers, which due to peak demand might include a few coal plants. Also the bedsheets stay clean longer. Less laundry. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]


Southlander
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Joined: Sep 22 2005
quote:"Grow your own wood to heat the water"? Who among us has the property to enable that kind of self-sustaining economy?

It's having the property to enable a self-sustaining carbon level, ie being carbon neutral. Yeh I know, if the electricity is 100% carbon neutral then it's OK too, but not many countries have that on offer.


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001
Water cooler/filtration system that filters tap water (but that you have to plug into the wall/uses electricity) or one of those water dispensers that take the big jugs of water?

This is assuming that you cannot drink the tap water unfiltered, which of course would be my first choice.


Michelle
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Joined: May 10 2001
quote:Originally posted by jas:
Michelle, I thought you were vegan! [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

Anyway, are bottles not an option? They're not here - I really miss buying Avalon milk.

I was for a year and a half, but I was finding it very difficult with a child who is not even vegetarian to keep it up when he is with me a lot. And I was finding that cooking two separate meals for both of us is difficult, not only because it was twice as much work, but because I found there wasn't much "communion" when I was eating stuff he refused to eat and he ate stuff I refused to eat.

So I compromised and added dairy back to my diet, and I found it impossible to eat dairy when he was with me and then eat none of it when he wasn't (there are leftovers and I don't want to waste food, etc.). I eat some fish/meat now too, but not very often - I find I don't have much appetite for meat now, and feel a lot of guilt when I eat it. I'm getting over that, but part of me doesn't really want to get over it. I still think that someday when my kid is older I'll go back to it, although I probably won't actually give myself the "label" next time so that there is room for flexibility when necessary. [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

There are a whole lot of food and diet related things that I'd like to undertake to be more healthy and environmentally-friendly. And I do believe that eventually everyone will have to stop eating so many animal products simply because it will be environmentally necessary to stop dedicating so much of our growing space to animal feed.


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