It is day 7 into the Daily Footprint Project, and I just realized I have omitted recycling completely. Part of me thought, if it’s recycled, it’s ok, no need to include in the footprint checklist. Recycling is a little like carbon offsets, an easy way out of green guilt. If I recycle the stuff, it is as if I never consumed it in the first place. Is it?
Let’s take today’s example. We recycled both of our Sunday papers. A lot of paper, water, and energy, must go into producing and transporting those. Recycling also involves energy, and water to transport the old papers, sort them, transform them into pulp, and produce the new paper. The only things being saved are the trees. Meanwhile, coal plants keep emitting nasty greenhouse gases, and more of our water gets depleted.
The same reasoning can apply to all the other recyclables: other types of paper, plastics, glass, cans and foil, motor oil, batteries, scrap metal.
This is all important stuff. Even more important is the gross approximation that took place in my mind. Recyclable is a double edged sword. It is good in principle. If you are going to buy the stuff anyway, you might as well make sure it is recyclable. Less in landfills, more untouched natural resources. It’s too bad, it also gave me permission to hastily jump to an erroneous conclusion. If it’s recyclable, I can consume as much as I want.
Daily Footprint Project Daily Log Day #7 Water personal: flush toilet 2 wash face 2 brush teeth 2 wash hands 4 two showers at the gym mom: communal: rinse dishes run full load dishwasher Electricity/gas personal: electric toothbrush 2 microwave tea 2’ microwave oatmeal 4’ laptop on all day microwave soup 3’ mom: toast bread communal: lights dishwasher Food personal: oatmeal with organic milk tea organic apple take out soup from Whole Foods mom: salami from Canada organic white bread communal: dinner out Chinese Waste personal: toilet paper sheets of paper 2 mom: plastic bag communal: 3 newspaper plastic wrappers Recycling personal: mom: communal: 2 Sunday papers plastic bag 1 newspaper plastic wrappers 3 soup carton Transportation personal: mom: communal: drive to gym 6 miles drive to meet friend for dinner drive to pick up Lashy 5 miles drive to drop off Lashy 5 miles Non food shopping personal: mom: communal: