|Our over-flowing recycling sack|
After reading I was alternately inspired and dismayed all over again at the sheer amounts of plastic in our everyday life. However green we try to be, however much we recycle, there is still plastic making its way into landfills, or worse into our oceans.
So shopping was accompanied by a guilt trip. Could the fact that we still buy black bin bags, be offset against the choice of bags made of 100% recycled plastic? How to acquire pasta or rice without those non-recyclable crinkly plastic bags? Our local town doesn’t offer the convenient bulk buying stores that seem to be a feature of some Canadian and US cities (going by the blogs I’ve been reading) where you can fill up your own re-used glass containers. And horrors when the fresh bunches of carrots that used to be just tied up with string have now been promoted to a plastic sleeve... (we're still waiting for several rows of carrots to produce in the veggie garden and some dear, cuddly creature is nibbling the tops).
Tangled Tree Treasures competition finally arrived. They are a new range of wines from the Van Loveren estate near Robertson, promoting green living, bio-diversity and ethical choices. The box contained sample bottles of the five wines in their range, named enticingly and with pretty labels... and bottled in plastic?!
A quick look at their site and at a few other internet forums showed an alternative perspective on green packaging thinking: PET plastic can actually have a much lighter carbon footprint than glass. I found several arguments both for and against this view. The most balanced one was an opinion piece stating both pros and cons and didn’t get all hot under the collar about it - this I think is the one I’ll go with for now.
Basically the view is this:
- PET uses a whole lot less resources and energy to produce than glass.
- PET is much lighter than glass and takes up less space, therefore it uses less fuel to ship.
- PET is much sturdier, therefore less breakage and less wastage.
- PET can now be recycled over and over again without losing its integrity, just as glass can.
- PET doesn’t have several of the ooh nasties such as BPA and phthalates that make a lot of plastics a bad choice for food products.
I resisted this a little to start with. I like glass – it feels better than plastic, worthier, greener, more real. Plastics are the big baddies of the eco-system, cluttering up our oceans and killing our marine life.
Common sense eventually makes me re-consider and admit that there is room for wines bottled in plastic, especially if they are being exported around the world, and as long as the bottles will eventually be recycled.
Glass is still going to be the best option: if it can be re-used multiple times before being recycled; if the product is distributed close to where it originates, so not too much transport is involved. Think jars of yoghurt from your local dairy that can be returned again and again.
I guess the crux of the matter lies in responsible recycling. If we could guarantee that all those plastic bottle would make it into a recycling program and be turned back into bottles again indefinitely, it wouldn’t be so bad. And if glass could be re-used indefinitely that would also be a winning solution. So in the end it comes down to our behaviour... and what a challenge that is.
Please feel free
I’ll leave you with Beth’s in depth research into Pepsi’s much touted PET drinks bottle, released last year, made from plant based plastic.