Reducing waste is hard

posted by Jeff | Monday, May 17, 2021, 7:04 PM | comments: 0

If there's something to be observed in the last year, it's that we seem to be creating a whole lot more garbage than we used to. Our recycling to trash ratio is generally 2 to 1 in favor of recycling, if not more, but I'm making the possibly incorrect assumption that much of what we put in the blue can actually gets recycled. I'm reasonably comfortable with straight up cardboard boxes, for which Amazon creates a ton, but food takeout is just a horrible mess of single-use plastic. Heck, certain restaurants are using plastic for dine-in for the purpose of "clean." Was the silverware dirty before the pandemic?

I tend to feel guilty about electronics. This comes to mind as I just replaced my personal laptop, when I have my now three-year-old one, my old MacBook Air from 2012, and a Surface Pro 3 from 2015. That's a lot of old computers lying around. When my printer stopped working last year, I was certain it could be fixed, I just didn't know how, so I gave it away only on the condition that someone would try to fix it. Phones are less of a big deal since you can usually do a trade. But in general, it's hard to find places to drop lithium-ion batteries, or the devices containing them, for free.

It's not entirely bad, mind you. A lot of restaurants are using biodegradable packaging, including "plastic" forks that are vegetable based. One of my favorites, Florida-based Tijuana Flats, is doing that almost entirely now. Electronics packaging is fairly thoughtful when you buy the good stuff, without a lot of plastic, if any, in the box. Assembly-required furniture is pretty bad though, full of plastic and bubble wrap. It's also worth noting that all of this delivery is actually a positive. Better one driver goes from a store to three or four houses than three or four drivers go to one store.

We try to make good choices, but the manufacturers of the world need to play ball to enable good choices. This seems like one of those things that should be a solved problem. It's another one of those things that the petroleum lobby keeps any meaningful regulation from happening, and if that weren't enough, people flip out about using paper straws (be a grown up, you don't need a straw).


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