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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

“No” Impact Man Columbia?

I have blogged on the movie “No Impact Man” and decided to read the book and check out the blog that the author has set up. For those of you not familiar with the author or book you can get the movie from Netflix or the book from the library.  Colin Beavan was an author that lived in NYC with his wife and young daughter and wanted to see how he could change his life style to lessen his impact on the environment.  Needless to say he went to extremes by turning off all electricity and only eating what he could buy from local producers within 200 miles of the City.

On a recent vacation I decided to read the book and see how many modifications I could try.  I also thought that I would try out the modifications for one week to not lock myself into a change that I couldn’t live with.  The only question was which one to start with.  I had posted earlier my attempt to reduce (notice I didn’t say eliminate) paper products.  Some were easy.  Using a towel instead of paper napkins and paper towels was easy.  I was always amazed at how much we spent on those products even buying in bulk.  Using a regular plate instead of paper plates was also easy.  I don’t think my wife would accept my eliminating toilet paper for ----you guessed it---a wash rag wouldn’t fly so I didn’t go that far.

An area that has really annoyed me is the packaging that is used with almost all items today.  Even though we try to recycle the wrappings it still seems to be a waste of trees to use all that packaging.  From the sealed plastic that any item that Best Buy sells (and you need a special tool to open) to the food packaging that uses multiple materials in an effort to keep food fresh. This trend has hit a new level of ridiculousness with the individual wrapping of bananas by Del Monte. Remember when Giant tried the bulk item bins to try and promote a more county store image? Guess that didn’t work.

Wasn’t the digital age supposed to make us a paperless society? Why is my trash container next to my computer always overflowing and my need to buy new ink cartridges so frequent?  Why does the Medical Plan have to have me sign the same release form every time I go there?  Wouldn’t once a year be enough?

This last area that Colin addressed is an easy one for me these days—the disposable diaper.  Seeing how they are the third most common item in landfills and may take 500 years to degrade we seem to have given up on the cloth diaper for the convenience of the disposable.  Having worked many years ago in the Proctor and Gamble plant that makes Pampers I saw and contributed to the building of what was called “Pamper Mountain” in Mehoopany, Pennsylvania. All the rejected Pampers were disposed of next to the plant by the truckload everyday.  You can see “Pamper Mountain” in the picture above on the right center part of the picture of the P&G plant in Mehoopany, Pennsylvania.  If you use Bounty paper towels, Charmin toilet paper or Pampers this is where they are made.  For those interested there are alternatives to the disposable diaper checkout BumGenius and gDiapers.

Next week I will report on my attempt to reduce (again notice the work “reduce” not “eliminate”) my paper use for a week. Join me for the week and let me know how it goes for you.  Stay tuned.

I read an article in the business section of the Sun yesterday about the lap band manufacturers going after the teenage obesity market for their product.  Is surgery the way to deal with teenage obesity???  Sign of our “out of whack” times.


Anonymous said...

As someone who has worked in retail for 15 years, the product packaging you take home with you isn't even a fraction of the problem. When you start to add up the costs of trucking everything (and the packaging that comes along with that transport), the re-packaging through a third party (after food has been washed or, in my industry, clothing has been outfitted with its proper logo) then shipped to the retail stores and even potentially repackaged in a lovely gift box (and then gift wraped!), the amount of waste that single item actually produces superseds anything the consumer actually touches or sees. Yes, we can do our part by recycling, but more impact can be made at the industry level. I commend you for your pledge and I hope it inspires your readers because perhaps some of those readers are decision makers at their businesses and can start to make small changes there too.

Anonymous said...

I have begun to unpackage my purchase before leaving the store and asking the store to dispose of it. This only works for things I know I'll keep.. and I know if I brought it home I would surely recycle it, not just put it in the trash... but I wonder if we all did this - if the stores would feel the pressure?

duanestclair said...

The packaging issue is one that I will try to address by buying as much in bulk as I can and looking for the least packaged item. Hitting the farmers market at East Columbia Library too. It will be more fruits and vegetables for the week. It will be interested to see how this goes for the week.