Tag Archives: Animals

Recycling (2nd)

Concerning Glass

In the late 1980’s, someone noted that yearly, we throw away enough glass bottles and jars to refill the original twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center every two weeks.

That’s a lot of waste.

Recycling is an obvious alternative.  But how to get started?

A checklist:

What to keep for recycling—all glass bottles and jars.

What not to keep—light bulbs, window panes, anything Pyrex.  These are made from a different process and can’t be combined with scrap bottle and jar glass.

Zero waste—All recycled bottles and jars are used to make more glass.

Less pollution—Glass decomposes slo-o-o-wly.  No joke—A discarded beer bottle could still be trashing the planet ten centuries from now.

Pollution, again— Making glass entirely from raw materials, (white sand, soda, lime), produces a certain amount of air and water pollution.  Use of recycled glass in the mix reduces this pollution by 20% and 50% respectively.

Energy—Use of recycled glass reduces energy consumption ¹ by approximately 32%.  Because we produce a lot of glass year by year, that energy savings is no small matter.

Preparation—includes setting up a convenient home routine.  A cardboard box hidden in a closet, a plastic trash can somewhere outside.  Sort bottles by color: clear, green, brown.  Remove lead collars, corks, and any metal caps that can’t be removed magnetically.  Don’t worry about paper labels. Time expenditure after set-up = 20 minutes a week.

Rinsing—Sometimes recommended, isn’t rigidly required.  Check with the recycling plant.

$$$$—Does your recycling plant pay for glass?  If so, you could maybe do a little fundraising for a favorite institution.

Go mildly political:  Support so-called “bottle bills” which require consumers to pay a deposit for glass bottles, refunded when bottles are returned.  States which already have such laws on the books report 90% compliance with accompanying 50% reduction of litter.

Become a wonk:  Glass Packaging Institute ² offers free pamphlets on glass recycling.

We ‘re interconnected with everything.  Everything we do/don’t do affects everything else.

Separation or isolation is an illusion.

Our humble choices, person by person, have large cumulative effect for better or worse.

Big problems are solved most cost effectively at the grass roots level, as each private citizen does his/her bit.

It’s similar to the ways of an army ant colony—having common purpose, army ants can consume a six-ton elephant down to the bone.


Each individual ant takes a few little bites.

¹ Using all new materials, 7600 BTUs of energy are needed to produce a single pound of  glass.

² 1801 K Street NW, Washington D.C. 20006


An Unsuspected Deadly Weapon

Mass releases of balloons are a popular way to celebrate special events.

What could possibly be “deadly” about that?

Lets talk.

In the mid 1980’s, a female sperm whale died on the New Jersey coast.  Marine scientists, examining the corpse, found a swallowed, indigestible balloon blocking its intestinal tract. Unable to digest food, the whale had starved to death.

For reasons yet unknown, schools of squid, a sperm whale’s preferred food, like to hang out around pieces of plastic.  The hungry whale swallows the balloon with the squid, thus setting the stage for another disaster.

Balloons don’t just rise and later fall locally.  They can travel great distances.

In one test, a balloon released in Ohio took just two days to reach the South Carolina coast.

Balloons falling into the ocean quickly loose color. And with ribbons, strings, or streamers attached their appearance easily fools sea turtles into thinking they’re eating jellyfish, their favorite food.

With their intestinal tracts blocked by the indigestible balloons, they, like whales, starve to death.

For most of us, fair questions are:  “Who knew?”  and  “What to do?”

First, let’s not release our balloons.  Let’s hold onto them, pop ’em and trash ’em.

Second, if our groups are planning mass balloon releases, let’s (politely) make sure  folks know about the hazards.


Styrofoam—A Pain In The…Environment

“No man made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”—Edmund Burke


Its made with benzene, a known carcinogen, which is converted into styrene, which is then injected with gas to make it “foamy.”

Gases used are: CFC’s which damage Earth’s protective ozone layer, or HCFC’s,  which, although 95% less harmful, still do damage. Alternatively, pentane or butane may be used.  These are components of urban smog.

Styrofoam is completely non-biodegradable, so its possible the stuff will still be lying around in original form 1000 years from now.

Stryofoam is dangerous to marine life.  Lots of styrofoam winds up in the ocean.  Wave action breaks it into pieces that look like food. When eaten, it can clog an animal’s system.

Then it starves to death.

Paper cups, plates, egg cartons, etc. are biodegradable, and are therefore our products of choice.  Whenever possible, lets politely insist on them.

Every earth-friendly choice slows or reduces pollution.

Its a mathematical certainty.

A Meditation

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”

O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom thou hast given the earth in common with us.  We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty, so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to Thee in song, has been a groan of travail.  May we realize that they live, not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee, and that in their own way, they too love the sweetness of life.

                                                                                                  — Based on the Liturgy of Saint Basil

“Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.”

                                                                                                  — Albert Schweitzer