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Tuesday, 4 February 2003

Re-use / Re-cycle

Re - use and re- cycling are not free. I re - user beer bottles and put more beer in them. This process uses a lot of hot water and can also involve bleach or iodine. Yet, it still seems to be more energy efficient than buying new bottles every time. Also, although glass is infinitely recyclable, it must be melted down and otherwise use a lot of energy every time. Noone suggests that we should just give up recycling and use new materials for glass and paper every time to to save energy. No one suggests that we give up on re-usable, re-cyclable glass to use plastic bottles and thorw them into landfills when we're done with them.

Why, then, do some folks alledge that disposable diapers are better than washable? Babies using disposable diapers send one ton of waste to the landfill every year. This goes in a santiary landfill (unlike construction waste, which there is more of every year, but it can be dumped more haphazardly). True, it takes energy and water to wash diapers, but it also takes energy, water and petroleum and lots of space to use disposable diapers. Perhaps it would be better to think of washable diapers as recyclable diapers. Nobody suggests we should use virgin paper pulp instead of recycling paper (since recycling takes energy and water), so think of diapers the same way.

Some folks add the energy needed to transport diapers to and from a diaper service. As if disposables floated home under their own power and then floated on, similarly, to the landfill. Some folkd point ot the existence of "biodegradable" diapers. Papaer also biodegrades, btw, but we still recycle. But paper does not biodegrade in a santiary landfill. Nothing biodegrades in a sanitary landfill. It makes a lousy compost heap. And even if it did biodegrade, so what? You can take the output of your composting toilet and spread it around your rose garden, but you can't do the same with landfill stuff, since it's full of all sorts of pollutants. throwing something into a landfill is throwing it away and any usefulness and value it might have had away for the next several generations, perhaps forever. Biodegradable diapers would stills end one ton of waste to a landfill.

Oxygen bleach kills germs. If you soak something in oxygen bleach, it keels germs just like chlorine bleach, but unlike the latter, it "biodegrades" into oxygen and water, because oxygen bleach is just hydrogem peroxide. Therefore, you have a method of killing diaper germs that is not polluting. I just thought I'd share..

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