Need data on the Green Living movement

I’m trying to find reports or articles that indicate “Living Green” (i.e., recycling, compact fluorescent light bulbs, those specialty soaps) are possibly more expensive and ultimately ineffective.

Or maybe I am wrong?


This study doesn’t take the environmental costs of producing CFLs into account, but its conclusion is that CFLs make absolute economic sense relative to conventional bulbs:

It’s talking about commercial users, but the same should hold true for residential users.

Another good place to start would be the Penn and Teller’s Bullshit episode about recycling. I’m not sure that this would be a source of articles per se, but it would be a source of information and maybe give you an idea where to start looking. The names of the experts that they have on the show, for example, have probably published stuff about this.

In particular I remember one woman who showed on a map why the idea that we’re running out of landfill space is ridiculous.

I don’t think anyone seriously believes that the US is running out of landfill space. That argument really only applies to countries with higher population density, like the UK. The US is practically an empty wasteland relative to its developed peers.

I think one of the biggest environmental hoaxes is recycling glass. Glass is an environmental disaster. Start with the stripping and dredging for the sand. Then the first transportation to a glass plant, and the huge usage of natural gas. To the extent that glass is recycled, it does reduce those costs. Then the packaging to protect the heavy, fragile product. More transportation. A certain loss at the bottling plant from breakage generating more solid waste. Again transportation and more transportation to the consumer, and plenty of opps along the way. Oh, some of the breakage generates medical waste. Since a broken bottle is contaminated, it and everything else has to go to landfill. When the consumer is finished, the bottle has to be washed, hot water and soap down the drain. Then another transportation chain, some of it labor intensive curbside pick up. Finally more natural gas consumed at the glass factory.

I do have to congratulate the glass industry and unions for supporting recycling. Sort of an enlightened self interest. Yes, glass recycles, but at an enormous energy expenditure. Besides, what else can you do with it? Recycling or not, much of it ends up in our landfills. It is also a severe littering problem. Who ever cut their finger on a broken plastic bottle?

Unfortunately I have no links to direct you to.

local governments are closing landfills. garbage has to be trucked many hundreds of miles to get to a landfill. we aren’t running out of landfill space it just keeps ending up farther away.

Well of course there is space - but what would you prefer, open countryside or huge festering piles of rubbish?

A lot of it is just common sense - use less stuff, and reuse it when you’re done with it. It’s not rocket science.

Why do you want to cherry-picke? You got an ideological axe to grind?

Yes, definitly. But since your mind is made up already, quotes won’t convince, esp. from socalist Europe, where it certainly works.

If that is the best reason for recycling you can come up with, you have wasted several bales of straw for a straw man.

Hmm. Your method seems slightly error-prone :slight_smile: I’d suggest looking at available data first and THEN making up your mind. And then remaining open-minded for technological or procedural changes in the future.

Recycling: It depends on the material and your location (Popular Mechanics article). In some cases it makes no sense to recycle, in others it makes a whole lot of sense.

Spoilering the CFL and soaps section because I have no cites handy. Read it if it interests you, but it’s a summary and not data (sorry).

[spoiler]CFLs: No cites handy, but they’re more energy-efficient and cost less to run on an hourly period. Payback time versus initial cost depends on how you use a particular light fixture, the quality of the bulb (some low-quality CFLs break much sooner than they’re supposed to) and any market subsidies in place (where I live, for example, you can get a 4-pack for $1 or pick up individual bulbs for free from certain organizations). Disposal is more problematic, requiring drop-off at a recycling center, hazardous waste pickup site, or (sometimes) hardware stores.

Specialty soaps: I think these are aimed towards specific niches and not sold as “green” overall from an efficiency standpoint. Usually they’re sold to people who dislike artificial products or animal testing, or people who have sensitive skin, or people who like to buy in bulk, or people who need all-natural soaps for greywater systems and whatnot. They are almost always more expensive and will seem overpriced unless you fall into one of their targeted niches.[/spoiler]

“Living green” is a lot more nuanced than you make it out to be. Whether an individual’s lifestyle is “worth it” to them or to society at large depends very much on the specifics. At its core, the ideology is about minimizing waste and maximizing longer-term availability at the expense of short-term gain, but the particular methods any individual uses will affect the resulting calculations by a lot.

My city (Plano, Texas) is heavily promoting recycling. In their newsletter they explained that there is no landfill in Plano. Trash has to be “exported” quite a distance away as we are surrounded by other cities. Meanwhile the recycled stuff is taken for free. There is enough “gold” (actually aluminum cans) in it so the recycler takes everything to get the aluminum. This makes for quite a savings for the city as they don’t have to pay for all that volume to go to a landfill. They claimed our city of 400,000 people saves over $100K a year.

If the cap of the bottle can be screwed back on tightly enough, I’d recommend reusing it. Just wash it thoroughly in between uses, and it’s good for everything from storing spices to carrying a drink around on long outings. Or you might be lucky enough to live in or near a state with a bottle bill, which provides an economic incentive to return the bottle to the retailer for a refund of the small mandatory deposit made at the time of purchase. Then the problem of sanitizing and reusing the bottle is passed on to an authority with probably better equipment than the typical home kitchen is likely to have. On another note, I’ve often suspected that states with bottle bills tend to have fewer shards of broken glass littering their streets, but so far I haven’t found any data to back it up.

This is a fallacious “reason” to recycle. We generate a lot of trash, yeah, but the country is so fucking enormous that we’re not going to be surrounded by mountains of it, not even for millennia.

Why would I want to reuse a glass bottle when I have plenty of safer, lighter plastic ones?

What if you’re using rockets?

All US Home Depot, Lowe’s and Ace Hardware locations now accept CFLs for recycling, I’m told.

Maybe this usage doesn’t apply to you, but I’m partial to preparing individual servings of iced tea by pouring hot water from the office water dispenser over tea bags in glass jars with a tightly fitting lid, and then refrigerating them after steeping is finished and sweeteners are added. Try doing that with a plastic bottle (one as light as what you had in mind, not a thick-walled version designed for such uses), and let me know how it holds up.

If you take the trash out of your house instead of letting it pile up and living in it, you’re an environmentalist already. Whether or not you’ve generalized that behavior to the larger world is a different issue.

What ever happened to the anti excessive packaging movement? Where are the greens when you need them? I hate the packaging WalMart wants to use for my Lisinopril. They are a blue plastic box that if you press in the right place you can pull a card out. The card has 30 pills each in its individual blister. So when I want to load my pilltainer for the week along with everything else, I have to punch out 7 of the Lisinopril pills, 4-5 of which go on the floor. As much as I dislike the packaging, I resent WalMart’s efforts to ram it down my throat. Wonder why their sales are down? Could it be that they don’t stock half the stuff they used to and their customer be damned attitude?

The first time I refilled it, I asked if I could have it in a bottle like everything else. I was told sure, and they would put it into the computer and I would always get it that way. You would think Sam was still running things. Next time, I refilled on line and had my wife pick it up. When she got home with it, it was those (%^&()*&% blue boxes. I took them back and was told it was WalMart’s policy to supply the blue boxes and since they left the counter, I couldn’t exchange them. I have since refilled in person again and gotten them in bottles. So, again I tried on line. Blue boxes again. I refused to take them. I was told they didn’t have loose pills and I could check back next month.

Late breaking news! While composing this, Wal*Mart called and they have a bottle of 90 waiting for me.

Don’t know if anyone has studied glass shards specifically, but there are studies showing litter goes down after a bottle bill. Some info at (obviously, this is a pro-bottle bill site, but they provide references for litter reduction numbers).