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Recycling is not a magic bullet

For a long time, the 4Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle have been used to get us to “go green”.

But there are at least 7Rs:

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Repurpose, Rot and Recycle.


Refuse:

Just say No. The best way to reduce the environmental impact of an object is not to create it in the first place. If we do not buy it then they will not produce it.

Reduce:

Buy only want you need. If you are not going to use it do not get it.

Reuse:

Were possible always get stuff that can be reused and reuse it.

Repair:

It an item is repaired then we do not need to get a new one and with do not have to dispose of it. A win win. The repair café movement is important.

Repurpose:

If we no longer need an item for its original purpose that can it be used in some other way and given a new lease of life. The in phrase for this is upcycle but that does not start with an R.

Rot:

When an item gets to the end of its life. If it is properly biodegradable, then we can give it to nature to recycle it. The emphasis is on properly biodegradable. See my earlier article “Is plastic ever really biodegradable?”.

There are two good ways to rot things, first as compost and the other is via biodigesters. Biodigesters have the advantage they produce carbon enteral energy. So if you have the choice, it’s probably better to send to a biodigester.

A not so good way to use Rot as a way of disposal is just to give it to nature to let it handle your waste.  If this is just throwing an apple core away during a walk this is probably OK.  But normally this is littering. But if the item littered is properly biodegradable then is will be less of problem as nature will eventually take care of it.

If you have the choice should you rot or recycle? This choice only applies, I think, to paper and cardboard. If it is good quality, then I think it will best recycled. But, if poor quality or contaminated with food then rot. 

Recycle:

The last on the list


Recycling is not a magic bullet

Many people think if they recycle then they have done their bit for saving the planet. But doing some recycling will not on its own stop the climate crisis. The climate crisis is caused by us putting green houses gases into the atmosphere. In general recycling does reduce the carbon footprint but not by much. There are many things you can do that will reduce your carbon footprint more than by recycling. But you should do them all. See my Climate Breakdown what I can do slides.

Recyclable is a word I hate. Making packaging recyclable will not solve the blue planet problem. The blue planet problem is a problem of littering. If all the plastic now in the oceans had been put in land fill or incinerated, it would not be in the oceans.

To put it simply:

Earth Day 22nd April

is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day

Earth Day 2020 will be far more than a day. It must be a historic moment when citizens of the world rise up in a united call for the creativity, innovation, ambition, and bravery that we need to meet our climate crisis and seize the enormous opportunities of a zero-carbon future.

For more information see earthday.org

How does The Centre for Alternative Technology(CAT) Zero Carbon Britain scenario compare to other models for getting to net zero? Cat's Philip James compares the key changes, choices and technologies from Zero Carbon Britain with the Committee on Climate Change’s ‘Further Ambition’ scenario.

This is from Cat's Clean Slate magazine

Biochar is essentially charcoal made under carefully controlled conditions. By burning carbon-rich compounds in the absence of air (pyrolysis), the volatile and non-carbon components are burnt off, leaving much of the carbon behind as a solid ‘char’.

This has particular properties that make it valuable as a means of storing carbon, especially in the soil. It has been found in stable condition after thousands of years, making biochar a potentially useful tool in carbon sequestration and storage.

Biochar can be made from any readily available carbon source, e.g. wood and agricultural residues such as rice husks, nut shells and beet tops, and the quality of this source material (feedstock) partly determines the properties of the biochar. For example, if the feedstock is nutrient-rich, so will be the char. By-products of pyrolysis include a biogas and a tar, both of which have useful applications.

This description of Biochar comes from The Centre for Alternative Technology's Zero Carbon Britain Report Section 3.6.3 Capturing carbon. See their report for the full details and references.

There are two events on Biochar coming up in the region. select on the image below for more details.

We are giving a talk on The Centre for Alternative Technology(CAT) new Zero Carbon Report. This will be at 30th March at 8pm.

Due to the Virus Emergency this talk will now be online.

Zoom will be used for this talk. The Zoom link is https://zoom.us/j/544847254 .

For details of how to use Zoom see here.

The slides are available here.

For the full report and lost more information and resources see CAT's own website.

The Centre for Alternative Technology(CAT) has release a new Zero Carbon Report. This major 200 page report shows how Britain become carbon neutral. A modern, zero-emissions society is possible using technology available today.

For the full report and lost more information and resources see CAT's own website.

I would urge all of you to read this report.

40% of UK carbon emissions come from households. Get active - 10 things you can do now that will make a difference.

  • Make sure lights are switched off and doors are closed in rooms that are not being used.
  • Put on an extra jumper and turn your heating thermostat down by 2 degrees.
  • Have a ‘no car day’ once a week.
  • Talk about climate change with family, friends and work colleagues.  Share your thoughts and ideas.
  • Create a wildlife friendly garden, encourage bees, birds and other wildlife. Don’t use pesticides or herbicides, look for eco friendly alternatives.
  • Support local wildlife trusts/groups.
  • Think twice before buying clothes or goods - do you really need them?  Malvern Repair Cafe can repair most things for a donation. 
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle everything where possible.  Request non plastic packaging on your online purchases. Malvern and Worcester have a shop to refill your household cleaners, soaps and dried foods, bring your own containers.
  • Buy local foods wherever possible. We are lucky to have Greenlink in Great Malvern and Natural Choice in Barnards Green that sell local produce. Cut down on your meat eating.
  • Be positive, you can make a difference.