February 9, 2014
by Peggy
Comments Off on Refuse It! Just Say No to Plastic Dry-Cleaning Bags

Refuse It! Just Say No to Plastic Dry-Cleaning Bags

In 2005, not long after I had made a New Year’s resolution to stop accepting plastic shopping bags, I decided my family didn’t need plastic on any of our dry cleaning either. If you are keen to live more sustainably, … Continue reading

April 18, 2013
by Peggy
Comments Off on Ethane Crackers are Unsavory

Ethane Crackers are Unsavory

Have you ever heard the term “ethane cracker”? Far from the familiar crunchy snack that may spring to mind, an ethane cracker is a type of hydrocarbon processor that breaks oil and gas into smaller molecules, creating ethylene, the monomer … Continue reading

February 24, 2013
by Peggy
Comments Off on Water Bottle Rundown

Water Bottle Rundown

I’ve been doing a lot of research recently on reusable water bottle options, and thought it was worthwhile sharing. Many of us have already adopted a reusable tumbler or water bottle that we bring along with us every day. So … Continue reading

February 20, 2013
by Peggy
Comments Off on Know Your Plastics: Melamine

Know Your Plastics: Melamine

Melamine is notorious because it was the cause of fatal poisoning and sickening of many American pets in 2007.  Chinese manufacturers added melamine to corn gluten, wheat gluten and rice protein to fake higher protein levels in their products for … Continue reading

January 31, 2013
by Peggy
Comments Off on Know Your Plastics: #3 Vinyl (Polyvinyl Chloride, PVC)

Know Your Plastics: #3 Vinyl (Polyvinyl Chloride, PVC)

Polyvinyl Chloride is a polymer made from chlorine and ethylene. Although it is a hard plastic, it can be softened by adding chemicals called plasticizers. This pliant plastic, widely used in packaging, is familiar to many of us by its … Continue reading

December 11, 2012
by Peggy
Comments Off on Book Recommendation: “Plastic Free, How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too”

Book Recommendation: “Plastic Free, How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too”

I’ve just finished reading Beth Terry’s new book, an inspiring guide to rethinking our plastic-laden lives. Plastic is an amazing invention—-so light! so resilient! so malleable! But the fact is, we’ve gone way overboard with this material. I won’t argue … Continue reading

December 5, 2012
by Peggy
Comments Off on Virginia needs a container deposit law

Virginia needs a container deposit law

I live in Charlottesville. It’s a beautiful part of central Virginia, but the state doesn’t have a container deposit system in place. Having lived in states where they do have deposits, let me tell you: you notice the difference right … Continue reading

October 12, 2012
by Peggy
Comments Off on Know Your Plastics: What is the PlantBottle?

Know Your Plastics: What is the PlantBottle?

Bioplastics can be confusing because we aren’t all chemists and we’re happy to gather from a quick glance that a brand we buy is making some kind of effort regarding the environment.  According to a 2010 Beveragepulse survey cited by … Continue reading

Plastic Bottles: “Endless Possibilities” or Endless Liabilities?

August 27, 2012 by Peggy | Comments Off on Plastic Bottles: “Endless Possibilities” or Endless Liabilities?

Really? Bill McDonough, famed co-author of “Cradle to Cradle,” stumping for Nestle? I happened across this promotional video for Nestle Waters yesterday, and was dumbstruck:

In the video, a series of young people hold an instantly recognizable plastic water bottle in their hands. But the bottle is empty, apparently worthless. Then Bill McDonough tells us that what he sees is not an empty bottle, but a vessel of endless possibilities! Yes, that water bottle is a valuable resource.

We at Brng.it see that Nestle PET bottle as an almost completely unnecessary waste of valuable resources to begin with. Apart from emergency situations, there is little justification for the production of plastic bottles of water.  We can’t do a better job of explaining why than Annie Leonard does, in her excellent video, “The Story of Bottled Water,” so please watch it.

Bill McDonough rightly points out that bottles can (sometimes) be made into more bottles, or into fleece and carpet. But then what, Bill?  Plastics recycling is by and large a so-called “open loop” system. Plastics get about one more use before going to the landfill or incinerator.  The plain fact is that most plastic doesn’t ever get recycled. And worse yet, far too much gets into the environment, where it will never go away. We have scarcely begun to acknowledge this, let alone deal with the ramifications (see video below).

The most appalling thing about the Nestle video is the way it suggests that, hey, maybe consumers should consider recycling their plastic water bottles. Why do we find this so infuriating?  It’s because the most effective means of getting PET bottles recycled–if that’s the goal– is to require refundable bottle deposits.  Significant deposits, like the 10 cents per bottle currently being considered nationally in Australia. Yet Nestle, Coke and Pepsi, the big three water bottlers, staunchly oppose bottle deposit legislation.

Just this year, the state of Massachusetts planned to update its 30-year-old bottle deposit law. The legislation was wildly popular, with a poll indicating 77% of the public agreed that water bottles, juice bottles and sports drink bottles should all be added to the existing deposit law.  But in early July, at around the time Nestle released their “Endless Possibilities” video, lobbyists for Nestle, Coke, Pepsi, Ocean Spray and Polar Beverages of New England were actively pressuring legislators to reject the updated bottle bill for Massachusetts, claiming that it would decrease their profits. And they were successful.

Where Nestle and Bill McDonough see endless possibilities, we see endless and intolerable liabilities for people and the planet.

Don’t drink the bottled water, #BYOR!

 

August 23, 2012
by Peggy
Comments Off on Know Your Plastics: #1 PET

Know Your Plastics: #1 PET

Plastic #1.  PET or PETE, sometimes now also rPET (containing some recycled content) is short for Polyethylene Terephthalate.  Most plastic soda and water bottles are made of PET, as are many food containers.  Although ten U.S. states have bottle deposit … Continue reading