Paper / Cardboard Rubbish ..., 11°

Matt V. 25°

I recently went to visit some friends, and they were *burning* their paper rubbish, allegedly 'for the environment', the alternative I guess being that it goes in the landfill ...

Is burning your paper and cardboard rubbish really a good idea? Wouldn't recycling be a better idea?

11 replies

Matthew W. 541°

Good point - personally I'd think it would be a good idea to recycle... but then maybe buying kindling to light your fire does more harm than burning...? Does anyone have any info on this?

Written in June 2008

You can shred cardboard and add it to your compost heap. It would also make a good mulch... I never use my fireplace and I think my city has banned home fireplaces because of air quality, I'll look into it.

Written in June 2008

2 people think this is a cool reply

Leslie B. 227°

A lot of paper and cardboard products are treated with chemicals and such. It's never a good idea to burn them.

Written in June 2008

Ian A.

recycling is the bst option easiest on the environment..my idea is to invent things to use paper which will save lives ..Eg
www.amora8.com

Written in June 2008

That depends whether you're just burning it in the back yard, or burning it for heat in a fireplace. If you're using it for heat, then you're reducing your gas or electricity use, and that would be good for the environment.
Generally speaking incineration is better than landfill as a waste disposal method. If you have absolutely no way of recycling paper, which you might if you live in a rural area, then burning your trash is probably better than burying it in the ground.

Written in June 2008

1 person thinks this is a cool reply

When I was homeless, anything that could be burnt was burnt in order to provide heat. Cardboard and paper were used to start the fire, but cooking was done over wood (not plywood). There's chemicals in just about everything. I never worried about chemicals when I was homeless and cold. It was far more dangerous for me to be wet and cold than breathing in a few glue fumes. So I think there is a time and a place for burning your paper and cardbard rubbish rather than recycle them (especially if your community doesn't recycle). Like everything else, you need to find that right balance of when to burn and when to recycle.

Written in June 2008

Im not sure about the kindling problem, but I had heard through Terranova (an educational trust involved in large-scale reuse/recycling in Christchurch, NZ) that much of our recycled paper is shipped from NZ to countries that have de-inking plants (mainly China I believe). New Zealand does not have a plant to remove these potentially toxic dyes from our paper before reuse. I would think that this is counter-intuitive considering the transport costs associated; sure I understand that, again, it is due to financial constraints. This is similar to glass recycling in NZ ........ I feel somewhat letdown to know that even as I try to do my bit, someone somewhere is counting those beans and it is always about MONEY!

Written in June 2008

Charles M. 110°

The answer is.... "it depends".

That seems to be the answer to almost all environmental questions because there is no one global solution to any problem. By trying to have a single one-size-fits-all solution we can cause more problems than we solve.

Ask yourself these questions:
* Where does the cardboard/paper go to be recycled? Depending on where you live it might stored up and then shipped overseas to be reprocessed elsewhere. If the stuff gets wet in storage, or they cannot find a buyer, then it just ends up in the landfill. If it gets wet in shipping it likely gets dumped in the ocean.

* If you can compost it (worms love it!) then at least you know it is going to do some good.

* Burning for fuel is not too bad.

Written in July 2008

The Ecology Club at Paint Branch Montessori School in Maryland have been exploring the difference between REUSING, REDUCING and RECYCLING. Here's what we think:

REUSING leads to REDUCING. These two are superior to RECYCLING. Recycling is INFERIOR because it requires an individual to collect, transport, deposit. It requires a recycling company to energize equipment that transforms the substrate to one form and then reprocesses into another. Then the new form returns to the production cycle and gets marketed, packaged, transported, etc.

REUSING the product cuts out all that wasted energy. Use you imagination about how to reuse the cardboard. Ask your kids or your neighbor's kids. Read "Christina Katerina and the Box."

From a technological perspective, WHAT IF your town/city/county/state could throw the cardboard in a machine that directly converted it to electricity that energized the town lights or road signs or better yet parking lots with outlets that charge parked electric vehicles? Ask me about this, SOWINERGY

Written in July 2008

C Robb W. 444°

To put Terry's point a bit more simply;
recycling is a failure to reuse which is a failure to reduce

I say compost it, building good soil is one of the most direct and effective methods individuals have to sequester carbon.

Also, burning anything in an open fireplace rarely saves on heating costs as it tends to pull in outside air to create the draft up the chimney, this cools down the house while heating only the bodies huddled in front of it. If one is going to burn with biomass of any kind it should be in a highly efficient stove at high temps with some sort of thermal storage and controlled air flow input. Inefficient combustion, as in a low temp fireplace, produces more pollutants than a well designed system.

Written in August 2008

Theo M.

Burning of papers may damage the climate so one, it should be recycled or two, can also be upcycled to make some cool décor like this Japanese artist did by using the newspapers to upcycle them to make a origami dress. Just have a look at this and have your say. http://www.gtrecycling.com/faq/recycling/an-upc...

Written in August 2010

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