Paper / Cardboard Rubbish ...,

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?

5 replies

Matthew W. 471°

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

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

C Robb W. 429°

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

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