• Chris Jeavans
  • 22 Aug 08, 01:28 PM GMT

Cheap buying is dear buying, as the old Lancashire saying goes. But I ignored it earlier in the summer when I bought a £15 pair of sandals which have now, unsurprisingly, fallen apart.

broken_shoes203.jpgThey are definitely uncobblable so I'm on the hunt for another pair - and I do need them as I'm not a shoe queen with hundreds stashed in the wardrobe.

The old pair had leather uppers with plastic heels and soles, a popular and economical combination for High Street shoes.

You can get footwear made totally from leather, but, as with many of the other non-plastic products I have looked at, this in no way equates to being "greener".

Leather tanning tends to be an environmentally taxing process, involving large amounts of hazardous chemicals and chromium salts.

However, some eco shoe manufacturers now offer leather which has been tanned in other ways.

worn_again203.jpgLondon-based Terra Plana uses chrome-free and vegetable tanned leathers.

Under its Worn Again brand, the company also recycles materials from as diverse sources as seat belts, parachutes and blankets and turns these into new shoes.

US company Simple sells shoes soled with old car tyres and tied with recycled polyester laces.

And earlier this year sports shoe giant Adidas brought out its Grun range which makes use of recycled materials and easily renewable fabrics such as bamboo and hemp.

Natural rubber (latex) is also popular with several shoe firms. London-based Ethletic claims to the be the first in the world to use fairly traded Forest Stewardship Council certified rubber for its flip-flops and canvas shoes.

As for unwanted pairs of old shoes, those in reasonable condition can be recycled either at council shoe banks or by donating them to charity shops.

But for a more radical approach, Nike's reuse-a-shoe scheme gives cast-off trainers (of any brand) a new lease of life as playground and sports track surfaces.

But my broken pair of cheapo sandals are not suitable for reuse or even grinding down so they will have to be binned. Cheap buying is indeed dear buying.

Plastic I have accumulated this week:

  • One disposable cup at a picnic

  • One fork at a barbeque

  • Two drinking straws (child's drink)

  • One punnet of strawberries and a carrier bag. My husband went out for a paper last Sunday morning and came back with these. I almost didn't let him back in the house! He did look very sheepish and said he had simply forgotten.

  • Four takeaway trays. We ordered from our local Thai place which used to use foil cartons. Turns out they have switched to plastic. They also threw in a plastic bag of prawn crackers and a free soft drink (bottle of water). It was all very delicious however.

  • 13 disposable nappies containing corn-starch based plastic. An increase on last week and seems to indicate that I probably didn't buy enough reusable nappies in the first place as I am still having trouble getting them washed and dried. Maybe mix and match is the best I can do on this front.


  • Comment number 1.

    well done Chris, you've had another successful week. Your husband's 'slip up' is just human nature at its best..........

    I think you've learned a valuable lesson that we all need to be more aware of too, with your sandals buying.

    Something that I think about a lot, whenever I hear people complain about how expensive something is, is that maybe we should question why things are so 'cheap'.

    There is often a hidden cost that we need to figure out before making a purchasing decision.....

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Chris,

    Weeky counts are part of the waste reduction lifestyle. They help identify areas of weakness for which you can search out alternatives. But it is more difficult with a young family.

    Our local Indian curry house gives out plastic recyclable boxes for take-away meals. It might be worth phoning beforehand.

  • Comment number 3.

    You could try abarcas - I wore these for two summers and in the house during the autmn and winter, they have recycled tyres as soles, and some use recycled materials/eco leather for the uppers. Try this?

  • Comment number 4.

    This is a favourite of mine: Recycle your Shoes at Softwalker - a UK shoe company.
    I sent them a pair of my old jeans in April last year, the sandles I got back are on their second summer and likely to last another two. Before you comment on the weather last year and this year, I wear them around the house as well because they're darn comfortable. I can stick them in the washing machine as well and they come out none the worse for it.

    Unfortunately they do have plastic in the soles, and the bag the company sends you to post your jeans to them in is made of plastic, so maybe leave it until your month is over.
    But they are still pretty good value for money in terms of lifespan.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Chris!

    Great effort on your weekly count. Keeps me inspired for my own!

    Your ideas for 'greener' shoe buying are informative too. I appreciate your point about not being a 'shoe queen'. I think it is really important that environmental endeavours like your experiment highlight that reducing our accumulation of things (plastic or not) is so significant in terms of our overall impact.

    On takeaway: my local is happy to use my tuppaware that I bring in. Usually they can prepare my order in about 10-15 minutes. So if you've got the time to wait for it, you can have disposable-free (whether plastic or foil) takeaway. And, it usually means i get a bit extra, since my containers are a bit bigger than theirs! :)

  • Comment number 6.

    Why on earth are you throwning away reusable plastics??? Surely the point of the exercise is to REUSE as much as you can as well as reduce and recycle?

    The plastic straws, containers and bags are all reuseable so you have IMO defeated hugely a serious objective that I thought you were setting out to do.

    I have got loads of plastic containiers from our local takeaways - I reuse them for freezing foods, storing foodstuffs in the fridge and my children have plastic straws that we first bought as a pack of 50 about 6 yrs ago and we simply rinse them through and put them in the drawer for the next time.

    The carrier bag alone is totally reusable - I use carrier bags to ensure all other plastics are containied in one place and make it easier for our binmen to put into the recling lorry. I am the only person in a street of 20 or so families who doesnt have their palstic rubbish blowing out of the boxes every week because it is neatly contained in a bag. Also it means I do not have to worry about finding a bag in a hurry to put shopping in.

    Likewise you were wondering what to put drinks into - hello, what about the plastic bottle that your soft drink came in? There are many items of clothing that you can buy in supermarkets that are labelled as having been made from those plastic bottles as well - I bought 3 fleeces for my children a few days ago from Tesco, all of which had a lable on them stating they were made from recycled pop bottles.

    Perhaps you need to go back through the plastics you have accumulated thus far and take a long look at them individually to see how they can be reused over and again, thereby reducing the plastics you may accumulate in the future and achiving your goal of zero-waste in the long term.

  • Comment number 7.

    #6 Vik Evans
    Those are all useful points but I didn't say I was throwing them away, I said I had accumulated them - which breaks the terms of the experiment to acquire no new plastic.

    The disposable nappies, however, are going in the bin...

  • Comment number 8.

    I am disappointed you have not replied to my question from a couple of days ago. Perhaps that is not how blogs work but I would have been interested to hear your reply.

    As I said, I am off on holyday and the blog will be over by the time I get back.
    I shall miss the riveting plastic v wooden tooth brush, plastic packaging v no packaging debate.
    A parting bit of info and a suggestion for you.

    The info
    If you take a barrel of crude oil
    70% goes to diesel or fuel oil
    12% petrol
    5% plastic (of which 2% goes to packaging)
    3% industrial products
    10% other items

    The suggestion.
    If you want to make a difference.
    Do a blog on how to save energy and how to avoid using your car .
    For instance I hope you did not drive to that picnic or to get that early morning pint of milk, and how did you get to Stafford and Garstang? You cycled and made the whole family do the same I hope.
    If not, sadly, all the plastic you and all the contributors to this blog saved will make not a jot of difference to anything.

    Have a great life Chris and a special goodbye to johnhcrf, keep taking the tablets, you will eventually find a cure.

  • Comment number 9.


    That was funny, Joe, better than the rant you gave earlier. I do not need tablets to help me spread the good word about Zero Waste.

  • Comment number 10.

    Thank you for replying Chris.

    Of the plastic you have accumulated, how much of it is being disposed of and what items are you keeping to use again?

    It would be very interesting to know how much you are entering into the recycle and reuse chains, as against those items which clearly cannot go into either category.

    second hand nappies anyone? LOL!

  • Comment number 11.

    I can't stop wondering why an 18 month old needs nappies of whatever kind. I'm absolute sure s/he is old enough to go without. As for the next little one, there are ways of not using nappies at all. Check

  • Comment number 12.

    The thing about plastic is that it lasts almost forever ...
    I don't have a car, I bike around. But I still try not to consume plastic bags. If I really could consume them it'd be fine, but they're not that biodegradable :)

  • Comment number 13.

    Giving up plastic all at once is a task in itself - it takes time and shopping habits need to change. . Over the last year I have been boycotting plastic but my goal is not just to say no but to source plastic free alternatives. Going plastic free is not a hair shirt thing but a viable option. Or in some case not. In some cases plastic may well be the best packaging option but not to the excessive extent that we use it.
    My reason for doing what I do is to decide, what I think needs to be plastic wrapped and what is just nasty rubbish creation. I have managed to find plastic free alternatives to many products, my bin is much emptier and when I read about the scary and revolting trash votrex I know that I am trying to do something about plastic pollution.

  • Comment number 14.

    You can always do the logical thing... Don't wear shoes!

    I go everywhere bare foot and have been doing for years.

  • Comment number 15.


    What about 'Crocs?' You can research them on line. My understanding is that they are made from some organic material. I love mine and have had them for almost five years.

  • Comment number 16.

    @ aquarizonagal -- five years?

    I bought a pair of Crocs last Spring and one of the soles wore through about a month ago. Mind you, I had worn them *a lot*, over various surfaces; they certainly didn't owe me much.

  • Comment number 17.

    "What about 'Crocs?' You can research them on line. My understanding is that they are made from some organic material."

    Yup. Plastic is organic. It's mainly long carbon chains with hydrogens attached. That's why you learn about it in Organic Chemistry.

    I suspect, however, that you are using the word 'organic' to mean 'good, green, environmental...', as opposed to 'evil, chemical, capitalist...'. Chris Jeavans seems so hopelessly confused between the two that she is rejecting some leather for other leather which she is told does 'not use nasty chemicals'...As if!!

    Perhaps she could try to spend a month without metal next? Makes as much sense as what she's doing....

  • Comment number 18.


    You are mistaken. The problems of plastic waste, in all its guises, are being highlighted on Chris's blog. This is a valuable contribution to the debate about the future of this material.

    We can also see the various vested interests who are resisting the necessary changes to current practice for financial gain rather than environmental concerns.

  • Comment number 19.


    Them vs. Us, Us vs. Them....
    How coveniently black and white!

    If only it was that simple.
    You really have not listened to anything anybody has said, have you.

  • Comment number 20.


    Just because you do not like my point of view, does not mean, in any way, that my views, and like-minds, are not better than your waste attitudes.

    How much home bin waste do you put out every week/bi-week?

  • Comment number 21.


    Sorry, I dont actaully measure it as I have no need to. I know I do all I can to minimise waste and recycle as much as possible in my LA.

    It's not a competition. We aren't awarding gold stars for the lowest output when achieving it means being ignorant of the wider environmental impacts of your crusade.

    Views are not based on 'better' or 'worse' than comparisons. Views are simply that, views. Evidence, facts and science are something completely different.

  • Comment number 22.


    Reducing waste is an admirable passtime. Part of this is better food usage, using recycling to the max, and finally removing the last bastion of rubbish, derived from an unthinking chain of waste, namely plastic packaging.

    Consumers are avoiding this waste material in increasing numbers, to encourage change. Why are you unwilling to join in with the required changes?

  • Comment number 23.

    To #16Ajsdy

    My goodness! What were you walking on and how many miles did you walk? I should have clarified that I have three pair and don't wear the same ones every day. Also I must not walk as much as you. Maybe the newer Crocs are not as good.


    I am not a scientist so my use of the word 'organic' may have been incorrect. I am not anti-plastic, just concerned about how it is used/discarded or recycled. I like my Crocs because they are comfortable to wear!

  • Comment number 24.

    "I am not anti-plastic, just concerned about how it is used/discarded or recycled. I like my Crocs because they are comfortable to wear!"

    My congratulations to aquarizonagal, who seems to be making practical decisions based on enlightened and informed self-interest...

    " my views, and like-minds, are ... better than your waste attitudes....We can also see the various vested interests who are resisting the necessary changes to current practice for financial gain rather than environmental concerns...Why are you unwilling to join in with the required changes?"

    My comiserations to johnhcrf, who apparently believes that everyone else's views are worse than johnhcrf's, that anyone who opposes johnhcrf has an ulterior capitalist motive, and that it is 'required' for all to conform to johnhcrf's view of the world...

  • Comment number 25.


    As usual my questions remanin unanswered.
    What is your interest in this rivetting topic?
    Plastic packaging?

    Yuo have to realise that I do not speak only for myself. Zero Waste is worldwide. What can a few naysayers do to prevent this growing movement?

  • Comment number 26.

    #25 - 'You have to realise that I do not speak only for myself. Zero Waste is worldwide. What can a few naysayers do to prevent this growing movement?'

    1. That's 'Zero waste to landfill as a result of your direct purchasing and disposal choices', not 'Zero waste'.
    2. It patently isn't worldwide.
    3. 'A few naysayers'? Look around you. There's a handful of people who think that not putting anything in the bin = zero waste. There's a similar number of people who realise that it is a bit more complicated than this. The other 90+% of the population? Are concerned about recycling, by and large, but probably aren't anywhere near your zero waste ideals.

  • Comment number 27.


    Personal Zero Waste targets are a way to reduce the impact of waste generally. I am reducing my binbags from 100 to 1 in 4-5 years. Think of the reduction if all householders did the same, where practicable.

    This will influence others in the chain of waste to reconsider their processes.

    It is worldwide just google to see.

    I am ahead of the majority in this, agreed. It is the way forward as increasing numbers are finding out. Consumers have to take the lead in this as no one else will.

  • Comment number 28.

    If carrier bags claim to take a thousand years to decompose. Could someone please explain why some carrier bags which are five years old and used for Xmas decs in stored in the loft get distingrated? The bags are some sports shop ones.

  • Comment number 29.

    #27 - johnhcrf

    What you are doing doing is reducing your personal contribution to landfill. You are not reducing the waste upstream as a result of your changes. Neither are you reducing waste when classified as energy used to produce and deliver your new choices.

  • Comment number 30.

    #28 - pinkfloydareace

    I am guessing but perhaps your carrier bags are "oxybiodegradable"? Certain retailers use a heavy metal (I think) based additive that works as a pro-oxidant to accelerate the degradation of the polymer.

    Basicall the [degradation] clock starts ticking they day the film is produced. Varying amounts of additive give varying degradation times, but typicall about 4-5 years is the norm'.

    Perhpas your "sports retailer" is one of the ones using this a "green initiative". Tesco and Co-Op are two others I know of.

    It's worth pointing out that Soil Association does not sanction this additives use and it is not certified to EN13432, the EU standard for biodegradability.

  • Comment number 31.


    Landfill reduction by maiking sustainable choices should be the goal of every householder. This will help retailers adapt to a better future.

    Reducing waste will also counter the trend to incineration, a thing the public do not want.

  • Comment number 32.

    #31 - johnhcrf

    I was actually replying to the 'pink floyd fan'. However I would be intrigued to hear your views on oxybiodegradable plastics?

  • Comment number 33.


    I choose not to use plastic bags as part of Zero Waste. This is quite practical as cloth bags are long lasting alternatives.

    My interest in plastic items is to use anaerobic bacteria to deal with the small amounts in my bin waste. When this occurs my bin waste will be Zero.

  • Comment number 34.

    #33 - johnhcrf

    But what are your thoughts on oxybiodegradable plastics? I am genuinely interested to know?

  • Comment number 35.


    I choose to avoid plastic bags on principle. There are new developments but I do not need to use them and my advice to others is to use non-plastic bags.

  • Comment number 36.


    So you don't have a view that you can discuss in isolation of your zero waste beliefs?

  • Comment number 37.


    Anything that takes people off message, side issues, is a distraction from the main aim.

    How do you see the future? Is it the chain of waste and 100 incinerators?

  • Comment number 38.


    You cannot discuss waste reduction without discussing all of the "side issues" that are intrinsicly linked the main show. We have gone round in a circles on a number the "side issues" such as landfill, EfW, CHP, Food Waste etc and Oxo-biodegrdables are another mooted solution for plastics. I was genuinely interested in your view, but hey.......

  • Comment number 39.


    I see you cannot venture a future scenario. That is revealing. I would prefer to work towards no incinerators and no chain of Waste. Can you argue with this choice?

  • Comment number 40.


    I have been through my "future scenario" in some detail on numerous posts so far. With all due respect - I am re-typing it all for you.

    Go read it.

  • Comment number 41.


    Is your answer Yes or No to my post 39?

  • Comment number 42.



    As I and several others have done on numerous occasions so far. If you want to go round in circles I see little point in my continuing.

  • Comment number 43.


    My answer is No. I want neither of those two. We will just have to agree to differ.

  • Comment number 44.

    You can tan leather with dog poo which I guess is a sort of recycling as well!

  • Comment number 45.

    well good leather shoes will last through winter and summer if chosen properly, and confortably.

  • Comment number 46.

    A good pair of Havaianas are also not bad, they are not plastic they are rubber :)

    "best rubber sandal in the world,"

  • Comment number 47.

    To: Johnncrf

    I understand your passion for your beliefs. I have even defended and tried to support you in some of my prior posts. I AM also trying to reduce MY waste.

    However, you have been dominating this blog and criticizing people who are trying to share scientific knowledge and others who are trying to share their ideas for making a better environment. Your comments have grown tiresome, at least for me, and may be intimidating to others who have something else to say but are shy of your 'attack dog' attitude. Please give other opinions some respect.

  • Comment number 48.

    Addendum to Johnhcrf

    You pointed out to me that my concerns regarding water should best be utilized at another blog. Perhaps your passion for Zero Waste would also benefit from another outlet.
    I do respect your opinions but would like to see less rhetoric and more practical ideas!

  • Comment number 49.


    I have not told you that I am sorry about your shoes. When you have a comfortable pair that you like, it is hard to let them go.

    From the picture, I doubt they can be recycled, so will have to be added to waste. You have done so well. Only about a week left to go. It will be interesting to see the 'before and after' pictures of your plastic for a comparison.

    You have done a commendable thing in bringing all of us together to share ideas and to learn new things. I, for one, thank you!

  • Comment number 50.


    The end of the month long avoidance of plastic will show to readers what waste reduction can be achieved. We are more experienced in this regard but there will be many who will be surprised by the results.

    Hopefully others will try and succeed in their efforts.

  • Comment number 51.

    #50 - johnhcrf

    With one week left to go I would suggest you drop the one dimensional preaching and start constructively contributing to the debate. Take more time to actually listen, understand and reflect before firing back the same old "unsustainable chain of waste" mantra.

    Surely even you can now understand how hugely complex this subject is. This blog has been absolutely fantastic in giving people from all sides of the debate a platform and raising awareness of the subject and challenges facing us all in the years ahead.

    Your one-dimensional pursuit of personal ZWTLF is in-part commendable, however your blinkered approach to science and the wider environmental impacts of your material and purchasing decisions is frightening. Start thinking maybe one, two or even three stages back upstream about where the real waste is and what impacts your buying decisions actually have at these stages.

    Finally I would ask that you approach this final week prepared to listen and therefore prepared to actually debate. You have experts in their field on the forum who can probably answer any question you can throw at them. My advice this week would be to use them to your advantage and keep an open mind when reflecting upon what they tell you.

  • Comment number 52.

    To #51 One Who Seems to Really Know a Lot

    Sorry that I changed your user name but your information, as well as that of many others, has been so helpful to me.

    I totally agree with your comments to Johnhcrf.

  • Comment number 53.

    How about keeping this up for a year or 3?

  • Comment number 54.

    As someone who has cut waste to an absolute minimum. I have followed others in their Zero Waste (waste reduction) challenge.

    I must say that none of these concerned individuals have returned to their wasteful previous activities.

    Has anyone come across such an individual?
    He/she would be of great interest to all concerned.

  • Comment number 55.

    It is a pity that you johnhrcf have been able to choke this debate to boring 'tit for tat' discussions.

    It is unfortunate that well informed contributions only have a week to take place, but out of frustration they may not happen. You have managed to disrespect, attack and belittle everyone in the blog that had a different opinion, even if that opinion was to serve the environment and help Chris in her journey.

    You have constantly asked other contributors to answer YOUR questions, but you have refused to answer anyone else's questions that would weaken your position against the opposition (as you call non-Zero Waste members).

    You managed to alienate people from this debate, just to strengthen the general view that ZeroWaste, Inc. belongs to a financially motivated cult corporation, where they must attack and conquer the "opposition".

  • Comment number 56.

    To aquarizonagal #48:
    "You pointed out to me that my concerns regarding water should best be utilized at another blog."

    No, your concerns about water are fine within this topic. Chris posted the "Junk raft meets Savage boat" last week, perhaps to highlight the issues of plastic waste and the oceans. So if you have any concerns I would be happy to engage in debate with you and others in the blog, so perhaps at the end of this week we will all have moved forward on the topic and with perhaps a little more understanding about the environment.

  • Comment number 57.

    #54 johnhcrf

    "You have managed to disrespect, attack and belittle everyone in the blog that had a different opinion." - hydroscooby

    Absolutely. There are intelligent, articulate, informed and responsible individuals taking place in this debate and all you can do is try to demonise them, ignore their well-written, well-referenced responses highlighting the concerns we all have with your attitude towards waste.

    If anyone dares to disagree with your approach you immediately jump to attack them as wasteful and unconcerned with the environment. That they are somehow trying to perpetuate your myth that the plastics industry (and any other packaging material manufacturer) is inherently wasteful and, indeed, revels in this. This highlights your insecurity in your ideas, perhaps?

    I will say, as many others have, your approach is commendable, but mis-informed and completely without insight into the wider picture. In fact, I find your attitude borders on bullying.

  • Comment number 58.


    Thank You. I am an arid land dweller. Every drop of water is precious to me. We do all we can not to waste water and water pollution sickens me.

    Questions I have for you are:
    First, how does the manufacture and recycling of plastics impact our water supply? We have seen what careless dumping of plastic is doing to our oceans. I have read what impact paper mills, chemical plants etc. have on water supplies.

    Second, what can I, personally, do in my daily life to reduce my negative impact. Are there other products besides plastic that I should avoid. I recycle everything I can. I compost and garden organically.

    Anyone else who would like to answer this is welcome. Many of you scientists have a lot more knowledge than I do from just my reading.

  • Comment number 59.


    I wish to see the following:

    Sustainable practices.
    No Incinerators (see Friends of The Earth),
    The end of the chain of waste,
    Zero Waste - a contribution to sustainability.

    Other contributors oppose these ideas.

    Where do you stand?

  • Comment number 60.


    Sustainable practices (YES)

    No incinerators (UNSURE), a case has been made on this blog that incineration can be ecologically clean as well as providing energy I would need more information.

    Ending the waste chain (YES), with reservations regarding the environmental cost of certain recycling practices. Again I need more informantion

    Zero Waste, an admirable goal that I am not sure can be achieved absolutely without other environmental costs which have been pointed out by very knowledgeable posters.

    I don't think that other posters oppose your ideas as much as they may resent the way you present you beliefs. I do respect what you are trying to do but please also be respectful of other's contributions.

  • Comment number 61.


    Some of the posters oppose Zero Waste because it impacts on their plastic packaging industry. Have you not seen plenty of negative posts against the Chris's blog?

    Sustainable packaging is available in the US, SmartCycle. They tend to change quicker than Britain but the change will arrive here despite opposition by die-hards.

    This last week I am not going to discuss anything with the opponents.

  • Comment number 62.

    #61 - johnhcrf

    I had hoped you were going to approach this week with a different attitude, but hey. "I am not going to dicuss anything with the opponents"......

    How interesting will that debate be then.......

  • Comment number 63.

    #61 - johnhcrf

    The availability of 'smartcycle' is irrelevant. All it is is post-consumer waste (PCW) recycled content in plastics. I told you yesterday that the UK leads this area with ever-increasing PCW contents being achieved, thereby ever-reducing virgin consumption.

    Don't look to the US for the lead here when the UK is clearly in front.

  • Comment number 64.

    #61 - johnhcrf

    Check out the latest plant just opened in the UK. Most UK retailers and some brands are taking material from this plant. PCW Recycled contenet is everywhere in the UK right and is only going to grow:-

  • Comment number 65.

    Sorry, forgot to say the only thing barring even faster take up of PCW content in the UK is the lack of feedstock given sketchy LA collection strategies. Given I lead the packaging team for a major UK organisation I can assure you that we simply can't get hold of enough to push up the %'s even higher (50% PCW is typical, but 100% can be achieved in the majority of applications).

    Others such as Lucosade, Ribena and Innocent have achieved 100% recycled content by concentrating their tight supply of feedstock through specific brands / products.

    The UK is importing German, Italian, Polish plastics bottles right now as we just don's have enough feedstock to go around. This seems ridiculous given we only recycle around 35% of our own plastic bottles today!!

    LA's have a lot to answer for. Their response is that "it isn't woth their while collecting them as the material has little or no value due to lack of any established end-market / demand". Frankly I find this outrageous!

  • Comment number 66.

    #58 - aquarizonagal

    An interesting [alleged] fact I heard recently re' water, from a fairly realiable source.

    Coca Cola allegedly use 25ltrs of water to produce just 1ltr of finished / bottled Coke. Apparently the majority of the 25ltrs are rendered unusable by the end of the process.


    I have also heard many others predict the next world war to centre around supply and shortage of water. Take a look at the major rivers of the middle east, including Israel and see who controls them. Scary.

  • Comment number 67.


    I rarely drink that kind of beverage, but if true, what a WASTE of water! I will certainly look into this. I know someone who works in a production plant. If I get any real information, I will post it.

    I have read the same thing and it is scary. There were small 'wars' fought in the Southwestern US over water in our past. I study what people are doing in Australian and African arid lands to grow crops with minimal water. I know that the Israeli's were using drip irrigation more than 40 years ago. There are desalination plants in the Mid East and Africa. I ask the question: (tongue in cheek) After we drink the ocean then what?

  • Comment number 68.

    "Coca Cola allegedly use 25ltrs of water to produce just 1ltr of finished / bottled Coke. Apparently the majority of the 25ltrs are rendered unusable by the end of the process."

    Unlikely. Drinking the coke turns it into 'unuseable water' - urine, but due to the water cycle the water in the urine eventually ends up as rain and we probably drink it a few weeks later.

    Most industrial processes require huge amounts of water - it takes 100 tons of water to make a 1 ton of steel but it returns to the earth.

    The major problems come when we start tampering with the water cycle by diverting rivers. My favourite eco-disaster, the Aral sea, is the perfect example. With the rivers feeding it diverted for cotton crops (and what little reached it was pure fertliser and pesticide) one of the biggest lakes in the world dried up and blew away. That COULD happen with people diverting the rivers in the middle-east and it could easily start a war.

  • Comment number 69.

    #58. aquarizonagal:

    First it is necessary to understand the definition of Plastics, and it's manufacturing procedures. This link offers a good overview

    The manufacture of plastics impact our water supply, from the extraction of oil, and factory disposal methods. Most plastics are made from crude oil, and to extract oil, we often have to drill near shores. The process is very difficult, as one liter of oil can contaminate 25 liters of water, they need to be very careful to avoid spillages. The reverse however, is also true. Water can contaminate oil making it unfit for processing, and economically damage production. The main question would be the impact on surrounding marine life.

  • Comment number 70.

    #69 continued:

    As for the recycling of plastics, it becomes a more complicated theme. The general consensus is that it should be collected and separated. Where the technology is available it should be recycled. The others should be used for energy--I'm careful to say this, but it is a sensible idea, seeing how we need heating during the winter, and time until new fuel technologies become available. Of course this comes from a strict environmental analysis.

    I think in AZ you have heard of the infamous "nalgene" bottle? If so, it might help to know that if you keep it in your car during the summer (yes your summer) your water will taste funny. I don't know if they changed that, but the chemicals/synthesizers were leached into the water at high temperatures. This also happened in the dishwasher, or during a long hike, where my bottle was exposed to the scourging sun. The same principle applies to recycling of plastics into new plastics, the questions to be answered are 1. Does the new product pose a risk to the consumer? Is there a demand?
    2. Is the waste or by-product generated from such process highly toxic? If so, how much treatment would it require before it can be safely disposed?
    3. Can the cost of recycling (facilities, collection, production, waste treatment and disposal) be recovered from revenues of the new product?

  • Comment number 71.

    a little more! I hope this time I can post the links:

    If you have read and understood all of the links I posted, you will have noticed that there is often the chemicals used in these factories, and by products of processed natural resource that contaminates our water. This is a huge problem, because I realized that I am not making an environmentally meaningful decision by choosing a cotton bag, or recycled card box. Both of my choices will involve significant use of chemicals during the processing. It is a problem of industrial waste, and disposal. This has also pushed local councils to establish 'laws' as "Clean water act" and Drinking water standards. In Europe the standards are significantly lower than in the US. However, we are still bound by technology to detect such levels.

  • Comment number 72.

    I am sorry I didn't go into too much details. If you do have time and read the links, you will notice that it is quite a complex issue. If you are really interested in learning about the water issues in the West, read

    I read the above and I think they offer good reliable information. You can also search for scientific community journals if you have access to an university's library.

    Now as far as what you can do as a consumer to minimize your impact are: vote for the right policies. Push your local council to endorse greener schemes. Avoid Golf Courses (have you ever wondered why AZ has the nicest green lush clubs, where the rest of the state looks beige?). Embrace the desert and design your garden accordingly, use eco-friendly soap (especially when camping). Don't buy Spring water! Normal mineral water is just as good, and shop organic (to avoid pesticides going into your groundwater).

  • Comment number 73.

    let's try again. Post #69 continued:

    I found 100 tips to saving water in the desert:

    Interesting to read:

    You can apparently make potato plastic at home:

    Now I'm curious, are you in the Southwest?

  • Comment number 74.

    I'm still not able to post the links. I will try again....

    Some articles I found that may be helpful:
    (Dearth of Ships Delays Drilling of Offshore Oil)

  • Comment number 75.

    And again:

    The following links might shed a light into the manufacturing of plastic and the new emerging technologies available.

  • Comment number 76.

    "Avoid Golf Courses (have you ever wondered why AZ has the nicest green lush clubs, where the rest of the state looks beige?)"

    I avoid golf courses like the plague, mainly because they're filled with boring little men who wear pringle and drive Audi's.

    Az gets most of its water piped in from places like the Hoover dam. If you're running short of drinking water or if the colorado river is drying up then watering a golf course is insanity, but if you're not running out of water then there's little harm. The water sprayed on the greens evaporates, rains on the Rockies and goes straight back into the colorado river.

    A few years back Britain had a lot of very hot, very dry summers so I DID design my garden with more gravel than grass and with spiky palm like plants.... for the past 3 years we've had monsoons all summer. Moral? Don't make knee jerk decisions based on 1 or 2 years weather.

  • Comment number 77.

    I'm starting to dislike this: #69 continued:

    google: J. Hum. Ecol., 20(2): 91-96 (2006)
    Human Health Implications Due to Water Toxicity by
    Pulp and Paper Mill
    Surendra Kumar Yadav
    National Institute of Health and Family Welfare, Munirka, New Delhi

    It was available at Google scholar but the link does not post....

  • Comment number 78.

    no I should apologize for the broken post. It gave me several errors before.

  • Comment number 79.

    #77 hydroscooby

    You might be trying to post a link with an ampersand character (&).

    The BBC message board doesn't like them (they are special characters in HTML), and many links contain them.

    Replace the & with the following:

  • Comment number 80.

    thank you for the tip :)

  • Comment number 81.

    Thank you Hydroscooby!

    I will follow up on all your information. I am in the Southwest desert, elevation approximately 5000 feet, which gives us a little more precipitation than lower elevations.

    We have had a record summer monsoon this year. Our cisterns and stock tanks are full and everything is very green. We have also known drought, when the crops withered and my father had to slaughter stock for lack of water and feed. I do not take water for granted!

    We are doing everything that you mentioned to save water. (I have never been on a golf course in my, almost, eight decades and don't expect to do so!) We also collect rain water and are trying a new kind of intensive gardening that is being used in Africa. This method involves a piled rock container filled with compost. (We have plenty of rocks) We have had to do less watering for yield and have less 'bending for tending' which is easier on old folk.

    I also 'howl' like an old wolf about water on a regular basis but I think I could use the internet more effectively than I have been doing.

  • Comment number 82.

    Note to #66Idontknowmuch

    My source would not exactly confirm your numbers on soda production but did say that the product is produced as a concentrated syrup and then is shipped to bottling plants world wide where water, carbonation and other things are added. UGH!

    A waste of good water, in my opinion!

  • Comment number 83.

    You are welcome aquarizonagal. Thank you for asking, I had a lot of fun thinking about how to craft an answer.

    P.S. the reason I mentioned Golf courses is because when I used to live there, there was a hot debate about the watering of these courses with water from the Colorado River (use your vote and support this cause). And the golf course users/owners didn't want to have 'used' water irrigating their courses.

    I am not American so it drove me crazy to hear people discuss it, and not able to vote.

  • Comment number 84.


    I avoided saying too much about the golf course issue, as I believe that chasing and hitting a small ball with a stick is a pass-time for children. (I am going out of town shortly so, hopefully, will not be 'wacked' by crazed golfers.) I believe that the best personal exercise is vigorous walking and working on the land. Enough said!

    Those urban people do want their golf courses 'green!' I am not sure when you were here but some of the whine about 'used' water may have been a result of a young man in Phoenix, who died after drinking from a golf course irrigation pipe. I believe this was later proved not to be his cause of death but at the time there was great hysteria about the quality of water used for golf courses. I am old and not always well informed so I might have this all wrong.

  • Comment number 85.

    #76 - you're a man after my own hearth :-)

    'Golf - a good walk spoiled'. Mark Twain, wasn't it?

  • Comment number 86.

    #85 - for 'hearth' read 'heart'...:D

  • Comment number 87.


    I can see you are a person of ideas. Why dont you start your anti Zero Waste group. What can we call it:

    Incinerators, Plastic Packaging Waste, Truth (as I see it?) and Waste Management. Maybe you can look up the 'net yourself for a better name.

    It might take-off and have about 2, or 3 members after a few years.

  • Comment number 88.

    #87 - 'anti-Zero Waste group'?

    I'm all for Zero Waste. I also understand the concept and its limitations.

    Do you fully understand the limitations? You still haven't told me where I should take my asbestos cement sheets which I removed from my property [DIY household waste] - if I can't landfill them (Best Practicable Environmental Option - you might want to look up 'BPEO' - it'll help you get a better idea when appraising waste management options), where are they going to go? I await your response with anticipation here.

  • Comment number 89.


    Does anyone else share my lack of interest in the previous poster's rubbish? It certainly bores me rigid.

    I am a Zero Waste enthusiast who has achieved 99% reduction in home bin waste. I urge all consumers to take up the challenge to reach a sustainable amount of waste. It may not be possible for all consumers to reach my level but all good efforts are welcomed.

  • Comment number 90.


    Asbestos is a special kind of waste, not really part of our Zero Waste drive. Splitting hairs over minutiae just wastes time.

    There are special instructions for such waste. DEFRA has full details.

  • Comment number 91.

    #90 - Ahh. A 'special type of waste'. That's handy, isn't it! [You'll find that there is no such classification as 'Special' waste now - we've reverted to the use of the term 'Hazardous'. Any material containing more than 0.1% asbestos fibre is likely to fall into this classification. Not just building board, but also certain types of coating material - including Artex.]

    Any idea how much of this 'special type of waste' is encapsulated in asbestos cement and present in buildings in this country? Including domestic buildings.

    Here's a clue. Lots. On board alone we landfilled an estimated 200kt in 2005.

    We have a big legacy here.

    Care to rethink your 'No Landfill' strategy? Because the Best Practicable Environmental Option for this material is - landfill...

    BTW - I think you'll find that the regulatory body for dealing with the disposal of this material is the EA, not DEFRA. You'd be best off approaching them for advice on disposal rather than asking DEFRA. DEFRA are the sponsoring body, and pass regulatory enquiries onto the EA.

  • Comment number 92.

    #89 - you aren't a Zero Waste enthusiast. You're a 'Zero Waste to landfill as a result of your own personal disposal options enthusiast'.

    BTW - I'm only trying to show you the bigger picture. Open your eyes, there's a good chap.

  • Comment number 93.


    I am fully aware of the chain of waste. Break the link in the chain, as I advocate for all consumers, and that will end it.

    Alternatively, if the other elements of the chain fully adopt sustainable practices then eventually full sustainability will be achieved. Minimising waste will be a big factor of this process.

    In the meantime, we, Zero Waste enthusiasts, will provide our own contribution to sustainability.

  • Comment number 94.

    #93 - But you aren't breaking any links here! You are advocating the use of less sustainable alternatives. Look at the long running argument you had about the wooden toothbrush...

    The other 'elements of the chain' are, on the whole, closer to sustainability than you are. Are you minimising all of your impacts? Industry is trying its very best to. After all - environmental impacts = financial cost. It's in their best interests in a competitive market.

    You aren't a 'Zero Waste' enthusiast, btw. You're a 'Zero waste to landfill as a result of your personal disposal choice' enthusiast.

  • Comment number 95.


    We are consumers and can only indirectly influence other areas of the chain of waste.
    What we can do is reduce our landfill contribution, personally from 100 binbags to 1, as part of the drive to sustainability.

    Other parts of the chain must reduce their waste to a minimum as well.

    We describe ourselves as Zero Waste enthusiasts. We are aiming for that ideal. The people involved are the salt of the earth.

  • Comment number 96.

    #95 - I'll say it again. If the process by which you reduce the amount of material put out for collection involves the use of less sustainable alternatives, you aren't doing anyone any favours.

    Please go and read around carbon footprinting.

  • Comment number 97.


    Sustainability is the end product of changes to the chain of waste. That is our goal. We contribute to sustainability by reducing our waste to minimal amounts.

    There is resistance to this necessary change by vested interests. Nevertheless, we will continue our Zero Waste challenge and with numbers joining every day the conclusion is not in doubt.

    Other parts of the chain must adopt a similar approach by reducing their waste in turn. The endless production of waste must end and a minimal waste system introduced. Full sustainability will be achieved.

  • Comment number 98.

    #98 - Sustainability is a much bigger issue than just what you do with your personal waste stream. Google for the Brundtland report if you want to read up on it.

    Here's the definition - 'Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but in the indefinite future.'

    In a personal waste stream context, thi doesn't just mean minimising what you chuck out - it means minimising the impacts of what you use. If you minimise what you chuck out and don't consider the upstream impacts, you aren't being sustainable.

    Which is why you can use and recycle plastic and still aspire towards sustainability if this gets recycled or upcycled - but if you get rid of it altogether and replace it with less sustainable alternatives, you're not acting sustainably. [And we arrive back at the paper bag vs the plastic bag argument again...]

  • Comment number 99.

    "There are none so deaf as them that don't want to listen"

    - a Yorkshire saying


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