Sep 022010

Plastic manufactured items should have to apply for an Enduring Item Permit.

A comment that Linus Torvalds made in a video where he was presenting Git to a Google group has made me more aware of cases where people have solved the wrong problem.

Plastic bags are a prime example that has been on my mind for some time. The root problem is that they last too long, they are an enduring item that should be designed to bio degrade within a year or two. The whole raft of ‘green’ bags that are reusable (and have had no success at all) are trying to solve the wrong problem! I have been buying bio degradable bags for as long as they have been available, use them and throw them away happy in the knowledge that they will simply bio degrade in a year or two.

Plastic washing line pegs on the other hand are the exact opposite, here we have a reusable item that should be enduring. But wooden pegs outlast plastic pegs by 5 times in my experience because the plastic pegs are made out a plastic compound that degrades in sunlight within a year!

A solution that I believe could work very well here it that manufactured items should have to apply for an Enduring Item Permit and have a clear logo indicating such otherwise they must be required by law to be manufactured from non enduring (bio degradable) plastic. The result would be that by default general plastic would be bio degradable and items that are permitted to be enduring items can carry a clear logo that the customer will recognise (I would buy the clothing pegs with this logo!)

Save the Water (Simpson’s: Won’t somebody please think of the children)
There are good solutions to environmental problems if we solve the correct problem, there is no shortage of water on earth! The coverage ration is 70% water – 30% land for F@!#$akes, the problem is that it’s not in a usable state, solve that problem. Water from most rivers is not in a usable state until damns, reservoirs and some filtering and purifying chemicals are added.

Save Electricity
We are saving the wrong things! We are all taught at school that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only converted from one form to another. Yet we all say make electricity and save electricity. You can’t save something that can’t be destroyed! Then we privatise the industry and push the prices up to pay share holders! Energy is freely available all around us, just not in a usable state, solve that problem! Convert it to electricity, which is the most usable form of energy that we know of today, we know how to solve that problem!

Gavin Kromhout:

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  3 Responses to “Don’t solve the wrong problem: Enduring Manufactured Item Permits”

  1. OK, since you asked ๐Ÿ™‚ .

    Re: Bio-degradable plastic bags. Great thought. Co-incidently, in the past week I have been discussing the need to find a biodegradable material for Roz Savage’s next rowing voyage, this time from Perth across the Indian ocean. She would like to not use plastic for her food containers, if a biogradable alternative that would withstand salt and wet conditions for at least 6 months were available.

    Re saving water. I would say that water from most rivers in **populated areas and places like Australia** is barely drinkable as is, but in places like NZ, most is pristine. The problem is poor planning/laws/lack of control of runoff, so rivers are polluted by man. This needs correcting. Also, there is an element of damage to natural systems inherent in dams and reservoirs.

    Re Save electricity: I agree there too. We just need to finding the best technology to capture solar at realistic cost, and distribute it as electricity. The main problem is that we do not price alternatives like coal and oil correctly. They are too cheap. The price does not take into account their full life-cycle cost, mainly because we do not yet know the long-term cost of environmental recovery of the planet from their direct and related waste/end products.

    All these issues are caused by short-term, narrowly focussed thinking. Out western economic model demands this. The problem is in our western economic model. It does not address true long-term issues, and it is not supportive of a population of 7 billion. That is why current discussion of “steady state” as opposed to the old “expansionary” economic models is so crucial to our survival.

  2. Agreed David, knew I would get some solid comment from you on an issue like this. As for steady state I do believe in progress but not at all cost, only when it is true progress. My present thinking is also that a hybrid social/capitalist model could work, we need to quit going from one extreme to the other on this, some problems are social some are economic and each should be tackled with the most suitable model. Also see this fantastic quote on this subject

  3. Very informative!!

    In recent times, the world is becoming cognizant about the hazardous effects of plastic bags on the environment.
    Also PLA has been used to line the inside of Paper Cups in place of the oil based lining more commonly used, create Plastic ( bioplastics ) Cups, Cutlery, Carrier Bags, Food Packaging and even Nappies.

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