Waste Based Society

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I love Olives, most any kind really although Kalamatta Olives are my favorite. They are pretty expensive though, the Spanish Manzanilla Olives are generally more affordable.

I also really like BEER. My favorite these days is Sam Adams Boston Lager, but I had many other favorites over the years,including Heineken, Dos Equis, Foster’s (my Aussie years of underage drinking ) and for a while also Grolsch.

Now, what do both Olives and Grolsch Beer have in common here, besides the fact I like both of them? In both cases displayed here, they come Packaged in Glass Jars or Bottles. Both products do come in Cans also of course, but I always liked the Glass packaged ones better.  Glass Olive Jars are often quite distinctive in their shapes, and Grolsch bottles are not only distinctive, they have a neat type of Resealable Cap on them.

Perhaps my first recollection of becoming aware that we were running a wasteful and unsustainble paradigm came from the original Coke Bottles, also made of Glass and also quite distinctive in shape. I was probably only 5 years old most when I couldn’t understand WHY we were throwing out these very nice Bottles which clearly could be reused many times over.

Eventually “recycling” became the word of the day, and you were supposed to separate your Trash into separate Bins, one for Glass, one for Aluminum Cans, one for Plastics of various kinds, one for Paper and one for Organic Waste, aka food leftovers mainly in the typical Suburban Household of the 1970s. Of course, having 5 different trash receptacles in the Kitchen never really gained all that much traction and eventually this worked down to 2, “recyclables” and non-recyclables. Somewhere, some Unidentified person sifted through the Recyclables trash on a conveyer belt separating out the Glass, Plastic, Paper and Aluminum.

Just looking at the Glass though, how was it “recycled”? The Bottles were not sent back to Coke Plants whole for rinsing and re-using, they were Crushed, melted down and Molded again into a new Coke bottle, or some other kind of bottle or Jar or maybe automotive windshield. How much Energy was saved by recycling a Glass bottle? Not much if any, and probably actually was net waste when you consider the transport issues.

Now, if you have ever seen Glassblowers in action or melted some glass yourself in a laboratory over a Bunsen Burner, you should have some idea how much energy you need to melt glass hot enough to mold into shapes. Now contemplate on how many Glass Bottles or Jars you have used through the course of your lifetime and thrown away after the product inside was consumed. For me, I know it is MANY, pretty much incalculable.

Anyhow, this problem always bugged me, and bugs me to this day. I have this real PROBLEM of Hoarding Glass Jars and Bottles. The reason I drank Grolsch mainly besides the fact the beer is pretty good was to collect up and Save the Bottles! I figured someday I would Brew my OWN Beer and these would be great to Bottle it in. The collection of Grolsch Bottles currently sits thousands of miles from where I live right now, in a Storage Unit in the Ozarks.

Since moving up to the Last Great Frontier, every time I go and buy a Jar of Olives, I can’t bring myself to THROW AWAY the Jar. Fortunately I have not become overwhelmed by Olive Jars because Fred Myers has an Olive Bar where you can scoop up what you like from the Buffet and drop it into a Plastic Container, which I don’t have too much trouble with throwing away.

Upon returning from Brazil in the late 60s, where I tagged along with the Cook to the Open markets where she bought the food, I became quickly AMAZED at how all the Dishware and Eating Utensils has become Disposable items also. In Brasil when we ate our meals, it was all off of Fine China and we had two sets of Eating utensils, the base metal Flatware we used every day and then the Fine Silver stuff we pulled out when the Rockefellers showed up and we had a big fancy Dinner.

Coming back to the FSofA after my parent’s divorce, we ate off paper plates with plastic forks and knives that got thrown out after each meal was done. I ate at GREAT Pizzeria’s in NY Shity, buying by the Slice at 25 Cents each, and each slice was served to me on a Paper Plate, along with a Paper cup for my Soft Drink, which I also threw away after the drink was consumed. No more Glassware, no more Plates to wash, MARVELOUS! Not really of course, because this was just more MOUNTAINS of endless WASTE, and Recycling never worked at all on an economic level.

The Frozen TV Dinners now morphed into Microwaveable Meals are yet another example here. I don’t remember the manufacturer, but at one point one of these Frozen Food companies put out a meal that was packaged on top of a Bakelite type plate that was REALLY sturdy and you could wash and use over and over. I started buying those early Microwaveable meals and SAVING the dishes! LOL. They were just too GOOD to throw away! Even today, there are some microwaveables packaged on plastic dishware you can easily reuse many times if you wash them after use. I do force myself to throw these away though, because keeping mountains of endless Plastic Dishware I will never need is ridiculous.

Anyhow, while the ungodly waste of energy involved in the Carz paradigm of running willy nilly around in SUVs is a great current source of Waste, the entire economic system here has been based on Waste through many areas, and probably started with the Glass Bottles. From recent stuff I have read, the Dutch apparently burned through their Peat Bogs making Glassware for export in the 1600s. Eventually the English started pulling up more Coal with the Steam Engine, but once the Dutch had to buy coal instead of use energy from the Peat Bogs to make the Glassware, it lost its economic advantage.

Just about everything we use depends on vast amounts of energy to produce, the refined Metals, the Glass, the Bricks and Mortar etc. We can’t keep making new stuff, using it once and throwing it away. This was clear to me as a 5 Year Old drinking Coke out of Glass Bottles. Exactly why it never became clear to everyone else remains a mystery to me to this day.


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