Tag Archive: waste


What on earth is this?

…was my reaction when I saw an 8-track tape for the first time. It’s so inefficient and outdated! Why would anyone use this?

I also imagine that this will be the reaction of my, now 4 month old son, when he gets older and sees a phone book for the first time.

My wife and I received our beloved phone book in the mail yesterday…and it was trashed in less than 2 minutes. This really got me to thinking…

There are approximately 500 million telephone directories each year in this country (between yellow pages, white pages, grey pages, etc)…the population of the United States is not even estimated to hit 400 million until the year 2042, which means that we print enough phone books for almost every man, woman, and child to own two copies!

Assuming each book was 1.5″ thick (although, I’ve received several that were closer to 3″ thick), they would weigh 2.5lbs each. This brings us to a total of 1.25billion pounds of wasted paper per year.

We’re wasting the paper equivalent of the following:

  • 312,500 Ford F-150 Pick-up Trucks (basic model), or
  • 358,886 Ford Mustangs (V-8 model…because that is the only real model…), or
  • 38,461,538 sets of golf clubs, or
  • 78,125,000 bowling balls (16 lb), or
  • 2,500,000,000 Big Mac Hamburgers (that is 1 Big Mac for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day for 2,283,105 years)

Now, I’ve heard that you can opt-out of receiving a phone book, but, until you change the default, the actions of the majority will remain unchanged.

We do crazy things in the name of conservation and recycling, but sometimes the simplest and most effective victories are right on our doorstep.

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Today my gripe is against the dreaded communal sink.

It’s great in concept: with minimal capitol equipment you can facilitate the most people washing their hands at any given time.

The issue with this sink is  its real-life use: Men don’t like to be awkwardly bent over and shoulder to shoulder with other men washing their hands after they’ve used the restroom (I can’t speak for women, but I assume that this is also the case for you unless you are best friends or unless one of you has recently lent the other some eyeliner, etc).

With this knowledge in hand (and, as I can verify from all of my previous experience with these sinks), we can now see that there is typically only one person using this sink at any given time; which means that, during each use, 75% of the water being sprayed by this sink is being wasted.

On top of this, I would like to argue that there is rarely a case when these sinks are necessary. In the corporate restroom that I most often visit, there are 4 urinals, 4 stalls, and 4 of these sinks (which could each theoretically facilitate 4 people at a time for a grand total of 16 people washing their hands at one time). At most, three of the sinks are being used at a time  (with one person at each); therefore, four non-communal sinks could be implemented in this bathroom in place of the 4 communal sinks and there would be less wasted water.

Also, the water coverage for the communal sink  is far insufficient in comparison to the typical non-communal sink (as someone must attempt to get soap off of their hands utilizing 6-8 streams the size of mechanical pencil lead refills), the water tends to spray up and get water spots on your pants while you are washing your hands (which can lead to some awkward moments after you leave the bathroom)  since the water is shooting at you instead of aiming straight down, and, in the case of our communal sinks, the pedal frequently gets stuck in the “on” position as the equipment has worn over time, so it is not uncommon for these sinks to be stuck spraying when there is no one washing their hands (which, of course, is 100% of the water wasted).

I could see where these sinks could be handy (in very over-crowded conditions like community pools, etc), but this is not the right sink for anything short of such a high-volume venue!!!

Here is a picture of a standard Subway napkin.

Please note the “Please recycle or compact this napkin”, which is clearly printed on the napkin.

Why, then, does Subway not have any recycle bins or trash compactors on site?

To follow their instructions, we’d have to throw out all of our trash in their trash can:

  • The cup
  • The straw
  • The lid
  • The sandwitch wrapper
  • The chip bag (Sun Chips state that their bags are bio-degradable!)
  • …and that plastic bag (which they give you even if your order is not ‘to-go’!!!)
and then you’d have to bundle up all of your napkins, shove them in your cup holders, and take them to a recycling facility or take them home and recycle them in your own recycling.
Subway “cares” about the environment, by telling you to recycle your napkin, but they don’t actually do anything to facilitate you recycling your napkin…so they must not care that much!