Glass is an interesting thing, especially for the eco-minded — those who are health-obsessed or who avoid plastic like the plague tend to love it because it’s reusable, recyclable and doesn’t leach any toxic chemicals.
But on the other hand, manufacturing glass is hardly easy on the environment; this site provides a fairly comprehensive overview of what’s involved in each production stage — as it points out, carbon dioxide emissions related to glass manufacturing in the UK and Ireland amounted to 4.2 million tonnes in 2005 (that’s not including the 3 million tonnes of electricity required). And recycling is limited to both the quantity and quality of glass available; and correct me if I’m wrong, but coloured glass presents more of a problem than clear glass.
Some glass manufacturing companies have taken steps to incorporate certain levels of recycled material into their final product, like Consumers Glass, for example (although their website is written in Comic Sans, which is never to be trusted, if you ask me).
Either way, in the end, I think it comes back to the first and most important step in the waste hierarchy: Reduce. So from now on, I’m going to try to avoid buying any new glass, or at least glass that isn’t recycled. As well, if I’m at the liquor store and deciding between a few different bottles of Ontario vino, I’m going to opt for the one that’s in a clear bottle and make sure I rinse it well before “Bagging it Back.”
P.S. Valentine’s Day is soon approaching, and while Yours Truly will of course be spending it alone with a bottle of local plonk and a generous portion of cynicism, those looking to green their lovey dovey ways might want to read this here Washington Post story (Green as a Thistle was consulted for it, which makes it extra cool).
Image courtesy of this nifty, but kinda pricey, shopping website