The last time I did a waste update was in May, so I think it's time to take a look into my personal "landfill." The trash in the jar is from my previous update, which you can find here.
I present to you, my waste:
- Cacao Powder that ran out - I now buy in bulk. Cacao powder makes for great bronzer, btw.
- Some old beauty sample packets
- mineral powder container that had run out (I use the mirror that was attached)
- a seal from some vitamin D
- a security tag I found in a book
- tags from clothes
- a necklace chain that broke
- a tube that contained moisturizer - I now make my own, you can find it here
- a broken cable tie
- old credit cards, licenses and ski passes
A lot of this trash was found when I was moving, I was most surprised by the number of cards I had accumulated. Around 18 billion plastic cards are thrown out each year, and a lot of these cards end up on their way to the landfill when they expire. That's close to 75 million pounds!
Most cards are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC is a petroleum-based plastic. PVC is not recyclable. There's also poly lactic acid cards (PLA), made of cornstarch. PLA biodegrades in 82 days (as long as it's not in a landfill). Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is what plastic bottles are made from (look for the PET-1 triangle). PET is recyclable, but most companies won't use PET for plastic cards because it costs up to 20% more than PVC.
I have an "enviro" Visa because it's supposed to help with environmental efforts, I wanted to see how environmentally friendly the actual card is. I called to see what my Visa card was made out of. The operator didn't know and put me on hold to check with her seniors. Nobody in the office knew what the cards are made out of. Vancity Visa is going to get back to me within a day to let me know what their infinite number of cards are composed of.
I also called ICBC's human resource centre to see what a Vancouver drivers license card is made out of (I have three expired cards in my jar). They first told me, I could give them to a nearby office and they would safely dispose of them. I told them I would prefer to know what they were made of, that way I could keep them out of a landfill if they can't break down. Nobody in the office knew if they were PVC, PLA or PET. They promised to find out and get back to me in the next 24 hours.
I called Cypress Mountain so see what my old ski pass cards were made of; they also did't know and told me to shoot them an e-mail so they could get in touch with their suppliers. They said they would get back to me within a week.
The issue of plastic cards is highly ignored. Companies as big as VISA and as local as a ski mountain don't know about a very important product they use and the effect it has on our environment. Hopefully I hear back form these companies and will be able to make an informed decision on what to do with these plastic cards.
If my cards are made from PVC, I've contacted Earthworks. Earthworks is a company that provides a green alternative to PVC. They take old cards made of PVC and make new cards by recycling the old PVC and making new PVC material. I'm going to start asking for this green alternative from companies that offer me cards. 10 billion new cards get put into circulation each year, and this can be reduced if we voice our concern. By using recycled PVC we can reduce landfill volume and help protect our environment.
Want to dispose of your cards? Check out Earthworks site here.