Thursday, November 09, 2006

Further evidence of confusion between recycling, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change in the public’s ‘green’ mindset

The responses to a local consultation exercise demonstrate the confusion in people’s minds about recycling and climate change. I’ve long worried that, because both attract the green label, some people think that if they recycle they’ve done their bit for the climate.

It’s taking place in Gloucestershire’s little greenish enclave of Stroud which is home to high numbers of ‘middle-aged-hippie’ types and is an interesting mixture of urban and rural. A picturesque, post-industrial area on the edge of the Cotswolds, it’s also known as the ‘Five Valleys’. The Cotswold-stone mills on the streams in these valleys, which were at the heart of the textile industry that once flourished here, are now derelict or converted into potteries, offices, workshops, warehouses, pubs, restaurants and the like.

The District Council’s area is a bit bigger than the Parliamentary seat’s (which is held, just, by David Drew for Labour & the Co-op) and takes in some additional affluent rural bits. So it’s unsurprising that it’s held by the Conservatives with 29 seats against 21 for the rest (including 5 Greens).

The public has been asked to contribute ideas to the council’s process for producing a twenty-year environmental strategy. Apparently you can watch the council’s debate today live tonight but I think I might find some paint to watch drying instead! The ideas are a muddle of a lot of recycling, some woolly electricity generation schemes and too few energy-reduction measures.

Recycling is primarily about reducing the demand for landfill sites and is probably at best only greenhouse gas neutral. Some will even claim that it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions because so many of the processes are very energy intensive.

One thing should be made clear; recycling your rubbish doesn’t compensate for the flights, car or other journeys you make!

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