Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Monday, February 26, 2007

plastic surgery

was on a flight last weekend.
interestingly, i was seated right behind medha patkar. was not 100% sure till i read the papers the next day!

while they served the breakfast, i counted 1 tablespoon, 1 teaspoon, 1 fork and 1 knife. all plastic.
assuming 150 passengers per flight times 200 flights per day (am using my orifices to get these numbers), thats at least 1.2 lakh pieces of cutlery a day = 4.4 crore pieces per year = 875 Tons of plastic per year (20 grams per piece).

am sure that they never reuse these, because the cost of sterilisation would be way over the cost of the cutlery.

i really hope they recylce them.

medhaben was really hungry. she really tucked into the food.

Note: the surgery in the title refers to my clinical work with the numbers.


Vanessa said...

You never fail to amaze me with your selection of topics, the interpretation, the angle, and the way of putting things in words. The expertise with the calculation and information storage is just as i have mentioned a few times before. These are few reasons i keep returning to your blog. Its not my IE hoomepage, but i visit it regularly.

Wish you had known it was Medha Patkar. You could have had a great conversation. And good for her you weren't sure ......
just kidding :-)

csm said...

you should read

they are extremely good writers and cover myraid issues with humour, depth and insight.

they are in my blog link list.

thanks much for the support.

Ludwig said...

Have you read any Monbiot? In an effort to understand what this whole climate change thing is all about, recently bought a (very expensive!!) copy of Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning. He does some "plastic surgery" type calculations in it, to show how much we (mostly individuals in first world economies) contribute in terms of CO2 emissions, trash etc. Haven't finished it yet, but it's quite an apocalyptic read. He even has a website about the book...

P.S.: There's an entire apocalyptic chapter devoted to air travel, where he says there's no way to minimize jet engine related emissions, other than to simply stop flying!

P.P.S.: If you're wondering who Ludwig is and why he's suddenly turned up, I will jog your memory a little bit. We last met at the bus stop in front of the IIT-Bombay gate, after lunch after the last day of the Asha-India meeting in December. I was waiting for a bus to Goregaon, and you were going to take some of the UP folk to the school painting thing... I was your (and Kenny's) junior in Madras, and was with Kenny in Amherst as well. She will explain the rest, perhaps :)

csm said...

l - gotcha. you run marathons in the wrong city too :-)

will look at the links too. very interesting.

so right about the flying bit. i took this ecological footprint test once, and just flying adds so much to your ecological destruction kitty.

Preeti Aghalayam aka kbpm said...

hey you commentspace male-bonders taking my name in vain, & vanessa, & sundry lurkers:
if only people would stop driving to the gym in order to get on a treadmill and walk, you can count it as a win.
i heard a most unreliable source say that in India everything is re-used, without exception. Including but not limited to the used cooking oil from restaurants - Five Star -> Four Star -> No Star -> Road Side Dhaba etc. I am sure such a scheme is in place for plastic spoons and forks and knives. Not sure about the little plastic covers they each come wrapped in though. its a little tough to reuse , recycle or re-anything that.
but csm, very good point. you should have asked Ms. Patkar about it.

Ludwig said...

[csm] Korrekt. The-running-half-marathons-in-the-wrong-city type would be me...

[kbpm] " India everything is re-used..." This used to be the case, the whole notion of jugaad and what not. I'm not sure what the extent of reuse nowadays is. Is all the tons of stuff we see lying around there because

(a) jugaad doesn't happen on the same scale that it used to?


(b) There's just that much more schtuff nowadays, whattodo?


(c) Small green men with tentacles...

Oops. Wrong post.

Have you ever been to a city dump? If you haven't you should try it sometime. Most instructive. Me and my mom accidentally drove into the Vizag dump/landfill a few months back, thanks to a wrong turn. There we were, ticking along between the green hills and the blue sea, and in a moment of rashness we said, "Let's take this turn and see where it goes..."

It was a vision from hell, Yudhishtira must've seen something like this on that detour that he took before swargalokam. There was an entire valley (with a pukka metalled road cutting a broad arc through it, for the benefit of the dump trucks), full of garbage. Won't even get into mentions of the smell and the flies and so on.

Unbelievably, there are are people in the middle of all this, rooting through stuff, perhaps even living there. Maybe it's not so unbelievable... Anyway, it was quite a terrifying sight.

There's a putative recycling plant in the middle of all this, not sure what it does. In any case, as we drove out, we were stopped and questioned by a guard who was rather suspicious about us.

If that was the Vizag dump, the mind boggles to imagine what the Bombay or New York or Shanghai dump(s) look like.

csm said...

please read this.

truly mind numbing. a trip to deonar dumping ground is in order.

wrt to the spoons, i have a feeling they would be recylced.
kbpm - PET, right. so thermoplastic and so melt and recast. unless, of course FDA rules say that only virgin PET is allowed for food contact applications.
holy pile of shit...