Recycling Plastic (5/28)

If there are places I could recycle plastics that I normally throw out, I would bring those plastics to recycle them if it wasn’t unreasonably far away. It would take extra energy to travel to another place to recycle them, but I would still do it. I would accumulate all the soft plastic bags and styrofoam, and bring those plastics to the place all at once. Although there would be energy used in bringing the plastics to that place, it would also be just as bad to throw the plastic out.

Although I would go to the places to recycle the plastics, the best thing to do is to not purchase those plastic items in the first place.

Plastic (5/21)

We use a lot of plastic in our lives. There are different categories for different plastics. The numbers on the plastic are the recycling numbers. However, not all plastics are recyclable, and not all plastics are safe for eating and drinking.

There is a lot of plastic with a #5 stamped on it in my bin. This type of plastic is polypropylene (PP). It can come in contact with food, it can be opaque or translucent, and it can be colored. It is stiff but not as brittle as some other plastics. It is heat resistant and tough, yet lightweight. These characteristics make PP a good choice for many different types of containers, such as yogurt and sour cream containers.

Polypropylene is considered to be safe for reuse. Although few people recycle it, it is becoming more accepted by recyclers today. When it is recycled, it is used to make landscaping border stripping, battery cases, brooms, bins, and trays.

Some plastics in the #7 plastic category can’t be recycled. While most plastics are recyclable, some of the recyclable plastics are not good for the environment, like styrofoam. The chemicals in styrofoam can contaminate food and drinks, and it also leaches into the environment. It is best to avoid these harmful plastics and use something reusable and more environmental-friendly, such as using a metal water bottle instead of a plastic one.

Reflection – Plastic (5/14)

We learned about different types of plastic, including thermoplastics and thermosets. While thermoplastics can be remelted and reshaped; once thermosets are formed, they can’t be returned to their original state.

Thermoplastics and thermosets can be replicated with common foods. Something like an ice cube reflects a thermoplastic: it can be melted, and refrozen again into an ice cube. An egg mirrors how a thermoset works: once you cook an egg, it cannot go back into its original form. I find it fascinating that two completely different things act similarly; just as an ice cube and an egg can replicate thermoplastics and thermosets.

It is interesting to learn that scientists and engineers continue to create new types of plastic. New innovations are constantly being discovered, and this new technology can help us do more things.

Replanting Trees – #3 (5/7)

“Oregon Forest Law requires us to replant the site within two years and it needs to meet “green-up” standards by six. By state law we are required to leave two live trees standing and two downed trees per acre of clearcut harvest. We are also required to protect small, medium, and large fish streams.”

Clear cutting is a way to remove timber from a designated area. It is the the most efficient and safest way, and it mimics natural conditions. But it has many negative effects. Once the trees are removed, there are no more trees shading nearby streams, so the temperature of the water increases. Oxygen levels decrease due to the lack of trees. Another result of clear cutting is the loss of topsoil. Once there are no more leaves that fall and provide the soil with rich nutrients, the soil decreases in quality, which can harm dirt-dwelling organisms. Animals that need the trees for their home are also negatively impacted. The forest biome, a whole balance of interwoven set of ecosystems, is disrupted by clear cutting.

However, the timber industry does take some actions to lessen the impact. After clear cutting, the removal of trees increases soil erosion, which will run into nearby streams and harm aquatic life. In order to combat this, the timber industry makes sure they have clean fresh rock to block off runoff, and they use silt fences or hay bales to filter out sediment. They are required by state law to protect small, medium, and large fish streams. 

Although the timber industry takes actions during clear cutting to protect the environment, there are still many harmful effects of clear cutting. Perhaps they could plant more than two trees per acre, because there can be hundreds of trees per acre before the trees are cut down, and planting only two trees does not seem sufficient. Planting more trees would help stop the negative effects faster, so the requirements should be changed.