Plastic is Greener than Wood?

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Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:19 pm

Kev Bailey wrote:Plastic is greener than wood?!? Plastics are hydrocarbons and one of the most worrying and damaging uses of our mineral resources to the environment.

Wood is a carbon neutral product. It absorbs the same amount of carbon dioxide as it releases when it rots. Grow it and use it, grow some more and feel no guilt.

Sorry, Kev. I found this in the Growbox thread and it stirred a response from my soul! Cool

Plastic, "once made into a usable container" (usually for something else) can be cleaned, sanitized and used over and over again, almost ad-nauseum. Wood, when formed into something like a grow box, begins to deteriorate almost immediately and I might ad, if it comes into contact with disease, molds, pesticides is virtually impossible to fully clean. One might get several (or many) uses out them before they are relegated to the scrap pile, but a good sturdy plastic box, bot, tub, tray, etc. will last much longer.

One could argue what is more "un-green", pulling petroleum out of the ground, mixing it with other chemicals and forming plastic; or, cutting down a perfectly good tree to make lumber. (FYI, I work for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, but I'm not a total tree hugger.)

Either way, once someone has already made the plasic container and discarded it (or put it on the market) the remainder of its usable existence is greener than using lumber for something that will eventually turn it back into the organic material it came from.

On a side note: plastic bread flats, soft drink trays and other plastic products might work quite well for developing bonsai. I will try ad download some photos.

JMOOO! (Just My Overly Opinionated Opinion!)

forbey

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  Kev Bailey on Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:40 pm

Sounds convincing until you consider the leanings of the corporations that are extracting the stuff. This is a limited and much more valuable geological resource than most of us currently appreciate. It may last longer as a growbox but it sure as hell isn't carbon neutral.

begins to deteriorate almost immediately and I might ad, if it comes into contact with disease, molds, pesticides is virtually impossible to fully clean.
Garbage. These are the rantings of someone who hasn't used good wood and completely fails to understand its advantages. Wooden growboxes have been used for centuries. If the correct timber is used, it has known antiseptic properties, eg. butchers chopping blocks and breadboards made of beech, known rot resistance such as the timbers used for boatbuilding, piers and piles, and can be just as simply cleaned as plastics with the usual sterilants.

a good sturdy plastic box, bot, tub, tray, etc. will last much longer.
But that is at significant environmental cost and it will look ugly all of its life and require to be responsibly recycled at the end of it.

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:40 pm

Some totes I found, already made, that would be great for growing boxes, training pots and temp homes for trees.Many of them already have mesh bottoms to allow for drainage. 2-lite bottle totes that the drivers use would be smaller, but would work as well.





forbey

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:46 pm

However, not all of us can afford or have access to the "correct wood", we have access to what we have access to.

Again, these containers were already made, they are already here, they will use no additional resources, so why not put them to good use.

Besides, if I have access to the type of wood best suited for a fine cutting board, counter top or floor, why would I want to cut it up, screw holes through it, fill it with dirt, frequently sprinkle it with fish emulsion and water and leave it out in all kinds of foul weather? Twisted Evil

Sorry, just playing the Devil's advocate.

I would rather stick it in the ground and let Mother Nature babysit it.

How about CONCRETE? thumbs up

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  Kev Bailey on Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:48 pm

I use many growboxes like this too but it is still butt ugly and not particularly environmentally friendly. I far prefer homemade timber alternatives. For me the thermal insulation advantage of wood is almost as important as the aesthetic and environmental.

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Renewable is the Key

Post  gman on Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:49 pm

Hi Forbey,
Quote “ One could argue what is more "un-green", pulling petroleum out of the ground, mixing it with other chemicals and forming plastic; or, cutting down a perfectly good tree to make lumber. (FYI, I work for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, but I'm not a total tree hugger.)

Have to disagree….. petroleum is not a renewable resource (in any reasonable time frame) whereas trees, forests and ecosystems are. We developed so many more products from trees (that we use everyday) than just “lumber”........... besides if you look at the carbon issue alone trees win hands down over oil.

Cheers

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:49 pm

Kev Bailey wrote: For me the thermal insulation advantage of wood is almost as important as the aesthetic and environmental.
We can lilne it with used petroleum based foam insulation! affraid

Plastic, not renewable, reusable!

forbey

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  fiona on Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:54 pm

Interesting, interesting, interesting. Just when you think you've got it sorted in your head...

Just a few observations, not really fully thought out as I'm totally tuckered after the exertions of cleaning out my glasshouse today. I also have to confess to being a crazy mixed up occasional turncoat when it comes to green-ness: I rail against shops that use too much plastic in their packaging, but I simply won't give up my 2Litre engine car. Either of them!

Anyway - some random thoughts

The plastic's useable lifespan is all very well - my own opinion is the environmental damage that accrues from discarded plastic after it has completed its life cycle. Wood breaks down into something organic and therefore useable and so on.

Pulling petroleum out of the ground vs cutting down a perfectly good tree? Hmmm. I always thought the key difference was the timescales for regenerating the stocks. Replacement of forestry trees - achievable in a short time. Petroleum? Additionally, I tend to use wood reclaimed from pallets for training boxes so I could argue I'm recycling and re-using.

You're maybe right about the ease of sanitising a plastic container, BUT, in my experience the bugs live in the soil and don't really care if that soil's in a plastic or wooden container.

Anyway, I'm still thinking off the top of my head here and it's getting late. Here's a last thought to bring this back round to bonsai and also just to show I'm not entirely against the use of plastics of some form: has anyone ever tried using polystyrene for training boxes? I ask because I have several large fish-boxes kicking around and it seems they have all the things I need. Insulation from the cold of a Scottish winter, drainage holes, and, I'm told, the ability to keep too much heat out in the summer. And easy to sanitise before use.

Whaddya think.

Fiona

BTW have the Gaelic books/DVDs arrived yet, Forbey?

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Why not

Post  gman on Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:03 am

Fiona, me darling……you read my mind……
So I wont got into the carbon credit and recycling issues around polystyrene (or Styrofoam as we likes to call it).
However, we might as well reuse them while they’re breaking down…not.
They’ve been growing forest seedlings over here in it…..for decades........ and it has wonderful qualities in the procurement of good root systems (as long as there's drainage....so make sure you have plenty of good drainage, but not too much. Lay them flat on the ground come late fall ( with the earliest moderate frost forecast)
Cheers G.

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styrofoam

Post  NeilDellinger on Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:58 am

Styrofoam is a great material for grow boxes. I've got a couple of trees in styrofoam seedling flats and in the coolers they ship steaks in. Those are great.

No one has mentioned recycling/re-using nursery trade containers, cut down to a suitable depth if needed. Why is that? Cut down 1-10 gallon nursery pots are great.

Neil

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  Rick Moquin on Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:33 am

I like naturalist finding suitable solutions to increase the benefits of our eco-systems. Unfortunately the majority are usually slanted to whatever they are trying to promote.

Again, these containers were already made, they are already here, they will use no additional resources, so why not put them to good use.

This argument is a moot point for every container bought, another is made to replace it. Let's face it, it's the world we live in.

On the other hand when I hear folks cannot afford wood A because it is more expensive than wood B etc... There is an old saying that you get what you pay for, and that is absolutely true when it comes to wood products.

e.g cypress will not rot, cedar twice as expensive as spruce bu last 5 times longer, do the math. And unlike your argument if the supply of lumber isn't dwindling, it isn't being cultivated neither. Old growth forest are nice to look at, but a hazard and waste or resources if not properly maintained. A major forest fire and what happens to old growth forest then as they are more susceptible to forest fires.

JUst playing devils Twisted Evil advocate from the left side Wink

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  Alan Walker on Thu Jul 30, 2009 4:10 am

NeilDellinger wrote: No one has mentioned recycling/re-using nursery trade containers, cut down to a suitable depth if needed. Why is that? Cut down 1-10 gallon nursery pots are great.
Neil
I recycle nursery containers, but most are too small for collecting. In fact, most of what I've seen here is too small for most collected material which requires getting a large amount of rootball. I have a two or three cement mixing containers (about 24" x 36") which work great for the large rootballs we have when collecting.

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  fiona on Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:08 am

My polystyrene boxes are salmon boxes measuring near enough 18inches by 32inches so are ideal for the size of trees I would collect. I get them from a fish farmer - unused (the boxes, not the farmer!) and therefore devoid of bits of fish entrails and smell. Actually, there's a neat little trick you can do with a wire brush and a natural stone colour of exterior masonry paint which transforms your fish box into a very realistic old stone trough. No hernias incurred in the lifting thereof either!

Sorry, gman, just can't bring myself to call it Styrofoam. It brings back painful memories of a musical instrument (I use the term loosely) called the Stylophone which was inflicted on this country by Rolf Harris. It produces one of the most gawdawful noises encounterd by humankind - somewhere between a demented mosquito and the sort of weird sound you can produce when applying a violin bow to a saw blade. Rolf apparently thought it was wonderful, but what can you expect from the maestro of the didgeridoo and the wobble board.

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  Henrik Stubelius on Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:43 pm

Please read this article, very alarming and scary to say the least. Theres nothing good about plastic, it should probably not have been put to use in the first place.
http://www.mindfully.org/Plastic/Ocean/Pacific-Garbage-Patch27oct02.htm

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:16 pm

It is very interesting to see the participation in this thread, even if it was started in jest.

As for the evils of plastic, I think you are confused. The problem is not the plastic, its the people.

I look at both extremes and conclude that those most significantly concerned about the problem need to step up and make the first move. If you choose to get rid of the plastic, we will all miss your forum entries, because you will most certainly have to give up your computer. If you chose the other path, we will also miss you because as a concerned human riddled with guilt for all the evil we humans do, you will volunteer to help remove the problem on a personal basis.

Sorry, just trying to make a point. YES, we need to be better stewards of our planet. NO, we don't need to go overboard with the Greenie-Weenie extremes.

Considering that I'm not into bonsai for The Environment, I'm into it for MY environment. I will continue to work with what materials I can realistically put into use to best suit my trees, my income and my conscience.

(On a side note: As for my carbon footprint, I drive a 14 year old GMC Suburban (SUV) with a diesel engine. I save apprximately $5,000 a year by running it the majority of the time on recycle vegetable oil.)

forbey

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  Kev Bailey on Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:29 pm

Good on you Forbey. My only regret is that my Diesel won't accept biodiesel or vegetable oil. Something to do with the fuel pump not liking it!

I reuse plastic washing up bowls, fish boxes, vegetable boxes and the like. I also cut down plastic florists buckets. Anything as long as I don't have to buy new plastic. I still prefer the wooden boxes as they look much better if carefully made. They don't become brittle, like the majority of the non UV stable plastic that is used for these "disposable" containers. Almost all of the wood I use is recycled oak offcuts from a sawnill, so they are dirt cheap and last very well.

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  JimLewis on Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:47 pm

Well, I put in my 40 years working for the Florida environmental agency, and I come out on the side of wood (and paper bags at the grocery).

The entire petroleum extracting, refining, manufacturing, and waste disposal process is probably THE most destructive activity mankind has developed. While it is true that those plastic containers once built and used have little environmental impact, if you look at what went into building them in the first place and the ultimate issue of disposal (recycling will NOT save the world as your grade school teacher would have you believe!) there's no contest.

Mind, I have little love for the timber industry, either. Simplistically put, it cuts down perfectly balanced ecosystems and replaces them with row-planted monocultures that has very little environmental and wildlife benefit (except perhaps on the CO2 front).

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Shifting to plans for palstic and wood!

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:56 pm

Actually, I don't have a problem with either old wood, or plastic.Most of my trees are on a wood frame table with a thick wire top, the rest are on a shelf made of bales of straw, covered with a tarp and boards set on them. The majority of my trees are in plastic nursery containers, while some are in plastic or ceramic bonsai dishes. One ficus is actually in an old horse feeding tub.

I'm working on the design for a greenhouse/bonsai display. The display will face North into my postage stamp sized back yard and the back of the display will be the north side of my green house.

Construction wil be a timber frame with tree trunks from a local tree removal service. THe shelves I hope to get will be old barn wood, the lattice back will be made of 2x4s with a translucent lining to make the wall look like Asian rice paper. The green house, framed with 4x4s will be enclosed with newer double-walled, translucent PLASTIC sheeting to allow for diffused light. I intend for it to look like a cross between a Korean rice-paper home and a Celtic lodge. Overall dimensions will be 20x10.

Would one of my Celtic readers tell me, the correct pronunciation of CELTIC. The Boston basketball team says (Sell-tick). Our St. Andrews Society insists it is "Kel-tick". What say you?

forbey


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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  Jay Gaydosh on Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:58 pm

Jim,

My wife works in a grocery store. We have a large collection of re-usable cloth grocery bags we usually use.
We are trying to get away totally from plastic bags, but I don't like the paper ones either.

forbey

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  leonardo on Thu Jul 30, 2009 4:57 pm

A peek at the big picture if you will. The majority of our garbage and throw away stuff ends up in a landfill. 55% landfill, 31% recycle, 14% burned is current. In a landfill the condition is anaerobic. Not an aerobic environment which processes biodegrading naturaly. An anaerobic environment which is basicly a mummified trash tomb of sorts. Thank goodness for the plastics because this whole thing sits on a plastic pan and keeps it from leaking into our ground water.
With the absense of air, water and sunlight (anaerobic) a banana peel will last a long time. A real long time so you can see we are talking about a very un-natural method of taking care of the majority of our junk. The byproduct is not good either..Methane Gas
By the the way, the number one item that takes up the most space in a landfill is paper...newspaper. .....ciao Leonardo

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  Henrik Stubelius on Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:06 pm

JimLewis wrote:Well, I put in my 40 years working for the Florida environmental agency, and I come out on the side of wood (and paper bags at the grocery).

The entire petroleum extracting, refining, manufacturing, and waste disposal process is probably THE most destructive activity mankind has developed. While it is true that those plastic containers once built and used have little environmental impact, if you look at what went into building them in the first place and the ultimate issue of disposal (recycling will NOT save the world as your grade school teacher would have you believe!) there's no contest.

Mind, I have little love for the timber industry, either. Simplistically put, it cuts down perfectly balanced ecosystems and replaces them with row-planted monocultures that has very little environmental and wildlife benefit (except perhaps on the CO2 front).

I agree completely.
I'm not trying to make believe I would prefer a life without the comfort and luxury that plastic provides us with, but I'm perfectly aware of the fact that we will have to pay for this in a very harsh way. There will be a HUGE smack in the face someday for us, and of course for our children and grandchildren. It feels kind of silly to start using paperbags and recycling plastic containers, it's too late folks, the damage is done. That being said, of course we must do what feels right and not give in comletely, that's the kind of let-go mentality that got us here in the first place.

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  gman on Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:15 pm

Hi Jim L.
I didn't want to de-rail this thread but you hit a nerve.........
Please don't put all of us (timber industry= forest industries) in the same basket OK..... when it comes to your quote:
" Mind, I have little love for the timber industry, either. Simplistically put, it cuts down perfectly balanced ecosystems and replaces them with row-planted monocultures that has very little environmental and wildlife benefit (except perhaps on the CO2 front)."

We (the company I work for) had a group of US Architects - Green Building Tour back in June and they couldn't believe how committed we were not only to our certification programs but to our stewardship polices and practices.
At the end of the day one fellow commented to me that I shouldn’t use the term plantations (a term I’ve used for 4 decades in the industry)….. as to him it meant the same thing as your interpretation Jim…..he said that we should be using something to the effect of “managing ecosystems”.

Now where were we .....oh yeah the use of plastics..............like most of you I use what's available and reuse, recycle and reduce as much as possible.......and my old fence boards (6" western red cedar planks) that have served me well for 12 years will be recycled and make excellent wood training boxes.
Cheers
G


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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  Lee Kennedy on Thu Jul 30, 2009 5:22 pm

I wonder what the "carbon footprint" is for this thread lol!

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  JimLewis on Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:40 pm

We (the company I work for) had a group of US Architects - Green Building Tour back in June and they couldn't believe how committed we were not only to our certification programs but to our stewardship polices and practices.
At the end of the day one fellow commented to me that I shouldn’t use the term plantations (a term I’ve used for 4 decades in the industry)….. as to him it meant the same thing as your interpretation Jim…..he said that we should be using something to the effect of “managing ecosystems”.

That's OK, I suppose. But do you truly create mixed age, mixed species forests? Can you? I doubt that is possible. There are forest product companies and then there are forest product companies. Some may try; many others don't seem to. "Green-ness" is very relative.

I've driven through 400 nearly continuous miles of slash pine orchards in Florida, and a gazillion miles of white pine forest in the northeast, and slashed landscapes in the far west. I've seen the silted streams and lakes, and the ugly colored water from leached out chemicals from runoff from bare "forest" lands.

It is really discouraging. Seems like 40 wasted years, sometimes. I "retired" at regime change in Florida, then watched many of the key programs I'd work on be systematically dismantled -- or "privatized."

Actually, the I'net probably has -- all things considered -- a pretty low carbon footprint in the climate change area, and is a very high environmental plus on other, pollution-related aspects of our environmental issues. (Tho if you go back far and deep enough, you arrive at that same old petroleum (or hydrocarbon) mess, since our machines, however removed, run on electricity.

But we've probably beaten this off-topic thread to death. Let's get back to bonsai.

(No fish were killed in the typing of this message.)

_________________
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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

Post  Harleyrider on Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:19 pm

Why not make a wooden surround for your plastic crates? That way, everyone's happy! thumbs up

@ fionnghal: Try painting a little natural yoghurt onto the sides of your newly-created faux stone trough.

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Re: Plastic is Greener than Wood?

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