Thursday, September 17, 2009

Weighing Environmental Impacts

This morning, my husband announced that he was finished using the metal water filter for the coffee maker and was going to used recycled paper filters instead. When he saw the look of horror on my face and my green horns emerging, he suggested that the paper filters take no water to clean... and it takes a lot of water to get all of the coffee grains out of our metal filter holes.

Of course I know that paper filters likely have an embedded water footprint due to their manufacturing process and obviously take energy to make, but we likely use much more water per filter cleaning out that metal thing. So which is better for the environment? Metal reusable filters that take a gallon or so to get clean each time or recycled paper filters? Honestly, I'm not sure I know, and it got me thinking of all of the times recently when I've been hard pressed to know the right green thing to do. Like, is it better to replace 3 light bulbs with compact fluorescents or just one light bulb with an LED bulb (if money is an issue). Or if you happen not to have a bag with you... is paper or plastic better? Or, if you only have two choices at dinner, Alaskan salmon or farm raised white fish, which is better - one that is flown in from far away or one raised in captivity?

I think all this environmental talk has raised many great questions, but it is terribly confusing sometimes and not intuitive at all. I find myself having to prioritize values that I never even knew I had before. For example, I like the idea of the salmon living wild and free versus that poor white fish stuck in some man-made pond even though the salmon came via plane. Chances are the salmon has a little more protein in it as well, satisfying my appetite so that I'm not likely to want a second helping of food.

I guess the best part about all of this is that those of us with these strange ethical dilemmas are at least thinking about things rather than blindly making choices with no consideration for the environment at all. It can be exhausting though!


Anonymous said...

no bag leigh, no bag... yes, they will look at you like you're crazy, but it's usually doable!

Anonymous said...

oh, except at the liquor store. they don't like that at all.

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