Glass is all around us, from food containers to windows.

It's a material that often comes to mind when thinking about living more sustainably.

So what's the deal with glass?

👍 Recyclable

Glass can be melted over and over again to make new pieces, and the energy used to melt recycled glass is lower than used to make new glass, as you don't need that high a temperature.
The thing though is that we recycle less than a third of it. 👎

👎 Not biodegradable

There's nothing in it for microorganisms to feed off of. So its degradation depends solely on environmental factors, such as wind, water, chemical actions, etc., and that takes a lot of time.
This is why recycling it is so important!

👎 Takes sand to be made

Glass is made of silica, and silica comes from sand.
The issue is that we use way more sand than the world is able to produce, and its extraction disrupts ecosystems and causes erosion.

Fun fact:

Did you know that Nature makes glass?
It's called obsidian, and it's formed when silica rock or sand melts from volcanic activity. There is evidence of the use of obsidian by humans dating back to 30,000 years ago to make weapon points, cutting tools and other objects.

Obsidian

Takeaway

Glass, plastic, wood, and other materials all have their pros and cons. The one thing they have in common is they are used in extremely high quantities by us humans, and we don't do a good job repurposing them.

So what we can do as individuals is to be mindful of our consumption and to use as little as possible. Only this way we will decrease demand for new resources at least to a level that can give our planet a chance to heal and replenish.

 

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