So the Boy came from school yesterday with a new rule. The teachers are ‘banning’ plastic lunch bags in favour of ‘reusable sealable containers’. “Why?” I asked him. “Because we’re ruining the planet by throwing away all this plastic”, Says he. I immediately got my back up, and my Father Is Right attitude and I said “You go tomorrow with your plastic-wrapped sandwich and tell your teacher” (I know I’m right about this one) “...tell your teacher that our family’s carbon footprint is so low that we can carbonally afford to send your lunch in plastic bags or wrap!” This is true! When I purchased our house 11 years ago I purposely bought it because it was centrally located... 30 minutes walk to work. Yes W-A-L-K! And in the dry season, we do! We have one car (and one motorbike for fun!), but not two!
I thought long and hard about the cost of commuting long before we made that big decision to buy our first house. To commute, we’d need two cars because there’s no way we’d be able to time it so we can all be where we need to be with just one! Let’s break it down;
- Car (second): Lease $250 per month
- Gasoline: $50 - $150 per month
- Insurance / maintenance: $100 per month
- Time (based on $20/hr): Approx 1-4 hrs/day x 5/wk x 4/month = $400 - $1600 per month
Grand total per month is between $800 and $2100. This is no joke. When we bought our house, the mortgage per month was $900. Was I willing to buy a house that may have been a slight bit better (maybe 25% more value) and pay double? NOPE! Never mind the fact that all you spend on transportation never adds into your equity... now let’s look at the Gasoline costs.
Never mind the dollar value for the past 11 years, I want to look at the actual amount used;
- Gas (if commuting): Cost per litre / month x 12 x 11years
$50 x 12 x 11 = $6.600.00
- Gas (commuting): Litre / month x 12 x 11years
50 x 12 x 11 = 6,600 Litres
OK, now let me go back to my original reason for thinking about this: Plastic Bags and Plastic Wrap. I had to do a bit of interwebbing, but I found that One Barrel of Crude Oil is used to make about 74 litres of gasoline in total as well as other things (Natural gas, Unleaded gasoline, Diesel fuel, Engine oil, Gear oil, Grease, Tar/asphalt). Meanwhile all the plastic grocery bags that are used annually in the United States can be made from 0.05% of one Barrel of crude.
Uh... Wait a sec!? YES, you read that correctly. ALL the bags used per year can be made from less than one barrel. So... If one less-than-average commuter vehicle on the road per year (average 600 litres) burns 8.1 Barrels of crude (600/74), we could probably produce enough Plastic Wrap / Bags / reusable containers/ toys from china for ten years!
I know that this doesn’t remove what might have been the Boy’s teacher’s concern about landfill and plastic bags. I also found facts about this too.
What really pisses me off about all of this is the old “separation of church and state” which this issue is really about. The teachers seem to think that this new religion of “Planet Green” is more important than the four “R”s (OK two “R”s, an “A”, and a silent “W”; “Readin’, (W)ritin’, (A)rithmetic, and RELEVENCE!). The fact that these teachers are like the rest of the sheep out there in the world, believing this new Planet Green religion as “Gospel”, doesn’t give them the right to force it down my family’s young and impressionable. Maybe we should start again by teaching the kids to read with the old classics like “Chicken Little”.
The sky is falling! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!