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Q&A: Rinsing needn't be wasteful

Rinsing needn't be wasteful

After reading an article today about ways to conserve water, I got to wondering. When recycling, you are required to completely rinse all of the recyclable items. Question: Is it more important to drink or rinse?

This may fall under the "false choice" label. If those are truly your only options, then the answer is pretty clear — it's more important to drink.

But those aren't the only choices, and we're also not sure "required" is the correct term here. Recycling companies do urge that you rinse containers that held food. They do that because it cuts down on the rinsing they have to do, it trims the weight to be transported (thereby saving gasoline), and it helps reduce the level of contamination that could develop if surfaces aren't cleaned before being melted down.

Pablo Paster, a greenhouse gas and sustainability engineer who is a consultant to corporations, suggested in a story for treehugger.com that you scrape food into your compost bucket or trash. Then save the container until you're done with the dishes and use your dirty dishwater to rinse. If you don't have leftover dishwater, go ahead and use tap water — but cold, not hot.

Paster also wrote that research indicates recycling ultimately saves water. Turning raw materials into single-use packaging requires water. Recycling reduces the need for that packaging and, by extension, the water. James Norman, director of research at Planet Metrics, an environmental analytics company, gave Paster this example: A small canning jar weighing 185 grams requires about 1.5 liters, or about 48 ounces of water, to manufacture from virgin materials.

So, Paster reasons, you save water even under the most wasteful scenario for rinsing — though he urges not to be wasteful.

Where campaign funds go

Who are the real beneficiaries of political campaign spending? What is the breakdown of how that money will likely be spent?

The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) estimates of total campaign spending in the 2010 campaign, culminating with the general elections Nov. 2, will be $3.7 billion and could exceed $4 billion.

Some, especially in local races, spend a little. Some, especially in high-profile races, spend a lot. Meg Whitman, Republican candidate for governor of California, had spent about $140 million by the end of September.

The beneficiaries are many, including the winning candidates and their aides, the people and organizations and corporations that donate money in the hopes of influencing decisions, the airlines and hotels and restaurants that service the campaigns and the media (mostly television) that get an influx of advertising.

A lot of attention is focused on total money raised, but not nearly so much on how it's spent. A rule of thumb many campaigns follow is spending 65 percent of your money on voter contact, which includes all advertising, 25 percent on travel expenses and 10 percent for contingencies.

Q&A: Rinsing needn't be wasteful 10/21/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 21, 2010 2:54pm]
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