About two months ago, I wrote an article about an environmental dilemma in which I found myself – to buy local, organic juice packaged in Tetra Pak containers or imported, organic juice packaged in glass containers. In the end, I chose the glass-contained juice because I believed that the end-of-life management options, which included recycling the product locally, outweighed the environmental cost of importing the juice from across the country. The Tetra Paks, I found out, were being shipped halfway around the world to China and Korea for recycling. About a week or two after posting that article, I got an email from the Carton Council of Canada, defending Tetra Paks. I feel that its important to share the contents of the email, so everyone can benefit, and though I didn’t have time to earlier, today I’d like to respond to it because they did bring some interesting issues to light.
My fiancee and I are having a green wedding. That means that we’re making conscious choices about the environmental impacts of every wedding-related decision we make, including what we provide to our guests. We decided not to provide soft drinks, but rather to provide a selection of healthier, organic juices. We went to the grocery store and found ourselves in a classic environmental dilemma, much like the ketchup bottle situation that Rick Smith found himself in when writing Slow Death by Rubber Duck. On one side, we found Santa Cruz Organic juices, a product of California and packaged in a glass bottle. On the other hand, we found Kiju Organic juices, a local Ontario product, packaged in a Tetra Pak container. Both products were the same price for roughly the same volume of juice, so there was no financial aspect to the decision. A glass bottle is more sustainable than a Tetra Pak, but a local product means it didn’t travel as far – if only there was a local product in a glass bottle! But alas, this is the classic environmental dilemma – more often than not, when trying to be environmentally responsible, you are faced not with an ideal choice, but with having to choose the lesser of two evils.