Well, from my own experience the only type of trash (actually recyclables, there’s rarely ever such thing as “trash”) I ever separated and burned was non-laminated cardboard or plain paper (I always felt guilty about burning ink, because I knew chemicals would be released into the atmosphere whenever I did). I used the plain cardboard only as fire starters, but did not allow my roomate to burn the types of boxes which have an outer layer of laminate and ink all over them for advertising. Plain cardboard is essentially paper, which is a derivative of wood. Most of the cardboard we end up buying is the type that really shouldn’t be burned… but that’s the manufacturer’s decision. If every company in the world all of a sudden started producing goods that came in boxed that were made with plain cardboard, then everyone would have much better, cleaner fire starters. But we’d have to be careful to strip all the plastic packaging tape off the sides of the box before lighting the remaining woodstuff.
But, to be honest I do not think we should be burning anything (all that much, at least, see bottom). We enjoyed having a fire from time to time, because it was nice to look at and provided some direct warmth. But that is an inefficient way to heat a house and the amount of CO2 we undoubtedly released into the environment in making those fires is probably considerable. Just think: all that wood matter and ash we put up our chimney is now out there floating around in the atmosphere and it pollutes the very air you are breathing right now.
So I think the answer is two part: Yes there are certain types of trash we CAN separate and burn, (and it’s not as bad for the environment because you are not releasing any extra chemicals or gases into the air than you would be if you made a simple wood fire), But definitely NO in the long term, because there was a better way for us to heat our house, and we could have done without the view of the fire and sacrificed our enjoyment of it for the well-being of our fellow inhabiters of this global ecosystem, our fellow humans and animals on Earth!
Moderation is key.
this is from the epa (I think they know what they are talking about better than some guy on Yahoo answers who said “Ink is just fine [to burn]”
Items You Should Never Burn in Your Appliance
Never burn household garbage or cardboard. Plastics, foam and the colored ink on magazines, boxes, and wrappers produce harmful chemicals when burned. They may also damage your wood-burning appliance.
Never burn coated, painted, or pressure-treated wood because it releases toxic chemicals when burned.
Never burn ocean driftwood, plywood, particle board, or any wood with glue on or in it. They all release toxic chemicals when burned.
Never burn wet, rotted, diseased, or moldy wood.
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