Sunday, 1 September 2019

Saturday Ramble - green issues

Here's funny thing. How much do we like plastic? As humans the thrust is negative, we are now coming around to the fact that wrapping things in plastic and then chucking it in the sea is a bad idea - well everyone except the Americans. As modellers though, the pattern is the opposite - in the last twenty or thirty years we have increased the use of plastic ten fold as year on year more and more minor items are made in styrene and as we speak the upward technology is 3D print; plastic again. In other words it is almost impossible to be a modeller without using upward of 70% plastic on the layout.

I wrote an editorial for 009 News last month on just this issue and have received a small postbag from people who are still using waste card and wood for a lot of their modelling work. However they are mightily in the majority. I also shared a video on FB a few days ago which is on Phil's blog to your right featuring a railway built  almost entirely from card. This is quirky in the extreme and although is a fun approach, it isn't what most of us would aspire to, being that most of us seek to create something which is more representative of the real thing, which this frankly isn't.

What then is the answer to all this? Do we blindly continue as normal and accept all the plastic goodies with relish, or do we step back a little and consider if we can or need to change something. I've stated here several times that I'm not a Metcalfe kit lover (though they can be improved). Superquick are a tad better to my eyes, but card buildings are not for everyone. Though I'm still sure that let's say 'the beginner' could build a new simple layout from scratch using just these materials and a minimal amount of plastic. I wonder if this could be a future project for me or someone else to try and how effective it would be compared to the plastic heavy version? I'll chalk that one up as a possible  - on my blackboard, not my wipe clean plastic whiteboard, naturally.


  1. There are next generation card building kits, such as the scalescenes ones, and a few makers of laser cut wood/card ones. I've built track when on the Timbertracks precut turnout bases and people ahve used the Silhouette cutters to produce coach sides.

  2. Agreed. There was also a 'toasty' burnt wood smell around E Devon last week so we may see more laser cut things in the future.

  3. Let's hope it was sustainable wood! Will Peco be planting trees to replace those being used in their laser cut kits? I was alarmed to see the range of revised plastic packaging on the whole Peco/Wills/Ratio range when it was on display with Squires at York show. Nice to see Peco responding to similar concerns in the last RM. I haven't had the need to buy anything yet but it would be nice to think there was a big 'Recyclable' logo or wording somewhere on the packet/instructions. This is the big issue with plastic recycling - little clarity about exactly what can and can't be recycled. Different authorities still have different rules abouut what is acceptable.

    1. I can't speak for the company, but the conversation I had about just this very point revealed that the revised packaging IS recyclable, and is deliberately so, as the two (card/plastic) materials used are now not fixed together as with the previous style, thus there is now no direct contamination. Having just used a houseful of Wills sheet on Hopwood I can confirm that this is indeed the case. Unfortunately Peco haven't shouted about this as loudly as I would have envisaged.