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What is geocaching?
Geocaching is becoming more and more popular as an outdoor activity around the world and i especially enjoy it as a family activity with my wife and 2 kids as they can easily tag along. The objective is to use your GPS, sense of location and find the hidden treasure inside containers left by others. Typically, the contianer holds a logbook and a pencil, for you to write your own codename, name and date, to prove you found the container. For the kids, it is an absolute treat.
Why do people use the old ammunition container as a geocache box?
Geocachers are creative and adventures, and want’s their particular stash to last a lifetime or longer. It has to be a positive experience for their fellow geocachers to find a cache that is actually worth something and intact. Up until now, people are using tupperware, Ikea plastic containers and old metal ammunition boxes to keep their items safe from water and what nature otherwise have to offer.
The M2A1 ammunition container is a favourite amongst us, as is it sturdy, simple to use and last a long time. It is however, not very environmentally safe. As the boxes are and have been made around the world across several decades, the boxes are also painted in various ways. Some a made painted with epoxy enamel, two-component aliphatic polyurethane, spray paint, contains paint thinner and many other chemicals (see MIL-DTL.3060G for more info on the subject). With the introduction of CARC (chemical Agent Resistant Coating), the processes of paint have improved for the workers painting the boxes. However, as time deteriorates the boxes, so does the paint, which dissolves in to the nature where it is buried, harming the surroundings. As for the metal, it will slowly deteriorate over time, becoming rust and leave little trace in nature.
Then what about the plastics ammunition containers for geocaching?
Plastic containers, be it Tupperware or the LWAC M2A1, is preferred by many as it is easy to get their hands on and use. The LWAC M2A1 is completely water proof (aka could be left on the bottom of shallow lake to be found), easy to open and close and has a large interior volume for logbog, pencils or other items. As the color is dyed in to the material, it leaves no trace over time in the wild. It has the exact same interior dimensions as the steel variant, meaning the swap is easy and without effort. You will only experience the benefit of a completely waterproof case over decades of use and case which leaves no traces in nature once removed.
How is geocaching and the environment connected?
Creating a plastic composite box has very limited effect on the environment. The production processes are perfected and waste is at an absolute minimum. Errors in production, mal-functioning items, colorvariations or boxes that dosn’t meet our quality standards, are immediately recycled on-site, and reused in the production. Hence, no trucks have to drive the materials elsewhere to be processed, and driven back in larger quantities.
If we compare the production of a LWAC to the steel variant, we find vast differences in the labour expense extrusion of metals from the ground, transportation and processing and then the actual production. A large quantity of the materials used in the production are waste metals, which has to be collected and driven back elsewhere to be re-melted back in to sheet metals. The machinery used in the production are both labour and energy intense, comparing to the production of plastic boxes. For example. The gasket in the lid is created in a single motion in the production of the lid in the plastic factory. With the metal version, it has to be manually added afterwards, adding more ressources to the production of the case.
So geo-cachers are very environmentally aware, meaning that whatever we can do to preserve nature and the wild, we will do so. It’s the same with the trash you bring with you in to nature – you also bring it out of it.
How does it save the environment?
In the transport of 1 truckload of LWAC M2A1, we save the environment 7.500kg of dead weight (5.000 cases X 1,5kg). That’s the same a full-grown male elephant + 1 car, being transported for no reason when using steel.
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