The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Saturday, September 26, 2009


As a child I remember being hectored to love the environment. "Give a Hoot -- Don't Pollute!" was one slogan. At that time it was considered sufficient to pick up one's trash and not pour toxic waste in rivers.

Earth-worship has now gotten to the point where putting trash in the garbage is as much of a crime as leaving it strewn about. A few days ago I received a glossy six-page missive from Sunnyvale Solid Waste & Recycling. The front page is a screed against that enemy of wildlife, the plastic bag:

Every second, 400 light and aerodynamic plastic bags are distributed in the State of California...

(I have a vision of engineers testing grocery bags in a wind tunnel. But let's move on:)

Plastic bags clog our creeks, streams, and bays. They are a major component of the worsening problem of plastic litter that kills thousands of marine animals every year. In one large area of the Pacific Ocean there are already 46 times more plastic particles than plankton.

I call bullshit. I have never seen a creek, stream, or bay (an entire bay, really?) clogged by plastic bags and I doubt the author of this article has either. And the density of plankton varies widely in the ocean, so the factoid of 46 times as many plastic particles (of what size) is meaningless without context.

...There's no reason for these bags to end up in the landfill or our oceans...

Um, how about the reason these bags should end up in the landfill is so they don't wind up in the ocean? What, are the landfills too precious to hold bags now?

Not content to lecture us once, the same booklet (is the glossy paper recyclable?) descends from marine-mammal-hugging to utter insanity:

Musical greeting cards are more popular than ever. But because they contain electronics and a battery, they don't belong in the trash.

Just what the hell can you put in your trash now? I note that the electronics and battery are tiny. Not that many people receive musical cards. Scientifically, cards in the trash are unlikely to have an adverse effect. But from a religious point of view, they are impure and therefore verboten.
Consider not buying musical cards. Will the person you are giving it to know how to properly dispose of the hazardous waste?
"Dearest Clarabelle: I hope you enjoy this 3x5 Postit note. I was going to buy a musical card, but decided you were too stupid to dispose of it properly as mandated by the High Church of Recycling."

It's not just greeting cards that contain electronics. So do toys and phones. Am I really expected to treat my kid's animatronic T-rex as if it were a jar full of arsenic?

Sunnyvale is more or less the geographic center of Silicon Valley, and its recycling department has decreed that it it immoral for people to use products which contain embedded electronics. Ye gods and little fishes.




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