Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Recycling, Composting and Manure





I have long been an environmentalist.  No, not THAT kind of environmentalist!  I mean a REAL environmentalist!

I have been recycling glass, plastics and paper, and composting vegetable matter in my garden, for well over 40 years.

At some time between the administrations of Teddy Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, the Leftists hijacked the cause of a clean and healthy environment.  And, if there be full disclosure, I myself bought off on that perverted version of it during my liberal days.

But part and parcel of my disillusionment with the Left included (but in no way was limited to) the fact that the facts didn't jibe with the rhetoric.  Some of the most significant environmental legislation was enacted during the Nixon and Ford administrations, for example.  And, unfortunately, Ronald Reagan's one major failing was his forsaking of the Republican Party's pro-environment stance.


I remember, for example, that when I was in kindergarten and elementary school,  I would collect empty soda bottles and redeem them at the grocery store -- 2 cents for the small ones (10 oz or 16 oz) and 5 cents for the larger ones.  They were ALL glass in those days, the polyethylene terephthalate plastic not yet having been put to its now familiar use in beverage containers.

But then, one day, the grocer declined to redeem a bottle I presented to him.  He showed me that the bottle bore the legend "No Deposit No Return."  Someone realized that by altering the design of a soda bottle so that it didn't use as much glass, it was cheaper to use brand new bottles each time, instead of having to clean and sterilize the returned ones.  The beverage bottlers caught on, and no longer conditioned the sale of their wares upon the return of the bottles.  The consumer would just throw the empty glass bottle into the trash, and it would go to the landfills with the rest of the trash.  Beverage purveyors were actually boasted of "No Deposit No Return" in their advertising.

But a while later, someone realized that just because the environmental cost of the bottles in the landfills doesn't appear anywhere on the beverage industry's balance sheet doesn't mean that there is no environmental cost.  And as the municipalities found that the taxpayers were in fact bearing the cost of the exhausting landfill capacities.  And so, the various states began to enact beverage container return statutes.  As one who regularly returns the beverage containers to the reverse-vending machines, this suits me fine.

And, of course, I put my recyclables out at the curb on collection days.  Where I live, it is paper and cardboard one week, and plastic, glass and metal cans the other week.  Once New York enacted the beverage return law, which was shortly after my wife and I relocated here, there was a noticeable (though by no means complete) reduction in the beverage container litter on the roadways and in the parks, et cetera.  My then 7-year-old son took to collecting the returnable bottles in order to supplement his income.

And so, today, I went to the Post Office.  Our Post Office has its regular wastebaskets, and also the blue Paper Recycle containers which bear the recycle legend and logo.  While going through my stack of mail, the janitor came by with his wheeled trash can, making his 1:00 PM rounds to empty the trash.  I stood to the side so that he could access the wastebasket beneath the counter where I was sorting through my mail.

Noticing the pile of papers from the junk mail and other extraneous cellulose matter from the contents of my P.O. Box, he asked me, "Is that trash?"

"It's for the paper recycle," I answered.

"Don't worry about it," he told me.  "I just put it all in the can and it all goes into the same dumpster!"


Query:  Why should I bother to take the time to bust my beitzim separating the recyclable from the non-recyclable if it all gets put into the same trash bin and goes to the same dump or incinerator?

At my local Post Office, all of the pretenses of recycling to protect the environment are a bunch of manure!

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