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Paper or plastic?

February 18, 2010

I’m sure you’ve seen this “Green Police” commercial by now:

Maybe it’s because I’m not really a fan of eco-fascism, but I didn’t find the ad witty, clever or fun.  People being arrested for failing to use paper instead of plastic, or for not composting an orange peel?  Sounds like a nightmare.  It also sounds like in a world like that, I’d spend most of my time in jail.  

So I decided I’d start to research some of the eco-crimes being portrayed: 

Paper or plastic?  It turns out, it’s sort of hard to tell which one is worse for the environment.  In fact, you’ll notice a lot of people going on for pages about the issue, only to tell you “Screw it, use cloth bags instead.  I’m tired of arguing this shit.”  Ok, maybe not those exact words.  But you get the idea.  Many of them will even tell you, just use whatever you want and make sure you recycle it afterward.  *gasp* You mean I’m free to choose?  Incredible. 

Recycling regular old alkaline batteries.  Here’s the thing, you can throw out regular alkaline batteries with the trash.  Some batteries (like your car or laptop battery for example) contain chemicals and compounds that are incredibly harmful when they end up in a landfill.  Not so with regular alkaline batteries.  In fact, I’ve heard from people who when they tried to recycle regular alkaline batteries were turned away.  Or that recycling centers will take them, but they often end up right in a landfill anyway because there is nothing they can do with them.  It’s still recommended that you go with rechargeables to reduce how much you’re throwing away, but there’s nothing criminal about throwing out a regular alkaline battery.

Composting.  You see in the video a guy ready to throw what appears to be an orange peel in the trash.  They come after him for a compost infraction.  Personally, I think if you keep a compost, that’s awesome.  But also, I don’t wanna.  And given that on the average it takes just about 6 months for something like an orange peel to biodegrade completely, why should I feel guilty (or like a criminal) for not putting it in a compost?

The (evil) incandescent light bulb.  I assume that instead of putting regular light bulbs in your house, the Green Police would rather you purchase compact florescent light bulbs.  They are more energy efficient, afterall.  But they do pose problems of their own.  They contain mercury, and cannot be disposed in the regular trash like an incandescent bulb can.  And if they break, you better hope your Hazmat suit is back from the cleaners.  And have you seen how much they cost?  You’re supposed to be ok with the price, because of how much money they save you in the long run.  But when you’re struggling just to buy food (which many of us are) you aren’t buying light bulbs with future savings in mind.  If you have the money and the desire to dispose of them properly, then by all means put them in your home or business. 

The plastic water bottle.  Possibly the most demonized product on the market today.  I won’t argue that’s it’s preferable for you to drink water from your own reusable container. It’s common sense.  I’ve been filtering my own water for years and rarely purchase a bottle of the stuff.  But when I do, I don’t feel guilty about it.  In fact, if you recycle the bottle later I’d say you should be proud to have supported the bottled water industry.  If it wasn’t for the sales generated by everyday people, bottled water companies would never be able to help areas with compromised drinking water.  Can you imagine what the aftermath of natural disasters would look like without the convenience of safe drinking water that the bottled stuff provides?  If you’ve bought a bottle of water, ever, you’ve probably helped to ensure someone suffering without water got some. 

Hot tub temperature.  Aside from the energy being used to the heat the hot tub, I couldn’t quite understand why this would be such an egregious infraction.  In the video a couple of people are in a hot tub that has warmed to 105 degrees.  After doing some research, I discovered that the recommended temperature for hot tubs is 104 degrees.  That seems like more than just coincidence.  But here’s the real kicker, the 104 degree recommendation is for health purposes, not environmental ones.  And after reading even further, it seems that most hot tub manufacturers put controls in place to prevent the temperature from surpassing 104 degrees.  Now I’m sure some clever people out there could figure out a way around that.  But that still leaves this eco-infraction completely blown out of the water, so to speak.  Not only is the 104 degree recommendation in place for health (and not environmental) reasons, but most people won’t even be able to warm their hot tubs beyond that point anyway. 

Clearly I’m not an environmentalist by conventional standards.  I don’t get on board with the hype and I won’t be coerced into doing things in the name of the environment.  But I am conscientious and I use common sense.  Truly I believe that’s all we can ask of ourselves.  It’s our planet and we have to take care of it, but we have to take care of ourselves too. 


7 Comments leave one →
  1. Sewicked permalink
    February 18, 2010 11:22 am

    OMG! You heathen! You’re using *gasp* common sense! I don’t know if we can have that. *shakes head doubtfully*

  2. SecondBestDad permalink
    February 18, 2010 11:23 am

    Bravo! Common sense environmentalism… 🙂

    I’m all for recycling, green technologies, etc., but I had the same reaction you did to that lame commercial. Glad to know I’m not heartless and stupid. Or at least, that I’m not the only one… 😉

  3. Ronny permalink
    February 18, 2010 11:29 am

    Please look into beef production fallacies…I could go for some tender veal parm right now….and a new pair of blue suede shoes.

    • February 18, 2010 11:32 am

      Wait, doesn’t hamburger get produced by magic? I’m sure that’s how it works. Yes. At least 72% convinced.


  4. Jake permalink
    February 23, 2010 2:21 pm

    If Al Gore somehow “googled” you, using the internet he created, you would undoubtedly make his hit list.

    • February 23, 2010 2:24 pm

      That’s my only life’s goal. Also, Jake, you’re a tool.

      You wanna hug it out later buddy?


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