RENewsletter | August 7, 2011

 

The Free environmental newsletter from RochesterEnvironment.com

“Our Environment is changing: Keep up with the Change.”

[7//31/2011 – 8/07/2011]

 

* Got news? | Go to my blog: Environmental Thoughts - Rochester, NY or Tweet me @ http://twitter.com/#!/FrankRrrr   On Twitter, I post local environmental events, news, and commentary as soon as it happens.  If you think this newsletter, which continually informs our community on our local environmental news, events, actions, is worthwhile, please encourage others to sign up.  

 

The great conundrum of our times is that in a time of rapidly occurring Climate Change and a rapid disintegration of the environment that we need to thrive and survive, mainstream media still marginalizes environmental concerns. [Check often for this continually updated list on the possible consequences of Climate Change in our region--supported by facts.] If there isn’t a quick and substantial change in how environmental concerns are reported, edited, and chosen in mainstream media, the public will continue to believe that environmental concerns are merely special interest matters, issues they can avoid if they choose.  How can we inform the public and monitor our environment without abridging our Freedoms--in enough time to safe ourselves?

 

Anything else you're interested in is not going to happen if you can't breathe the air and drink the water. Don't sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet. -- Carl Sagan

 

Opening Salvo | NewsLinks | Daily Updates | Events | Environmental Site of the Month | Take Action |

 

 

[Hyperlinks work by CTRL + click to follow a link]

 

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Opening Salvo:  “Until trash magically disappears in Rochester, NY”

 

Let’s face it: A lot of folks won’t recycle unless it’s almost effortless.  Sure, there are the dedicated folks who read all the instructions by the county and their communities and make sure all the right stuff gets to the right places.  But you only have to look at the size of our landfills and the trash along our streets to see that far too many still march their old TV’s, computers, and you-name-it to the curb whenever the idea occurs to them.  We are a long way from Zero Waste—which is the Holly Grail of sustainability.  Zero waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. Any trash sent to landfills is minimal.

 

Landfills, for all their salient convenience (throw all your stuff in a great big hole and forget about it), are not good for our environment.  Meaning, landfills do not a sustainable environment make.  What little methane gas we burn for energy from rotting biomass (about 20% if we are lucky and the rest goes into our atmosphere as a very potent greenhouse gas) is nothing compared to the mountains of stuff that cannot be reused as resources, but must be dug anew from our land.  A landfill is simply a black hole for those who think that stuff disappears when we are done with it.  Trust me, it doesn’t.   In fact what we need is not a delusional disappearing act, we need a waste stream that is green all the way down—meaning some kind of universal waste stewardship standard to make sure waste gets treated properly and never contaminates. 

 

Our county and state governments have recently ramped up their efforts to get junk out of landfills and recycled properly with the passage of the expanded plastics measure, the new ECOPark (that will be a one-stop-shop for the disposal of everything not accepted by refuse haulers), and the The Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation.  But even when offered a myriad of places to recycle--hazardous waste and pharmaceutical drop-offs, recycling business, non-profit groups that take hard to recycle stuff for you, non-profit donations centers where you can have your stuff reused, and special recycling events--many just want their items gone—not a lecture or a long search.  They want instant trash be-gone gratification. 

 

Also, many folks don’t like the government telling them what to do, like fining them if they don’t recycle properly.  For them the market system becomes the Holy Grail so that all your trash pays you back.  As you guessed it, there are folks working on that:

 

Taking It Back  “Material makers will have to adapt to help consumer goods firms fulfill product stewardship goals | “Begin with the end in mind.” It’s one of the seven habits of highly effective people, according to leadership guru Steven R. Covey. Highly effective consumer products companies are leaders at prototyping, consumer research, and creating inviting retail environments because, for them, a happy customer is the ideal end state. But companies are starting to recognize that their products have a life after the customer, and that life often isn’t pretty. A cell phone, a car tire, or a plastic bottle will, more often than not, be thrown away after use. But “away” is not a mythical nonplace; it usually means either a landfill or trash incinerator. All three objects are made with materials that can be recycled, and increasingly they are being recycled. In the U.S., 34% of municipal solid waste was recycled in 2009, versus 10% in 1980, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. For the most part, however, the products consumers use every day were not designed with any end-of-life destination in mind.” (Aug 1, 2011) Chemical and Engineering News

 

But it’s not going to be easy.   How would the market create a waste system that doesn’t cheat, that doesn’t allow toxins and other contaminants to be shipped away to be contaminated in other areas, and one that insures that everyone recycles?  Governments are the only folks who can compel those who don’t want to recycle to do so.   And, of course, there will be those (as there always are) who say their freedom to trash the planet is secured in the US Constitution.  (Even if it is, we’ll be knee-deep in trash in no time at all if that loony notion prevails.) 

 

It’s not hopeless: There are ways to insure that your neighborhood doesn’t turn into one big trash heap.  Contact Monroe County and report those who aren’t following the law: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Recycling Laws and Regulations.  In the City of Rochester, report those folks who march their trash days ahead of the pick-up day and refuse to put their stuff in the proper containers so it blows all over the place.  Get your neighborhood association to hire folks to pick up trash a few hours a week.  Or, go to the Rochester Sierra Club Zero Waste site and gets some ideas on how and where to recycle in our area.  You might even put in a request to their Facebook page for that hard-to-recycle item of yours.  There is no limit to the amount of places where you can recycle, once you take responsibility for the health of your planet that you plan to leave to your kids.

 

Until the day comes when trash magically disappears it will be a threat to our public health, the value of our properties, and continue to contaminate our environment.  There are an incredible amount of folks who do care about the proper disposal of trash and when their numbers predominate in a community, you have a clean community.  Until then, your government will have to ramp up enforcement and compliance as is happening around the world because living in trash is just not sustainable.

 

 

FrankRegan@RochesterEnvironment.com  (Click on my email for feedback)

 

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NewsLinksEnvironmental NewsLinks – [Highlights of major environmental stories concerning our area from the past week]

 

 

 

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UpdatesDaily Updates – [Connecting the dots on Rochester’s environment. Find out what’s going on environmentally in our area—and why you should care? Clicking on -DISCUSSION – will take you to my blog “Environmental Thoughts, NY, where you can add your comments.]

 

 

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EventsRochester Environmental Events Calendar – [The most complete listing of all environmental events around the Rochester, New York area.]  If you don’t see your event, or know of a local environmental event, please send me the info: FrankRegan@RochesterEnvironment.com with (EV event) in the subject line.

 

August 2011

 

September 2011

 

 

October 2011

 

 

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ActionTake Action - Often, I receive request to pass on alerts, petitions, Public Comments on local developments, and environmental items needing action by the Rochester Community and around the world. I’ll keep Actions posted until their due date. 

 

 

 

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AwardEnvironmental Site of the Month Award – [On the last Sunday of each month, we present an environmental award for the Rochester-area environmental web site or blog that best promotes the need to protect and offers solutions for our area's environmental issues.]