RENewsletter | October 2, 2011


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

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[9/25/11 – 10/02/11]


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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]




Opening Salvo:  “The perfect recycling bin for the Rochester, NY region”


One of the most popular displays at the Rochester Sierra Club’s and the Zero Waste Committee’s booth at Greentopia Festival was the perfect recycling bin.  Since April, Monroe County expanded plastics recycling to include #3-#7 plastics and so our Zero Waste committee made a mockup of the perfect recycling bin.  What goes into that perfect recycling bin?  Check this list MONROE COUNTY CURBSIDE RECYCLING &  RECOVERY .


Of course, for the Zero Waste committee the perfect recycling bin would be no bin at all.  Zero waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. Any trash sent to landfills and incinerators is minimal. The process recommended is one similar to the way that resources are reused in nature.” Zero waste - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  From the beginning of a product’s life to the end there would be no waste.


However, we are a long way from Zero Waste.  Just getting folks to recycle is difficult, let alone trying to get industry to forgo elaborate packaging and new designs so their projects are ready to be reused and recycled.  The public, the shopping public, desires their stuff in the most attractive and personalize way possible—which is an anathema to reengineering it all back into an environmentally friendly afterlife. 


There are products that are difficult to recycle, some that don’t have a market, and (let’s be honest) a lot of folks who just don’t want to bother recycling even when the perfect recycling bin stares at them in the face.  I’ll ignore trying to remedy this last excuse because the chances of someone who has no interest in recycling getting this far in this essay is about the same chance that Superman or Superwoman will save our planet. 

For those who do care, there is a lot of thinking going on about recycling by individuals and groups and kids coming out of college wanting to do good for the planet.  The Sierra Club thinks about it a lot because one of the issues with trashing the planet with trash is the Climate Change connection.  For the Sierra Club, Zero Waste and Climate Change go together: Climate Change > Zero Waste > Sierra Club


Stop Trashing the Climate” provides compelling evidence that preventing waste and expanding reuse, recycling, and composting programs — that is, aiming for zero waste — is one of the fastest, cheapest, and most effective strategies available for combating climate change. This report documents the link between climate change and unsustainable patterns of consumption and wasting, dispels myths about the climate benefits of landfill gas recovery and waste incineration, outlines policies needed to effect change, and offers a roadmap for how to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within a short period. Significantly decreasing waste disposed in landfills and incinerators will reduce greenhouse gas emissions the equivalent to closing 21% of U.S. coal-fired power plants. This is comparable to leading climate protection proposals such as improving national vehicle fuel efficiency. Indeed, preventing waste and expanding reuse, recycling, and composting are essential to put us on the path to climate stability.”


At Greentopia, at the Zero Waste table, we had a chance to talk to the general public about hard to recycle stuff, how happy folks were with the new expanded recycling, and how impossible it is to get those who don’t recycle to recycle.  The real conundrum, as far as I can see, is that we often forget who or what we are.  We are not a species that was sent down from another planet to trash this planet and then go to another planet and do the same thing.  We evolved here and by some freak of evolution have become the most ‘intelligent’ species and the stewards of Earth—and mostly we act like a bunch of adolescents who’ve suddenly been given the keys to a candy and beer store.  If there isn’t an immediate and certain retribution for trashing the planet, what’s to change our behavior? 


Certainly not landfills, which encourages the delusion that our stuff is being taken care of properly and helping the environment by providing a methane power source (which at best is only 20% of this wildly effective greenhouse gas) that landfills produce.  The rest of the methane warms our planet’s atmosphere. 


Certainly, not the marketplace; the marketplace can find markets for some trash, but the marketplace, the invisible hand, has no special love for our environment.  As a matter of fact the market place rather hates being told what to do—like being responsible to our environment.  The marketplace is merely a mindless, economic, algorithm that allows many to forfeit their moral responsibility to this planet by demanding that we conduct our behavior by how much it pays.  (This might explain why there are a lot of Hollywood movies about ‘hit’ men and women: Hey, killing people pays and that’s OK.


OK, I’ll get back on topic: The perfect recycling bin will attract some folks who just need a little nudge to do the right thing.  The rest of the public who thinks recycling is a code word for ‘boring’ are not going to take responsibility for their product’s complete life until someone slaps them with a fine.  Then, they’ll rant and rave because they’ll think big government should get off their backs and stop taxing them—which, by the way, pays for those folks who (in some communities) come and take away their trash. 


If only we could force the ant community to haul away all our stuff.  There are a lot of them and they do this sort of thing anyway, mindlessly carting stuff away.  They’d just happily busy themselves in their little ant numskull ways marching our spent stuff to who-knows-where-or-cares and we’d be free of even thinking about trash altogether.  (Click on my email for feedback)




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






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.]





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: with (EV event) in the subject line.


October 2011





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. 





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.]