Friday, April 24, 2015

End of A Recycling Era

In my previous post on this subject I described aspects of the changeover here in recycling systems in terms of a philosophical change: from "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" to "If in doubt/Throw it out."  But there's a little more to the local story.

The previous system I described--hauling our recycling to the Arcata Community Recycling Center at our own discretion--was otherwise without cost to us.  ACRC was a nonprofit enterprise.  Eventually they charged for certain kinds of electronic recycling, but they also paid cash for certain items.  Basically however, the price was in the effort to get it there, which wasn't much effort, and was often enjoyable.

Now our recycling is picked up weekly, and we pay for that service.  It is mandated by city government--a weekly recycling charge no matter what.  Part of a dubious trend of government forcing you to pay money to a profit-making business. You can have less than fits into the bins but not more.  This requires tearing cardboard into strips rather than simply flattened boxes.  So there's still work we do, but we also pay.  Arcata Garbage is a profit-making company.

Last week saw the official end of Arcata Community Recycling Center as an entity.  After they closed the local center shortly after Arcata Garbage started curbside, they maintain a sorting center nearby, and continued to bid for recycling from local communities.  After allegedly tricking them into revealing details of their operation, another profit-making company underbid them for a big contract.  They sued, and last week, facing more attorney fees and legal costs, they settled out of court for a piddling amount, and announced they were folding.

There is still some community-based nonprofit reycling going on--ACRC cites Zero Waste Humboldt as one.  Still, ACRC's demise seals the end of that era, with the reminder that we're paying for it--Arcata Garbage makes money not only on recycling but from us.  And lessens our involvement in the process, as well as personally my confidence that much of this stuff is actually being recycled.

Yet Another Reason to Avoid Adam Sandler Movies

I've had a fairly longstanding policy regarding Adam Sandler movies, which is that I would not only not ever pay to see one, I would have to be paid a substantial fee just to sit down for one long enough to eat a bag of popcorn.  He's one on my list that involves a sliding scale of fees, but he's definitely near the top of it.

His brand of humor has never struck me as funny, being of a kind that invites what has finally happened: twelve Native American actors have walked off the set of his latest film, protesting the utter racism of its humor.  Now I am on my guard about overdoing this sort of thing, but even without examples of the actual lines etc. I have no trouble believing they're right.  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

That Which Must Be Named

That which must not be named in Florida was named in Florida, big time, as President Obama marked Earth Day with a speech in the Everglades about the climate crisis.

“This is not a problem for another generation. Not anymore,” he said. “This is a problem now."

One of many stories on Florida in the climate crisis. Here's another from National Geographic.  Here's the speech, which included these words:

"And here in the Everglades, you can see the effect of a changing climate. As sea levels rise, salty water from the ocean flows inward. And this harms freshwater wildlife, which endangers a fragile ecosystem. The saltwater flows into aquifers, which threatens the drinking water of more than 7 million Floridians. South Florida, you’re getting your drinking water from this area, and it depends on this. And in terms of economic impact, all of this poses risks to Florida’s $82 billion tourism industry on which so many good jobs and livelihoods depend."

"So climate change can no longer be denied. It can’t be edited out. It can’t be omitted from the conversation. And action can no longer be delayed. And that’s why I’ve committed the United States to lead the world in combatting this threat."


Here's an article on e-waste with an unsurprisingly theme: there's a lot of it, it's growing fast, especially in big countries that talk big about environmentalism.  But there are two interesting elements in this story: what constitutes e-waste, and what a waste it is.

Most of the e-waste in this model, in bulk at least, is made up of "fridges, washing machines and other domestic appliances at the end of their life."  In other words, large appliances that have some electronic components I guess.  60% by weight comes from these sources, and only 7% by computers, printers, cell phones etc.--stuff that we more readily think of as e-waste.  Weight and number are two ways of measuring it but neither quite gets at environmental impact.  But there's quite a bit with contaminating metals, compounds, chemicals and gases.

However, there's this: "Waste that could have been recovered and recycled was worth $52bn, including 300 tonnes of gold – equal to 11% of the world’s gold production in 2013."

Which suggests further problems with recycling and recycling industries.  It seems to me that after a much publicized start, government at all levels have dropped the ball on making recycling work, let alone the priority it must be.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Best of What's Still Around

I saw this for the first time in the full concert footage and didn't recognize the performer.  I heard a good voice and especially heard good diction--as great as Sting's lyrics are, he doesn't always sing them clearly, especially with the Police.  So I understood some of these lyrics for the first time.  Turns out of course that it's Robert Downey, Jr, aka Ironman etc.  With Sting (yeah the shaved head looks weird, don't know what that was about) and a great backing band.

I've been aware of this concept of the Bucket List for a few years but didn't have one.  Now I've got one item.  I'm not deluded enough to say "sing with Sting" or in a particular venue.  I'd just like to sing on stage with two or three hot lady backup singers.  Just one night.  I've got sweet backup voices on my one and only record but we did our parts separately (I didn't even meet the sax player whose solos are my favorite moments until years later.)  But I've never had that experience in real time.  I suspect it would be a bit of an out of body experience, but maybe a video of it would allow me to savor.