A Recycled Earth Day Lin’s Bin

Has Earth Day lost its mojo? No one even seems to pay Earth Day the usual lip service anymore. Is it because the environment is now a partisan political discussion? I just don’t know. But five years ago I had some thoughts on saving the earth for a Lin’s Bin. In honor of Earth Day, I share the original script. Happy Earth Day everybody.

Dear Lin,

How come grocery stores (or at least those I go to) no longer ask if I want paper or plastic? They simply assume I want plastic. Then I get a nasty look, like I just ruined their day, when I ask for paper. All for trying to do my part to save the Earth!! What gives?!?!

-Benjamin D. Bain

Saving the earth might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

People have moved on.

This is not to say I haven’t seen signs that point to the greening of America.

We still celebrate Earth Day where people in brightly colored shirts pick up the litter on softball fields. No, that’s not all that happens on Earth Day. There are press releases.

And now they’re emailed!

I know what you’re thinking. Are the major corporations on the biodiesel, wind- generated bandwagon?

I judge a corporation’s commitment to the environment the way everyone else does.

Is their logo painted green?

If it is, I think we can overlook any lapses like dumping ammonia into fresh water lakes.

What’s the fuss? Everyone knows that kitchen cleaners now with more ammonia help keep our stovetops clean. Why can’t the same chemicals help keep our lakes and oceans clean?

The EPA (still don’t understand what those letters stand for) has limits on how much heavy metal can be discharged into Lake Michigan. As you know, heavy metal has gotten a bad rap since Black Sabbath.

A coupla years ago, Maureen Martin wrote an article for The Heartland Institute.

Let me just say, just the name of the organization makes it sound like a group of people who are biased against destroying the planet so they may have an agenda.

Ms. Martin wrote,
“Another separate source of Lake Michigan contamination is hazardous wastes hauled by Chicago-area industry to northwest Indiana and dumped there. They include PCBs, arsenic, PAHs, lead, other heavy metals, and other contaminants to the lake, sent for dumping by hundreds of Chicago-area manufacturing companies. As a result, there are 475 toxic waste sites, a staggering number, in northwest Indiana.”

I wonder if those toxic waste sites have considered more environmentally friendly signs and logos.

Maybe a green and blue circle with a tree and an earth friendly slogan like “Earth, love this place.”

Here in Chicago, we can be proud that we are upgrading our recycling to be the envy of the recycling world.

Where we used to put recyclables in plastic blue bags and then drop them in the same garbage can with old meatloaf, coffee grounds, and used diapers, we have progressed to blue garbage cans.

This new method must be very scientific because you don’t need to separate the paper from the cardboard from the clear glass from the green glass from the brown glass from the aluminum foil from the tin cans from the aluminum cans. You just dump it all in the blue plastic garbage cans. I keep saying to my wife. Is this right? We just put all of it in the same bin?

And she says, “that’s what it says” although I can hear just a smidge of skepticism in her voice as if she’s wondering how the separation of all this garbage would be humanly possible. Maybe it’s not.

What happens to this sweet potpourri after its collection?
I can only imagine a vast space that resembles the North Pole in the movie version of the Polar Express where thousands and thousands of well -trained garbage elves transform this mountain of recyclables into neat separate piles.

Paper or plastic may be the least of our worries, but I do have a question.

Do ya think they could put more than two items in each plastic bag?

More from Lin Brehmer

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