Rendered Fat Content


Louis Maurer: View of Forty-third Street West of Ninth Avenue (circa 1883)
"Convenience seems SO over-rated."

More than a decade ago, this small city stopped recycling glass. They first tried smashing it up to mix with asphalt to produce so-called glassphalt for paving roads, but immature technology and the incoming stream quickly overwhelmed that strategy. Now it just gets dumped into the landfill where it should retain much of its original character for centuries because it's just too expensive to ship it off to Portland's glass foundry to be melted for reuse. Couldn't each user pay a recycling tax or something to balance the market price? Since Trump bungled a trade deal with China, the plastic we used to export there for recycling and reuse has likewise been routed directly to your local landfill where it will also retain much of its original character far into the unforeseeable future. The Petroleum Institute spends millions advertising how their plastic products are 100% recyclable, but most of this nation maintains no facilities for actually recycling any of it. That plastic bottle of imported water should outlive your great great grandchildren. The primary benefit from all this landfilling might eventually become the ease with which future generations should be able to research our profligately shortsighted nature. We inhabit an out-of-sight-out-of-mind society yet continue to believe ourselves somehow enlightened.

Since relocating here with the intention of SettlingInto the place, I've caught myself changing what I purchase.
I no longer buy my milk in those handy one gallon plastic containers, but opt instead for those recyclable half-gallon paperboard alternatives, even though with those, I still need to carve out the handy little plastic spout before discarding the empty and I pay a little more than twice as much for the privilege. I'm seeking someone here who still sells milk in reusable glass bottles. But many of the products I use have no reasonable alternatives. I wonder why Proctor and Gamble doesn't distribute their products in bulk containers and encourage their customers to reuse their forever plastic Dawn® bottles. I'd think that distribution would be enormously simplified and I suspect they'd scheme ways to even improve their margin. If we're intent upon saving this planet, we could contribute a little more Yankee ingenuity. Discarding something just because the container's empty seems genuinely silly.

I'm facing a similar dilemma over lawnmowers. Most here still seem to use those gas-powered rotary jobs that produce more carbon emissions that all the coal mines in China. I know, they seem to puff so little smoke but they're terribly inefficient. Worse than that, their rotary cutting action bruses and mangles even the best-cultured lawn. Also, their little gas engines tend to be conundrums, finicky to start and impossible to maintain. I owned a gas powered weed trimmer once and it proved almost impossible to start. I'd spend about twice the time I'd spend trimming, struggling to get it started. Of course the string would exhaust itself in about three and a half minutes, requiring me to deliberately stop the thing, restring it, then commence with another fifteen minute restarting period featuring most prominently, the damned thing NOT starting! I use an electric now and I'm seeking an electric alternative to my 1911 unpowered reel push mower, but I'm not finding much. A cordless electric reel mower seems unavailable, though I found one manufactured in The Czech Republic that sells for a little more than $3,000. It seems that the alternative to unsustainable and inefficient little gasoline engines requires attempting to corner the world's Lithium market or dragging a cord behind when mowing. Lithium's probably even more poisonous than carbon. I suspect that I'll opt for the humiliating inconvenience of dragging that cord behind me brings or just sticking with the sustainable me-powered mower as long as I'm able. It's good aerobic exercise, I guess.

Fortunately, this place features one of the world's great grocery stores which contains dozens of bins holding almost everything. It's possible to PreCycle here, by which I mean bring along pre-weighed quart containers to fill with whatever they offer in bulk. No need to collect a permanent plastic bag for each purchase. A little forethought might not save the planet, but it might reduce my sense of contributing to its demise. Those municipalities which tax plastic bags a nickel each have raised millions to save The Chesapeake (and other places) while dramatically reducing local solid waste and litter. Yea, the back of The Schooner's full of reusable bags now in lieu of cargo, but this seems a small price to pay so that our planet might eventually have a one day again. It's recycling day here and I contributed my share, appalled that our wine bottles are destined for permanent storage rather than reuse. I'm dusting off the composter and shopping for red wiggler worms and still shopping for a dairy using reusable glass containers. I'll try to push that ancient mower through the lush lawn today. Convenience seems SO over-rated.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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