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You can’t hug the trees if there are no more trees


Well, at least you seem to have gotten over your fear that we’re all going to be forced to eat Veggie Burgers this week. I can’t say that Styrofoam boxes seems that much more exciting on the surface, though…

But! As I read through your diatribe, I see that this goes far beyond the simple act of outlawing Styrofoam packaging… we’re going full on environmental warfare here.

Count me in!

I go way back with environmentalism. When I was in the 6th grade, me and a bunch of other nerds were part of a little brain gang called “Odyssey of the Mind.” I don’t really remember too much about it other than we had the opportunity to go to a seminar called “Future Problem Solvers,” where the greatest minds of my generation (who were 12 at the time) were given a topic that had the potential to be a disaster in the future and asked to come up with a solution.

If I’m doing the math right, this would have been around 1985. Back then, the only real messages we had about our environment were that sad Indian fellow crying about litter and that cartoon owl that told us to “Give a hoot, don’t pollute!” By then, all the Hippies had grown up and gotten corporate jobs, so they weren’t too keen on saving the planet anymore either.

The topic that year was “What should the world do to address the issue of the massive amounts of trash and waste being produced?”

There were several groups from schools all over the Mid-South there, so what did the 12-year-olds come up with? Our group’s solution was “shoot it all into space,” which sounded a little stupid later in life… until I read about proposals to do exactly that! There were other ideas, such as burning it to generate electricity, like you do with coal. There was put it in the ocean (future Republicans there! Ha!), and of course, we could recycle it!

Well, we didn’t really have that word back then, so it was more like “We could break it down into its parts, clean it up and use it again instead of making more things and producing more trash.” It helps if you read it like a little kid telling Santa Claus what he wants for Christmas…

So, anyway, Michael, I’m pretty keen on saving our environment. As Al Gore once pointed out, “It’s the only one we’ve got!”

I will give you one good point, though. Folks can’t seem to make up their minds about what is and isn’t good. We turned to plastic everything to save the trees and slow the plundering of Mother Earth for raw materials, but now plastic is bad, right? Well, except that no, Michael, plastic isn’t bad… how we throw it away is what’s bad!

We just toss it in the trash, along with the evil Styrofoam that inspired this whole column, and it piles up or it gets into the ocean where it somehow strangles dolphins or whatever.

I hate to be the guy who blames everything on you Baby Boomers, but I’m going to do it here, because it was that generation that should have set the policy when plastics were first being incorporated into everything. Plastic does not biodegrade, and they knew that from the beginning.

Why not start with a return/recycle policy? You guys figured it out pretty quick with glass, right? Leave the empties for the milk man, return your Coke bottle to the store for a nickel? How hard would it have been to do that with plastic right from the start?

You know, it’s your generation’s fault we’re STILL not using the metric system even though literally the entire rest of the world is!

I’d chalk it up to simple ignorance, but the truth has been out there for at least 30 years! What it really comes down to, Michael, like it always does, is money. It’s cheaper and easier to just keep making our landfills bigger and taller.

I’ll invoke the message of Al Gore once again, the inventor of the Internet and patron saint of the environment. In his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” he shows a scale with a pile of gold bars on one side, and the entire planet on the other. He says a lot about it, but what it boils down to is the simple fact that it will not matter how many gold bars you have… if there is no planet!

I guess there’s still the “fire it into space” option.

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