This heralding by the media of environmentalists unhappy with the latest ban on the deposit law just passed strikes me as an odd way to look at the halt in the NYS bottle bill that was supposed to go into effect on June 1st, and an odd way to see environmental issues in general by the media. Because, of course, shouldn’t everyone be miffed that the battle to remove discarded bottles from our streets, urban forests, our roadways (you-name-it, bottles are everywhere) via a popular measure (most New Yorkers are for this bottle bill) has been squelched by a judge, bottling companies, some politicians, grocery and convenience stores? [Note, local recycling newslinks: http://www.rochesterenvironment.com/recycling.htm]
The media sees a battle, not an environmental problem where an incredible amount of waste is piling up around us. For, the press cannot see the forest because of the trees: the forest--our environmental issues that jeopardize the sustainability of our way of life; the trees--the myopic way mainstream media frames environmental issues. Mainstream media see environmental issues as a series of battles, oftentimes only with those opponents willing to step up to the microphone. Allegedly, the rest of us are dozing on the sidelines. It is as if while their train is plummeting off a cliff, passengers watching a fight in the aisle between the brakeman and the engineer believe they have no stake in the events about to unfold.
In this story about the ban on this bill, what is missing is the incredible amount of trash littering our world, the loss of natural resources, and the needless use of energy making our stuff that is polluting our planet. It’s not about squabbles going on by groups of angry people remote from our existence: It’s about how we (every one of us) conduct our business (economics) and whether or not we can keep doing that—without depriving our children of a future.
At present, our environment is failing, pollution is building, our energy sources are warming the planet…, and the list goes on and on. The tragedy of this bottle bill ban is that solving the larger problem of the trash build-up in our environment is on hold because the media cannot conceive of a way to report on it other than framing it as a long battle interspersed with a few good verbal whacks on each side.
Here’s some recycling matters our media could be reporting on until April of 2010 if they weren’t so dysfunctional: instances of volunteers taking the initiative and cleaning up our parks and trails in this Recession; seeing that our county enforces existing laws on haulers land-filling recyclables; making sure that televisions taken to the curbside because of the signal change on July 12th do not go into landfills; finding out if we in Rochester have recycling audits like Buffalo to see how many of us are actually recycling; finding out why our county doesn’t recycling beyond #2 plastics like Ontario County does; finding out how the recycling market affects recycling locally; find out where recycled products get recycled properly; finding out about programs to develop community composting programs that might remove some 10% of our food waste from landfills and sell as compost; finding out what local entrepreneurs are doing to create jobs in this area to keep trash from landfills; and maybe even compile a list of local recycling places for our residents to recycling properly—like this list: Donate, Recycle & Reuse