Bags and straws are the villains of the day when it comes to trash.
The obsession over these two small pieces of the waste landscape by local and national environmental organizations has eclipsed what strikes me as a much more grave problem: more than 80% of the plastic varieties we were recycling just last year (six of seven) are now going in the trash.
The apathy about this seismic shift in recycling is disturbing.
While activists wring their hands about a viral video of a sad turtle with a drinking straw in its nose, they largely dismiss the recycling crisis.
The elimination of plastics, they say, is the answer. Recycling is old hat.
I think these activists have a long fight ahead of them against a very powerful opponent – basically every major consumer products corporation, not to mention oil companies – before we start to see a wholesale move away from plastic packaging.
You might as well say gas mileage doesn’t matter because we’re going to eliminate gasoline.
It has been frustrating to see readers’ intense interest in the local “bag bans” in contrast to widespread indifference regarding recycling changes.
Two people who were not indifferent were Michael Uhl, a writer who lives in Walpole, and Mark Ward, a scientist who lives in Bristol.
Troubled by the changes at their local transfer station, they transformed into trash detectives and set out on a mission to understand and explain the complex world of waste management.
Next Thursday, Aug. 22, Michael and Mark will host a community forum on recycling and trash disposal in Lincoln County from 6-8 p.m. at Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust in Damariscotta.
I am going to moderate the forum. Michael and Mark promise entertainment – I understand they have a skit of some kind in the works – as well as information and interaction.
They are inviting local experts and public officials to attend, and I hope they will. We need everyone at the table as we seek solutions to the problems of waste management in Lincoln County.
I look forward to the discussion. I hope someone will come and tell me why I am wrong about the importance of bags and straws.
That’s what a forum like this is all about – open discussion and open-minded consideration of solutions to a problem that affects all of us.