Mary Lawton with a seasonal note. Until the leaves come back, this is how chic trees make a fashion statement.
And Willie & Ethel with a related take.
I've lived in a couple of places where paper production was a major part of the local economy, given which the idea that grocery stores would even dare to ask "paper or plastic?" surprised me at first, until I became numb.
And noticed that even the mill workers were responding, "plastic," which I guess is just part of how the world works.
The numbness began a long time ago, mind you. The first chapter, as I recall, was in 1970 or '71, when they started selling milk in plastic jugs instead of glass bottles. We were appalled that limited petroleum products were being wasted on one-time-use containers when glass bottles were not only made from more abundant raw materials but could be sterilized and used again.
A very few years later, we made the still 50/50 choice to use cloth diapers instead of disposables. That son was born in 1972 and I finally threw out the last of those wonderful dust-cloth/washrags when I moved back East in 1987.
I'd say 15 years of useful life is a pretty good argument in favor of cloth diapers, but we did use Pampers for road trips, which makes sense, and then -- gasp -- second son was so sensitive to soaps that we were faced with triple-washing cloth diapers or giving in to the Great Plastic Inevitable.
At that point, the "which is better for the environment?" arguments about bleach and electricity and so forth went from easily dismissed pro-petro sophistry to something we needed to actually try to figure out. (Funny thing is, he grew up to be the greenest of the kids. Maybe an unconscious drive to repair his environmental karma.)
But here's what I've learned in the intervening decades: Self-serving industry codswallop certainly obscures the truth on one side, but preconceived notions on the other side can be just as deceptive, albeit more innocently.
F'rinstance, it's much easier to toss around sophomoric terms like "dead trees" than to deal with the complexities involved, and I've had to disabuse school children of the idea that newspapers are made by destroying rain forests, while still convincing them of the critical importance of recycling.
Paper comes from softwood, which is sometimes farmed like other crops but can also be sustainably harvested from forests.
In fact, there has been a push in that direction, and, when I was in Maine, I covered a situation where Verso lost the contract to provide paper for the LL Bean catalog (a big contract!), not because their methods were not sustainable, but because they had failed to obtain the necessary authentication that they were.
And I heard about sustainability not just from the Verso spokesman, but from individual loggers, including my nearest neighbor. They have no problem with using proper, sensible methods to protect both their forests (most are avid sportsmen, one friend was also a moose guide) and their future livelihoods.
So paper is not made by destroying rain forests.
Except in Indonesia, where it is, or it was, or something. Pressure on fast food companies obtained at least a partial victory in that fight.
And then there's this: The trees may be sustainable, but the particular process whereby that sustainable pulp is turned into "finished" paper -- i.e., the harder type, like office paper or packaging materials or glossy magazine paper -- until relatively recently was creating dioxins which then had been going into the water. (Things have since improved.)
Willie isn't the only one who mostly gets it wrong, because there's no correct answer. Well, except "neither," but then you have to remember to bring the canvas bags. Which means you have to be smarter than Willie. There's a personal goal for ya.
But going back to Mary Lawton's cartoon, the real issue with plastic bags, the reason communities are beginning to ban them, isn't so much that they are made of plastic but that they are made of such light, flimsy plastic. Litter is one problem, aerodynamic litter is another.
My office window, back there in beautiful Maine, faced the road, across from which was forest and a creek and an auto body shop. Auto body parts come covered with a protective plastic film, which you can just peel off. A thin, bright blue plastic film, sometimes three or four feet long, that then blows away and festoons the trees in the forest along the creek.
Heavier plastic would use more petroleum products, but at least it would stay put, and perhaps might have a greater chance of being recycled. If that is, indeed a sustainable thing to do.
This is, but, while it's great for the women involved, I don't think it's an actual answer to the problem.
Sigh. And it seemed like such a good idea at the time.
Speaking of sustainability ...
Adam@Home has been riffing on the ultra-chic fad of coffee-passed-through-a-colon, which is here portrayed as the colon of a lizard rather than that of a civet cat.
Not sure why. I don't think civet cats have lawyers.
If they did, they'd probably sue over working conditions, but I doubt many growers actually go to that expense when lying is so much easier and more cost-efficient.
For which evidence I turn to Dean of Dean's Beans, my connection for sustainable caffeine, whose blog postings not only speak of dubious practices in "Fair Trade" marketing as it moves from co-op to co-opted, but specifically addressed the civet cats of Sumatra with this fascinating travel piece, which is worth reading beyond this excerpt:
At the hotel ten exporters are waiting. They all want to sell me kopi luwak, the famous coffee eaten by wild civit cats, excreted, then collected and processed by these guys. Kopi luwak retails for about four hundred bucks a pound, and in some hipster cafes you can buy a single small cup for twenty dollars. I know that about two-thirds of all claimed kopi luwak has been shown not to be the real thing by scientists who test the stuff, so I ask how much is available. Forty containers – 1,600,000 pounds! I tell the guys that there aren’t enough civits in the entire world to produce that much. What are they doing, force feeding their kids coffee cherries? They all burst out laughing and there is no more talk of kopi luwak.
To riff on a wise old saying, you can civetcatshit the fans and you can even civetcatshit the refs, but you can't civetcatshit the players.
Which only goes to show ya ...
... that even anti-plastic people can be pretty plastic. Or something. I dunno.