dubsola wrote:Isn't it better to focus on things you can do than things you cannot?
Not when that focus equates to turning a blind eye to the actions of entities other than private individuals and their part in the problem.
Telling people to set out their recycling bin every week is all well and good. Mandating it by law, as some have done in areas around San Francisco, is an interesting step with practicality issues but overall probably a good thing. Be that as it may, making personal responsibility the focal point of the issue of waste management is a horrible, horrible mistake that's being strongly supported by corporations who for decades have devoted immense advertising budgets to the task of framing the debate over environmental and regulatory issues.
As an individual, I can make the choice to recycle the plastic blister pack around the screwdriver I just bought at Ace. Together, if we all make a good decision, we can recycle a lot of plastic and make a huge difference. Just look at how much damager we, private individuals, are doing when we don't recycle! Just look how we, private individuals, have the power to be the solution!
The above is how the Ace Hardware Corporation, a multi-billion-dollar entity which manufactured and packaged the screwdriver I just bought, would like to frame the debate. (I am using Ace purely as a general example; I don't know whether they package their screwdrivers in blister packs, just that I have seen plenty of unnecessary plastic packaging around tools in hardware stores that are basically pieces of very durable metal.) A business entity such as Ace might spend quite a bit of money advertising for personal responsibility in order to position themselves as an eco-conscious member of the marketplace, improving their corporate image and possibly also their sales (though this tactic has become so widespread and disingenuous that I'm not sure how effective it is at generating sales; certainly there are more effective ways to use advertising dollars just to generate sales). But that's not all that's going on. Large corporations like Proctor & Gamble, Exxon Mobil, Wal-Mart, etc. employ very intelligent people to develop long-term strategies that unfold over years and decades. Some of these strategies are intended to influence public opinion, and thereby, potential legislation and regulation. By framing the debate as an issue of personal responsibility on the part of private individuals and/or government's responsibility to encourage private individuals to recycle, industry is implementing a long-term strategy intended to deflect, discourage or otherwise protect against harsh regulation which would cut into their bottom line.
At the end of the day, one individual working in upper management at the hardware company could make the decision to stop selling their screwdrivers in plastic blister packs. Or maybe it would be two dozen individuals. It's certainly a hell of a lot fewer than the number of everyone who ever buys a screwdriver
, and it would reduce the amount of plastic being manufactured to a far greater degree even than mandatory recycling of every blister pack.