We're all aware by now of the need to conserve resources. We all know that we shouldn't be waisting or despoiling the planet. Of course, we all know we're not supposed to do a lot of things, but we do them anyway. That's why there are laws and regulations.
But in the environmental arena, there are self appointed watch dogs, government appointed watch dogs, rules regulations, laws, practices and fads. And among the fads are some really stupid miscarriages of good ideas. Like plastic water bottles. First, the marketing gurus noticed that people would pay for bottled water from springs and sources of high repute for taste, purity, or other supposed characteristics. So they jumped on the band wagon, touting the benefits of bottled water. The thing is, much of it was simply tap water sold with a fancy name--not better than what you got at the nearest faucet. No matter, it sold like hotcakes.
Fast forward, and disposable plastic water bottles have become a problem--they are taking up lots of space in landfills, and not getting recycled. So there is a backlash. And the backlash got to be fashionable, so that even the reusable plastic water bottles--like the ones we carry hiking, fishing etc, are now considered to be bad. To the point that on some college campuses, they are banned. In at least two instances I know of, fines are imposed and students required to buy stainless steel water bottles.
In another, even more interesting development, we have The Great Grocery Bag War. There was concern about the ecological impact of paper grocery bags, mostly concerning the production of dioxins in the paper making process, and the use of wood pulp, and hence logging, as a base material. So the move was on--use plastic! Why if chose paper instead of plastic (some of us can remember being given a choice, "Paper? Or Plastic?") it was tantamount to killing Bambi! Fast forward again, to more recent times, and suddenly people realized that plastic grocery bags didn't rot. And, they had this nasty tendency, being light, to blow on the wind, into the sea and suffocate sea life. Not really a good thing, actually.
So now Eco conscious people use reusable grocery bags, which are actually a good idea. Especially if one is smart enough to use some inexpensive fibre like jute or sisal. But that's not working out to well either. It seems that many reusable grocery bags, when worn out, are Hazardous Waste. No kidding.
It seems that who ever makes the Reusable Grocery Bags for Winn-Dixie and Publix have made them out of materials that contain a high level of lead. So when they hit the trash, under current regulations, they are hazardous waste. Notice, though, that they are not considered hazardous to put you groceries in. Apparently, there are new regulations in the pipe to correct this. But i have to say, What were they thinking?
There are lots of good ideas out there to improve the environment, reduce pollution, and ease the demand of scarce materials and overstressed resources. But somehow, when it comes to environmental questions, emotion simply devours reason, and we go heading off into strange little solutions that later prove as undesirable as the problems they were meant to solve. It simply raises the question--are the mavens of environmental salvation simply incompetent to the degree that they cannot think things through?