Thursday, April 03, 2014

Recyclers of the World! Unite!

I went on a field trip with Lamb recently which explored water issues. It was interesting.

A lot of the trip was interesting. I saw a local dam, our water treatment plant, part of a creek that goes right by my home before it gets to the place we went, and the local landfill and recycling plant.

I helped keep an eye on the kids on the trip. Except for the latter thing, it was all rather cool since I saw things I've never been to despite living here for so long.

I kept my mouth shut to ask the earnest guide if any of their recycling efforts turn a profit or whether they rely on outside money to keep operating. Nor did I ask in what alternate universe are we about to run out of land for landfills.

I'm skeptical of the worth of recycling.

But what struck me about the recycling plant we toured was the nature of the grubby, industrial-style work that it requires. Mind you, I'm grateful that we don't have multiple recycling bins in many colors dotting our streets.

But recycling is not the hippie-style communing with nature that you'd think with all the "green" propaganda that tells you that you are a good person if you buy products with that little "recycled content" logo. So jet off to ski in Colorado guilt-free!

Watching the score or so of people I could see manning the conveyor belts and heavy machinery in the large sorting plant reminded me not of happy hippies, but the auto factory assembly line tours I went on in grade school seemingly every year.

But instead of slowly growing cars moving down the line, loose garbage rolled down the line as workers picked out the pieces they were supposed to identify and deposit into their bins.

I bet these workers ski in Vail with clear consviences, eh?

And the belts zoomed by way faster than anything Lucy and Ethel had to cope with.

Then the isolated types of recyclables were fed into a machine and turned into large secured cubes that could be sold and shipped off to somebody to make something with them--including paper, which I thought was a renewable resource actually farmed to make paper.

It was a long field trip that required many stops with the bus, but it was fun to be on a field trip with my daughter and was more interesting than a lot of others I've been on.

But the recycling plant really got me. Karl Marx would have based his political theories on uniting these workers had he lived today.