February 27, 2014

Editorial: No excuse for some pollution


---- — Some of us can remember those days of ignorance before we came to an understanding of what trash, junk and assorted other refuse being buried in Mother Earth was doing to her.

Some of us, better informed now, aren’t doing much to help her out.

We used to think that pouring tons of paper, plastic, metal and just about every other used-up material was simply transporting a problem out of our mind. The earth beneath was virtually infinite, people thought, so, if we didn’t want it, dump it into the garbage.

We’d leave our automobile engines running endlessly, spewing fumes into the air, and few people questioned that — after all, gas used to sell for less than 30 cents a gallon, so wasted fuel was of no consequence.

Have a little paint left over after renovating the bathroom? Not enough to be of any use? Put it out for the trash collectors.

Little by little, thanks to the environmental movement of the 1960s, we began to understand the damage we were doing to our host planet by such thoughtless attitudes and actions.

Now, it’s well established that irresponsible disposal of materials crammed under the ground is taxing our environment.

And yes, if you are wondering, the Press-Republican is printed on recycled paper, for the most part, and it is recyclable again. People can also read our “paper” on their computers, tablets and smartphones.

Grocery stores, when packing up goods, used to ask whether people wanted paper bags or plastic. Now, plastic seems to be the conveyor of choice. But most grocery stores have large receptacles where customers can bring back those plastic bags to be recycled, used again and kept out of the landfills.

Some even give a few pennies of discount to customers who bring reusable bags in which to take home their groceries — an even better alternative to recycling the plastic bags.

Now, it’s possible by responsible shopping and consumption to keep many, many materials out of the ground.

Yet, go to a landfill or collection station on a breezy day, and you’ll still see plastic bags blowing around. Why?

Because many consumers are still either too lazy, too ignorant or too irresponsible to take the simple steps necessary to spare our landfills.

How much effort does it take to unpack groceries, store the bag until next trip and return it to the store? Almost none. But it is still too much work for far too many people.

The means are now there to make important progress against pollution. There is no excuse for anyone not to comply.

We are still stuck with certain difficulties in protecting our environment, but many have been solved. We must at least act on the methods that are so accessible and easily accomplished.