Friday, May 12, 2006

A System I Can Use

I love reading The Onion. It takes shots at every part of the political and social spectrum and is ruthless. Today when checking it out online I came across this article titled "I'm Doing My Inconsequential Part for the Environment." Pretty funny stuff. Here is the best part:

Every day, without fail, I meticulously organize my recyclables into five distinct categories, thereby subracting an eyedropper's worth of garbage from the countless tons of waste that ferment in landfills. It only takes an extra few minutes, but just think of the impact it totally lacks. I also refuse to use anything but "Earth-friendly" paper products - some of which contain up to 10% recycled materials. For me, it's worth shouldering the extra cost, but, unfortunately, only a scant few of us bother to do the same. And growing some of my own organic vegetables in my backyard garden also, to my immense gratification, reduces the use of toxic chemical-based pesticides and herbicides present in corporate farming techniques by as much as
0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000001 percent.

Writing like that makes my sides hurt because I see so many people like this every day here in Madison. Not necessarily my clientele, but the general citizenry.

Don't get me wrong. I like recycling - really I do. But I haven't been much of a participant until recently - we will get to that in a second after a lengthy digression.

I work in the business of heating and air conditioning wholesale. If your air conditioner breaks this summer and you call someone out to fix it, hopefully I will be the person to sell that repairman a new part or piece of equipment to repair your unit. I sincerely hope you don't have any problems this summer or any other time in the foreseeable future or you may have to take out a second mortgage. And it isn't anyone's fault. Copper, steel and silver - all metals used in abundance in all heating and air conditioning systems are at all time highs - we haven't seen silver prices like this since the Hunt Brothers did their thing in the 80's. Copper is the main bugaboo. Every air conditioner has tons of copper in it. The lines connecting your inside evaporator coil to the outside condenser are copper. There are even spot shortages happening on these lines (called line sets in the industry). We don't even do copper quotes anymore - just give prices over the phone and either they give you the order or they have to call back LATER THAT DAY FOR A NEW QUOTE. I wish I were exaggerating here but it really is crazy. Brass, used in many plumbing applications is made of copper. What I am trying to say is that not just in my industry, but ALL industries that use lots of raw materials will have skyrocketing costs. Don't be surprised. We have to seriously rethink our policy of sending all of our scrap steel and copper and whatnot to India and China and start reusing it ourselves. That recycling thing.

At my house we used to have a system where the paper went in one crate, the plastic and tin in another and foam, glass and other stuff in another. Then I had to haul all of this junk to the curb. Well, that was NOT easy so we basically didn't do it. But now someone at the local government actually did some thinking. We now have a 96 gallon plastic bin with nice, large wheels on it for ALL of my recyclables. Junk mail, newspapers, magazines, bottles, cans, cardboard, all of it - go into this huge receptacle. The non-recyclable garbage goes into another 96 gallon container, a different color. I wheel the two receptacles to the curb and that is it. That is a system I can use. My recycling is definitely up I would say at least 100%. In the old system the only time I would use recycling was over X-mas or if I was drinking beer in the garage and happened to be close to the recycling containers. I still feel that I am contributing to solving the world's pollution problems 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000001% like in the article above, but better than nothing and better than most, I suppose.

Like it says at the end of the Onion article, "Together, we can make an unbelievably negligable difference".

1 comment:

Frank Borger said...

Some years ago I was at a meeting in Portsmouth NH. Outside the hotel window was a grand view of the harbor. it wasn't pretty because there were two giant piles of material next to a ship from the far east:

The ship was adding to the pile of calcium carbonate, (the stuff that melts ice in lower temperatures because it's more reactive, but also causes cars to rust out big time.)

When the ship was empty, it filled its hold from the second pile, which was ground up steel, (from the cars that were rusted out by stuff from the first pile,) which went back to Korean steel mills.

Global recycling.