Stirring it up (Part 3)

Posted by Ken Campbell March 14, 2010 0 Comment 823 views
We took Micah to his first play last night, The Incredible Undersea Trial of Joseph P. Lawnboy, at the Tacoma Little Theatre. It was a good experience for the boy, an hour long was all, with plenty of lights and singing. The subject matter was environmental propaganda aimed at an early childhood audience, mainly centered around how pollution affects our waterways and what each of us can do to help. The characters central to the story included a fish, a loon and a mayfly larvae, all done up in colorful costumes and telling the story of how dirty water is bad for all living things. I happen to agree with the point of view that the drama espoused (if anything, I don’t think the recommended solutions – recycling and taking shorter showers, for example – go nearly far enough.) Then again, I was not the target audience for this bill, and Micah loved it.

There was a certain irony for me in watching this environmental drama unfold on stage. One of the things I’d done at work yesterday afternoon was clean up all the plastic and cardboard packaging from a kayak delivery that had come earlier in the week. Just for fun (if that’s the right way of phrasing it), I pulled it all into the parking lot and made a pile, all the sheets of styrofoam, the oversized plastic bags that all the boats are wrapped in for delivery, the heavy, white foam blocks, the bubble wrap and the amazingly thick cardboard boxes, 18 feet in length. When I’d finished, I had a pile about 20 feet long and 10 feet wide, a dome of discarded packaging that rose to a height of about 6 feet, composed mostly of plastic.

And, consider this: the pile was the shipping remains of 30 kayaks, all but two of which were plastic boats. So, other than the two fibreglass boats (which had been shipped in the large cardboard boxes and cradled in the sytrofoam), all of the plastic wrapping piled there had been used to protect kayaks made out of plastic. A layer of plastic, covering plastic, encased in more plastic. It’s like putting your Tupperware in a Ziploc bag. The whole sordid thing is insane on so many levels, but the thing that gets to me most is the inherent hypocrisy this pile in the parking lot represents.

This outdoor biz is supposed to be a green industry, all the way up from consumer to retailer to manufacturer. The idea is that we are all connected to the environment in some deeper way because of the sports that we engage in; because we operate amid such natural beauty and wilderness, we will necessarily feel a closer bond with nature. I hope very much that this is true, but plastic piles in the parking lot and plastic boats on the rack shake my confidence. When you say one thing and do another, we have a word for that. Just as important, I’m not sure that any outdoor activity, however physically and spiritually valuable it may be, is entitled to make this much garbage.

How many shades of green are there?

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