GreenYes Digest V97 #184

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GreenYes Digest Fri, 1 Aug 97 Volume 97 : Issue 184

Today's Topics:
1998 CRRA-Call for Papers-Due 8/1
INFORM is now online
The mission of GreenYes
Who are We?

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Problems you can't solve otherwise to

Date: Thu, 31 Jul 1997 21:34:28 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 1998 CRRA-Call for Papers-Due 8/1

REMINDER: Call for Speakers are due 8/1/97 (see below for details).
Packets to review committee will be sent out next week, to develop Draft
Agenda for 1998 CRRA Conference at Planning Meeting 8/14/97. Please fax or
email your proposals ASAP!

Call for Speakers
The 1998 Annual Conference of the California Resource Recovery Association
(CRRA) will be held May 3-6 in SAN DIEGO. Mark your calendar now for an
exciting, inspiring learning event.

Building Bridges, our 1998 conference theme reminds us that we are not alone
in our desire to do the right thing for the planet. Environmentalism spreads
across many boundaries and it's time for the members of the CRRA to reach out
to these other groups. The success of the environmental movement depends on
coordinated efforts by broad-spectrum groups.

Tracks and Subtopics

Building Bridges....
... to Markets - Where will the future markets be? How do we develop stable
... to Environmental Partnerships - Perspectives from other environmental
Surfrider Foundation, Sierra Club, CALPIRG, Audobon Society etc.
... across Borders and Cultures - Reaching out to Native Americans about
environmental stewardship, looking at the international flavor of
... to Education - Colleges and Univerisity operations programs & academic
programs, Educating primary & secondary teachers on environmental issues
... through Professional Development - Building your own personal base of
remembering why you're in this business
... with the Government - Local, state and federal programs- how can we work
them, how can we help them to change with us
... to the Agricultural Community - Composting and biosolid issues
... to the Business Community - Business environmental programs- how can we
adapt in the corporate world?
... between the Waste Community and the Recycling Community - Are there model
programs that we should be emulating to builid better infrastructure for
... to Source Reduction and Reuse - The very first steps
... to Zero Waste - The goal for the future- how to define this to build
bridges with
... to the Military - More base closures are on the way, how do we work with

For the first time, CRRA conference participants will be invited to
particpate in a community service project- giving back to the local community
that's hosting us.

Please submit your ideas and proposals in 100 words or less by 8/1/97 to:
4395 Gold Trail Way, Loomis, CA 95650; email them to; or fax
them to 916-652-0250. Questions? Call Gary Liss at 961-652-4450 or Krista
Henkels, Conference Chair at (619) 534-0919.


Date: Thu, 31 Jul 1997 17:34:32 +0000
Subject: INFORM is now online

INFORM, a national nonprofit organization that identifies practical ways of
living and doing
business that are environmentally sustainable, is pleased to announce that
its Web site is now
online. INFORM's research areas include sustainable products and practices,
and its waste
prevention researchers are nationally recognized experts in the field.

To visit INFORM's new Web site, please go to

Jason Fox


Date: Thu, 31 Jul 1997 23:12:28 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Roger M. Guttentag" <>
Subject: The mission of GreenYes

Dear Steve and other list members:

I have been reading messages, including yours, posted to this list since
3/97. I agree with you that many of the messages digress from what I
understand to be the mission of this list which is to discuss and move
forward the sustainable economy agenda. However, I can't see this situation
changing as long as GreenYes remains an unmoderated list. Human beings, as
with any other unfenced lifeform, have a tendency to roam widely regardless
of the signs that are posted.

Of greater concern to me is that many messages appear to be in the vein of
preaching to the faithful, emotive venting, ad hominum attacks or sophomoric
disgruntlement with our current economic arrangements. Unruliness in the
debating arena is tolerable and perhaps even somewhat desireable (to keep
the proceedings from becoming too staid) as long as there is a core of
disciplined dialogue ocurring. Unfortunately, in my opinion, I don't any
evidence that this core exists. This is a problem.

Our ability to effect practical changes leading to a more sustainable
economy through legislation, education, life style choices, business
practices and religious activities depends upon a foundation of clearly
articulated values, principals and goals. These are forged within the
crucible of reasoned, honest and courteous debate. There are many issues
which would benefit from this kind of debate. Steve raised some of them in
his previous messages. Central to many, if not all of them, is the question
"Is robust economic growth and declining resource utilization a compatible
set of goals that are achievable?" I think all the list members will say
"of course!" Then what are the right arguments to use for convincing the


Roger M. Guttentag


Date: Thu, 31 Jul 1997 19:45:55 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Who are We?

Yesterday I put a little piece on my saw buying adventure on the
GreenYes listserve. Today I got what was mostly a very nice response from a
lady in North Carolina. (I love this talking to stangers all across the face
of the Earth)
But she had one comment I got concerned about: She asked me to write
less..... she asked me to not bother to explain such concepts as
"externalized costs", and aksed me to be more succinct.
My problem (as one of the founders of the GreenYes Listserve) is that
this listserve was initially envisioned to generate a dialoge on "resource
conservation" issues. It was intended to be a place where people can rant
and rave and argue about the issues. It was to be a place that would inspire
some to go out and launch events and movements. It was envisioned to be a
vehicle to get this movement moving again after a period of stagnation. And
to a large degree it was envisioned to be a place where people from outside
the "recycling" industry could come and earn about this part of the movement
and thus become educated and thus help! It was to be a way for different
environmental movements could come together and realize the commonality of
their causes and hopefully begin to work together more.
Instead I am finding people from outside of the recycling community are
dropping out because we have become too specialized. We talk in a lingo they
do not understand, and talk so specifically about narrow topics that they get
lost in the details..... it becomes too much for them. We are losing the
very people we've been trying to attract!!!!
I am worried!
The very GreenYes issue that my piece was in had in it: One unsubscribe
notice, someone looking for a shredder, a request on information on "
Continuous Product Ownership" and "Energy in Aluminum Cans", a job
application for a recycling coordinator, and an for van rentals, as well as
my piece. So - we have five very industry selective pieces, one ad, and my
piece - Maybe it's my ego, but frankly I think my piece is the only one that
fullfills the above goals, and the only one of interest to someone wanting to
learn about how recycling relates to anything else.

I'd like to suggest that people wishing specific recycling relate
information found only from recyclers join RECYCLE digest
( which is a well run recycling specific listserve. I
subscribe to both and have noticed how more and more both listeverves seem to
have the same stuff on them..... I think this is wrong!

I think we are doing big disservice to our listserve by turning it into
a recycing listserve and shutting out those we are so trying to recruit....
I think the GreenYes listserve by it's very title does NOT imply recycling
alone, and ought to remain more general!

Any comments?


Subject: Repair & More

(Hello everyone! I had this experience yesterday....some incomplete thoughts me work them through if you can.... Thanks, Stephen Suess)

I have this long red fiberglass pole that extends out to twelve feet
with a little cutter and a saw blade on it. I use it to trim some of the
higher branches off the trees in my yard. Well the saw blade broke in some
silly accident and I needed a new one. Being ever the handy guy I try to be,
off I went to the local store where I bought the thing in the first place.
It seems that a new saw blade is $25....the whole contraption, brand new is
$50! My first reaction was that perhaps I should just buy the whole thing
new.... then I did a double take and got to thinking that the little saw
blade on the end of this huge thing could not possibly represent half the
cost of the whole unit.... why such a high price for the replacement blade?
And isn't this typical of costs for repair parts?
In this particular example I suspect that there is a careful calculation
being made. Charge enough to push many people into buying the whole saw new,
yet for those who do value the $25 have a replacement available at a price
not too high to completely piss them off so that they take a completely
different approach and use a different system altogether. Remember the game
is to maximize profit, not minimize resource depletion..... and by and large
this means selling as many of the of the whole units as possible to
maximizes profits. (This occurs because of the increased efficiency of
producing larger quantities and minimizing the hassels of selling large
numbers of different small pieces.) If convincing people to throw away
perfectly good units by making repairs difficult, then sales go and profits
go up.
(I realize that in higher priced items such as cars, ovens, etc. high
costs of replacement parts often has to do with the costs of keeping long
term inventory of a few old parts, as well as the ability to charge high
prices for cheap parts to keep high priced articles running - but I believe
that this case of the saw is somewhat different.)

Now my mind in its weird way started to tie this event to the Soda Pop
industry and how they keep saying that it is the consumer that really ought
to pay for disposal not the manufacturer - after all the consumer buys it,
thus it is theirs. What has happened to say a Coke or Pepsi is that they
have managed to trade in their hundreds of bottling plants and tens of
thousands of employees for a handful of mostly automated plants where the
products go one way only. It is a much simpler business for a CEO to manage
and think about. (I have this theory about economists: They assume business
seeks to do things in the most cost efficient manner possible, so that when a
Coke goes from refillable bottles to throw aways, they assume it is less
expensive and thus make sure the numbers come out that way. Of course it
helps to skew taxes and subsidies to make sure it happens..... - The point is
that it didn't have to happen, but did to make life for those who run huge
corporations simpler - What is the economics of that?)

It seems to me that both examples are understandable business decisions
that lead to someone foisting trash on me. (To put the above arguments in
another way: it costs something to make that trash, which means that someone
is making money off my trash - not to even begin to speak about who is making
money hauling the stuff away.) To continue on this vein, this kind of
thinking will also lead to products which are made and marketed in such a way
as to be heavy on packaging, rapidly obsolete, or unrepairable, or rapidly
replaced by new fashions. Business become focused on the need to come up
with ways to sell us more and more - often of the same old thing. They say
that this creates jobs, money and a healthy economy.

Now for the kicker: This all works because of what we've been referring
to as the ability to "externalize" some of the costs associated with
manufacturing. By this - business is able to make someone else pay for such
things as disposal, pollution costs, and to make the pot even sweeter, we
even subsidize many of the raw materials and transportation costs. In
addition, we've all - somehow - agreed to work harder and harder to make all
this stuff, so we can throw away more of this stuff. It seems that many of
us now have two wage earner families with too little time to spend with the
families of simply enjoying being alive. (How did we get into this rut
anyway? And how do we get out of it? Couldn't we make do with a fraction of
this stuff and live say 90% as well with half the work? {I don't know these
numbers, does anyone out there know them?})

So I found myself at the end doing the environmental argument - If it
lowers the cost of manufacture to externalize the cost of resource depletion
and pollution, and the public buys the cheaper (at least for that moment)
item, then the environmentally correct (internalized cost) item will always
be more expensive, and thus never sell as well as the other one. Because of
these subsidies and hidden costs our taxes will always go up and out quality
of living will always go down to cover these hidden costs. I remember Paul
Hawken telling me that when you marginalize your raw materials you eventually
also marginaize your people. Jerry Brown had the same theme in mind when he
said Zero Waste includes stopping the waste of human resources. It seems to
me that they may be correct - it is all a part of the same theme. Why
doesn't the public understand this? Why are things the way they are if we do
understand this?

I don't think there are bad guys or good guys here - just a system some
have bought into, others have not, most of us to some lesser or greater
degree - and that is where the arguments come. Is it an addiction to
consumerism that is biological to a degree? Is it a stubborn belief that
these bad things can't happen here? Any thoughts?


End of GreenYes Digest V97 #184