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[GreenYes] Some thoughts on the present and future direction of this movement
Thanks very much to Peter Anderson for his excellent comments re: 
opposing tax credits for landfill methane recovery for power production. 
The critique was accurate and to the point. I especially liked the 
statement about the characterization of this proposal as yet another 
subsidy to the "waste management" industry, which it certainly is. I also 
liked the point about revitalizing our soil. This is one way to get off 
the chemical fertilizer treadmill.

Just as federal law forced states to require the use of lined "sanitary" 
landfills, so too must federal law, it seems to me, be used to force 
landfill operators to stop taking organic materials (except perhaps in 
very limited emergency situations).

It's all too easy to get trapped into a mindset that perpetuates 
unacceptable behavior because someone presents a partial solution that 
looks better than doing nothing yet in effect only serves to reinforce 
and institutionalize the bad behavior--with our apparent blessing!

I don't know if advocates for reduction, reuse and recycling fully 
realize the great potential for change that exists within this 
movement--so long as it continues to be alert to scams such as this tax 
credit proposal, and is willing to challenge them promptly and vocally. 
We must continue to struggle to prevent corporate interests from moving 
in and co-opting the efforts of grassroots activists to make these 

As I'm sure you all know, it is not enough to recycle. In some cases 
recycling itself not only misses the point but also serves to perpetuate 
environmentally unfriendly industries. Our movement is, or should be 
about reducing consumption, first and foremost. Secondarily it's about 
reusing products. Only way down the line should recycling be discussed. 
That's why I sometimes think that GRRN should change its name to Grass 
Roots Consumption Reduction Network, or something to that effect, to 
properly emphasize our advocacy priorities. We have done a good job, with 
industry's help, in educating the public about the need to recycle. In 
other words, we have gotten along well with industry on the 3rd and least 
important element of our mission. Where the most important challenge 
today lies, I think, is in promoting the message of Reducing Consumption 
and Reusing Products. I don't see these important messages penetrating 
through to the ground level, and this is I think a problem partly of our 
own making. By working hard to establish markets for recyclables, we have 
in some ways shot ourselves in the foot in terms of closing markets (or 
pubilc demand) for reusables and for source reduction.

Case in point: the California Redemption Value (CRV) law that created a 
recycling industry of sorts for single-use containers but did not mandate 
reuse. While certainly many folks thought that this compromise was a step 
in the right direction, it can only be seen that way in the context as 
being good for the beverage industry and those successful businesses that 
recycle single-use containers. It was a step backward for reduce/reuse 
advocates because it is arguably more difficult today to push for 
meaningful reform of the California bottle bill.

But industry likes recycling, because they can greenwash their own bad 
practices by touting their "commitment" to recycling. And we all know how 
hollow those stated commitments ring, witness the plastic bottle crisis. 
Industry is rolling right over us and we seem powerless to stop it, in 
part because these plastic bottles are promoted by the industry as 

One look at the annual NRC conference shows how many of the very 
industries that created the messes we're trying to clean up have weakened 
*that* organization's effectiveness. Co-optation of the NRC by industry 
created a need for GRRN, and the continued recognition by all of us that 
a significant portion of GRRN's value as an independent grass roots 
organization depends upon our ability to effectively communicate to the 
public the true, revolutionary meaning of Reduce Reuse Recycle, and to 
make certain that recycling does not continue to obscure the real purpose 
and goals of the materials use efficiency and waste prevention movement.

Thanks for your consideration,

David Orr
Moab, Utah

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