Tuesday, November 28, 2006

We like to think we go through life unwatched. The truth is that people are always being watched in one way or another. We can't help but look, stare, double-take, observe, study. Communication in a species so poorly evolved physically is one of our only assets.

On saturday I was heading out of town and stopped to buy gas. The man on the other side of the gas pump tossed a handful of things into the garbage can, some of which didn't quite make it in. He of course ignored it, but I noticed that what was left was a AA battery.

From a UC Berkley webpage: "The toxic heavy metals and corrosive properties of batteries make them unsuitable for disposal in the municipal trash. Alkaline and other batteries contain caustic electrolytes that can cause severe chemical burns if the electrolyte comes into contact with the skin or eyes. Many batteries also contain toxic heavy metals like lithium, silver, cadmium, nickel, and mercury. Toxic metals in landfills have the potential to contaminate surface waters and groundwaters."

Picking up the offending battery, I told him he "really shouldn't" throw batteries away, they're highly corrosive and should be recycled.

"Oh yeah? Well gas is bad for the environment and you're filling up your car right now."

Did I fail to mention previously that this man was driving a Denali? A luxury SUV which gets up to 16 mpg city, according to GMC's website? I don't know what my little Grand Am gets but I'm pretty sure it's more than that. What this arrogant bastard failed to realize was that he, of all people, should take more care with the little things like batteries. We lead toxic lifestyles and most people couldn't care less. According to one of my biology professors, 38.2% of all household waste is comprised of paper products which are completely recyclable.

Typical Household Waste
Paper............ 38.2%
Yard waste.... 12.5
Plastics......... 10.2
Food waste... 10.0
Metals........... 7.6
Rubber.......... 7.0

I'd imagine that in the not-so-distant future, landfill salvage will be a very profitable business.

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