More Jackson County Opinions...

AUGUST 14, 2002


Column
By:Rochelle Beckstein
The Jackson Herald
August 14, 2002

Waste not, want not
Paper towels. Paper napkins. Toilet paper. Paper plates. Plastic spoons and forks. Sandwich baggies. Ziploc bags. Saran wrap. Disposable Tupperware. Disposable bakeware. Disposable diapers and wipes. Disposable dust-rags, window-rags and mop heads. Disposable pens and lead pencils. Junk mail. Cereal boxes. Coke cans. Toothpaste tubes. Banana peels. Apple cores. Old shoes. ... ...
It’s all waste. If I included cheaply-made quality-less products the list would grow without end. You know what I’m talking about. The plastic toy in the bubble gum machine. The blender that was on sale and isn’t worth the money to fix the thing two years later. Cheap knives that can’t be sharpened. Pans that lose their finish and subsequently their pan surface. The cheap stuff that isn’t biodegradable. The stuff that will sit in landfills long after our life is over. It doesn’t seem possible that a $29 pan set can cost our environment so much more. But it’s true. And here’s another riddle: as people become aware of the dwindling amount of space left on our Earth for garbage to go, why do disposable products and the amount of trash increase exponentially? Is it a lack of caring or do people think it is someone else’s problem? I think it is our problem and one we need to address.
In 2001, over 409 million tons of municipal waste was generated in America, an increase of 26,435,000 tons from 2000. Thirty-two percent of the 409 million tons of garbage was recycled—a one percent decrease in recycling rates. After compensating for the trash that was recycled, every person in the U.S. threw out .979 tons of garbage, most of it reusable or recyclable. It’s a sorry picture, but it gets worse. The 409 million tons is only the municipal waste which accounts for less than 20 percent of the country’s total waste. The other 80 percent of the waste includes a combination of hazardous, industrial, infectious, and other wastes that are disposed in non-municipal, commercial, or private facilities. The 20 percent also doesn’t account for trash that is burned or trash that is illegally dumped on the roadside.
Since 1990, more than 11 billion tons of domestic and foreign waste have been disposed in the U.S.. That is enough to cover every acre in the nation with 4.7 tons of waste. Relying on EPA’s Franklin Associates, which calculates price per ton of municipal waste disposal at a conservative $100/ton, the total cost to consumers for 11 billion tons of garbage is in excess of $1.1 trillion. That’s a bill we can’t afford. But some states think trash is good business. Pennsylvania imported nearly 10 million tons of trash in 2000, an action that should be mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency, but they have effectively washed their hands of the whole business. In 1976, Congress passed the Solid Waste Disposal Act which gave the EPA authority over waste management in the United States. The Act required states to create and implement ‘State Plans’ that would maximize waste reduction and recycling. State Plans should have been submitted to the EPA, approved and implemented by 1980. That timeline was not met. Since 1981, the State Plan provisions of the Act have been largely ignored.
“The U.S. is sinking under an endless avalanche of waste, with no credible plan of action in sight,” says Lynn Landes, founder of Zero Waste America, in 1998’s State of the Nation’s Waste report in 1998. “The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a legal obligation under the Solid Waste Disposal Act (or Resource Conservation and Recovery Act-RCRA) to require that states maximize waste reduction and recycling. Federal law also requires that states provide Solid Waste Management Plans. Instead, states have a patchwork of programs with loopholes large enough to drive a trash truck through.”
Meanwhile, Georgia was named fifth in the nation for generating the most waste at 14,645,000 tons in 2001 just behind such giants as California, Florida, Texas and New York. Though it was named last of 14 states that recycle the most in the nation, Georgia was actually only one percentage point above the national average. That means that as a whole the nation is not recycling. If you’re a bad seed among very bad seeds, you’re still not a good seed. Case in point, Georgia’s 14,645,000 tons of garbage tossed out last year with only 33 percent recycled, leaves the total waste sitting in local landfills at 1.333 tons of garbage for each person, That gives Georgia the distinction of being ninth in the nation for worst waste management.
We can do better.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.

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Column
By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
August 14, 2002

Trying to understand church
Please understand. I am not “dissing” the church. I believe that’s the word young folks use when they mean “showing disrespect.” I don’t understand why — or how — they come up with those new words.
And I don’t understand church.
Now, I am not talking about the real church. I am talking about the man-named, man-ordained, organized, institutionalized, denominationalized church.
Now, if there’s anyone out there who understands that church, HELP! Please get in touch with me.
Now, what do you bet that some guy doesn’t call or write? He’ll ask me what’s not to understand.
After all, he’s been a member of the church for 51 years, ever since he was 12, and knows everything, religiously speaking. His mama and daddy, and his grandmama and granddaddy, were members of that church. And he is trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to get his kids and grandkids involved in that church. He understands his church, but not his kids.
His church practices that old time religion, which was good enough for his ancestors, and ought to be good enough for his offspring. He doesn’t understand why they don’t understand.
His church’s message hasn’t changed, and he isn’t about to let anybody change its methods. “We’ve always done it this way.”
The music is just fine, thank you. They still sing the same old hymns in the same old way, and that is one of the reasons our man is having trouble getting his kids and grandkids involved.
Gospel rock, as well as riff-raff, has no place in church. Riff-raff includes anybody that isn’t like them: drunks, prostitutes, adulterers, income tax evaders, cheaters, sinners and such.
He just declares that everybody loves everybody. It’s always been that way. In the 51 years he has been a member, there hasn’t been the first fist fight, fuss, argument or disagreement.
Every new preacher is better than the old preacher, especially the old one they just ran off.
His church welcomes only good Christian white folks, or, as the case may be, only good Christian black folks.
The only Sunday school literature allowed is what his man-named, man-ordained, organized, institutionalized, denominationalized denomination approves of. And if you aren’t a member of that church, don’t even think about volunteering to teach it. Don’t even show up unless you bring the “real” Bible: The King James Version “just like it was writ.”
Well, the guy’s about to wind down, but before he goes he tells me one last time that he absolutely without a doubt understands church, that everybody loves God and each other, that there’s never been a fist fight, fuss, argument or disagreement, and that none of the members gossips, drinks or runs around.
Furthermore, I ought to be ashamed of myself for disrespecting the church (I said I wasn’t doing that), and if I don’t change my ways I’m going to wind up in a bad place.
This is the same guy who tells you that he and the missus have been married 47 years and never had a cross word.
Good for him.
I’ve never been in a church, or a marriage, like his.
Considering my tenure and “religious” experiences, I ought to understand the church, but I don’t. I am sorry.
There was a period of about ten years —Navy and college — that I didn’t darken the door. But I was trained up right, and I guess that’s why I’m in church most Sundays now.
I don’t know this for sure, but I’ll wager my mama had me at the little Methodist Church in McLemoresville, Tenn. (population 311 if you count dogs, cats and chickens), the Sunday after I was born. And she insisted that I be there until I dropped out of high school and went off to the war.
Daddy never went to church until he was up in years. He waked up every Sunday morning with a hacking cough and running nose, and said he thought he was taking a cold. Miraculously, he was all right when we got home and mama got dinner on the table.
My mama was the daughter of a Methodist circuit rider named Virgil Pafford — my namesake, incidentally — and Methodist is pretty much what I have been all my life, among other things.
The rumor that some Baptist started a year ago is just that — a rumor. It is not true that you can be a Methodist and believe anything.
However, I know from personal experience that the Methodist Church is a pretty inclusive outfit. (Outfit?) You don’t have to jump through a lot of hoops and be voted on to join. I joined in 1935, and they haven’t kicked me out — yet.
I have in front of me another denomination’s tract that lists three ways to enter in. But before you get all the way in, the congregation has to vote you in, sort of like becoming a member of the Augusta National Golf Club.
Most Protestant churches, I guess, claim to be the Body of Christ, but most Protestant churches, I’m pretty sure, are also the Body Politic. Some of the churches I’ve been in, especially around election time, spend a lot of time lifting up the names of politicians. If I may do a little preaching here, that’s not the Name they ought to be lifting up.
Politics, the churchly kind, is certainly a part of Methodism. This is no more evident than when the big event — General Conference — is held every four years somewhere in the world. Good Methodists wouldn’t kill to become a delegate, but the way some of them run for the privilege makes Roy Barnes’ campaign for governor look like a Sunday school picnic.
A South Georgia friend of mine, Turner Bostwick, was a perpetual delegate to this awesome event. Turner told me one time, “Virgil, I have been to four General Conferences of the Methodist Church, and I still believe in God.”
(Note to the flock: This started out to be a 750-word, five-minute column, but like some preachers I know, I got carried away. Please come back next Wednesday for a continuation of “Trying to understand church.”)
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.


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