Monday, January 21, 2019

Another 'Big Birthday'

Today is my birthday, and it’s another of the big ones. Last year, I thought having a “nine” birthday, was difficult, and I thought that by the time today arrived I’d be used to the idea. Yeah, well, I was wrong about that. Even so, things are definitely much better than they were last year at this time, and that’s a very good thing. That alone makes this a good birthday.

This year I turned 60, the first starting with a “6”. This means that it’s now only five years (or so…) until I reach retirement age, though it doesn’t seem long ago that the prospect of reaching retirement age was unimaginable because it seemed so very far in the future. In truth, it’s still pretty unimaginable, but I’m slowly getting used to the idea. Maybe by the time I get there I’ll be ready. But, then, I thought I’d be ready for 60 by now, and that didn’t quite go the way I’d hoped.

This birthday was actually pretty anti-climactic: After all the build-up, contemplation, and, yes, dread, when the clock ticked over—nothing. It’s not like I actually expected something to happen, it’s just that nothing was any different than it was at 11:59pm. I amused myself thinking things like, “this is the first time I’m loading the dishwasher in my 60s,” or “this is the first time I’m brushing my teeth in my 60s,” but, fortunately, I got over that pretty quickly. Those sorts of things were true in previous decades, but it never occurred to me until this time, so maybe that was the something.

My birthday party is on Sunday (the next day, Monday, is a public holiday), and we’ll be having family staying with us, so there were things that needed to be done. I originally said I wasn’t going to do anything today—that is, no work—but there were those things that needed to be done. Nigel did most of the stuff, but I did the bits and pieces I needed to do.

Because of the party coming up, we didn’t really do anything special today. Nigel made us lunch, using fresh tomatoes from our garden, and we had takeaways for dinner. Even though we had a lot to get through today, we nevertheless both also found time to focus on stuff we wanted to do.

Today ended up being low-key, making it a nice and relaxing day. That’s why those little chores that needed doing weren’t any sort of burden.

It turns out that turning 60 was no big deal. That doesn’t mean I’m used to it, but neither was I ever going to be upset by it. It is what it is. I have no idea what to expect from this decade, so I have a strong incentive to keep blogging and podcasting as I find out what happens next. Let’s see what this is all about.

And that’s it for this year’s birthday, apart from the party, of course. 60, huh? So far, so good.

Here’s my annual birthday selfie, this one taken shortly after my birthday arrived in my native Illinois:

The Illinois Route 60 sign is a public domain graphic available from Wikimedia Commons. The road goes from the Illinois Tollway toward the town where I lived until university. It passes the mall, then called Hawthorn Center, where I spent a lot of time as a teen. The U.S. Route 60 sign is a public domain graphic , which is also available from Wikimedia Commons. I don’t know if I ever drove on that road, but I may have when I was in university and made a trip to the southernmost tippy-tip of Illinois and crossed into Kentucky.

My Previous Birthday posts:

2018: The annual increasing number: 59
2017: The annual increasing number: 58
2016: The annual increasing number: 57
2015: The annual increasing number: 56
2014: The annual increasing number: 55
2013: The annual increasing number: 54
2012: The annual increasing number
2011: The annual increasing number
2010: The annual increasing number
2009: Happy Birthday to Me…
2008: Another Birthday

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The closing of a decade

Today is my “birthday eve”, but this year’s is a little different. Tomorrow I officially begin a new decade, so today marks my final hours in this decade. Obviously, it’s actually a bit more complicated than that. Many things are. At least it’s complicated in a good way.

First, each birthday marks the end of a year, not the start. Our first birthday marks the completion of our first year of life, and so on. That means I’ve all but completed the first year of my new decade, and tomorrow what actually changes is the tens digit of my age. Still, that’s what makes the decade change official, as well as something we may actually be able to feel.

The other important point is that I wasn’t born here in New Zealand, so, technically, my birthday actually begins some 20 hours after it does here (7pm tomorrow New Zealand time), because that’s when my birthday reaches my native Illinois. This is why I celebrate my birthday over two days. I mean, why not?

Of course, I could put it off even longer, to the actual time I was born, a few hours later still, but that could be splitting the hairs a bit too much. Maybe.

As I said last week, this birthday’s been on my mind a lot lately. I’m not sure I’m any more used to the idea, and I still kind of feel that someone’s made an arithmetic error somewhere or other, because I can’t possibly be this old.

On the other hand, I'm okay with the general concept of getting older, not the least because so many people never get to do that, including lots of friends and family members. Like my parents. Getting older, as the saying goes, is a gift not given to everyone. How could I be upset or whatever about getting such a precious gift?! That doesn’t mean I’m necessarily ready for it, but I'm appreciative all the same.

This evening I was watching a YouTube video that briefly mentioned bidets, and I suddenly realised that I had no idea how they’re actually used. Other YouTube videos told me. So now, at the very end of my 50s, I know how bidets are used. This decade hasn’t been wasted!

A little humour seemed to me to be the perfect way so spend a little of the time waiting as I count down the minutes until my new age and official entry into my new decade. Time always moves forward. I try to do the same.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Another conspiracy theory that isn’t real

The USA’s far-right is awash in conspiracy theories, so much so that sometimes it seems as if they have no time for anything else, including ordinary life. Those conspiracy theories permeate down into the ordinary conservative world and supporters of the Republican Party who spread and spread fact-challenged and elaborate theories of “what’s really going on”. There’s one going around that most people seem unaware of.

The conspiracy theory says that the shutdown is being deliberately prolonged because, they say, after 30 calendar days, or 22 working days, all federal employees furloughed in a shutdown can be fired through a procedure called “Reduction in Force” (RIF). The claim started with an anonymous piece published by the far-right site, Daily Caller [I never link to far-right and questionable sites, but you can copy and paste this link: https://bit.ly/2spIhGT] supposedly written by a “senior official” in the current regime. Maybe. Maybe it’s an elaborate trolling of the gullible in the rightwing media and online groups. Or, maybe it’s real, but, shall we say, uninformed.

That was picked up and explained in self-referential style by lots of entities on the USA’s far right, one in particular tried to connect the dots [again, copy and paste the link: https://bit.ly/2W3g9ai]. They, like many other rightwing sites, also referred to a partial explanation of the RIF process [I haven’t had time to evaluate the source, so: https://bit.ly/2T2VwsS].

When I first heard about the conspiracy theory, I was extremely sceptical. It’s a lie, for example, that federal employees can’t be fired for cause, and if a worker was really deliberately frustrating the current regime’s agenda, that would be cause for disciplinary action. At worst, the worker would probably have to be given the opportunity to improve their performance, which is fair, but non-performance is non-performance.

But then I remembered something. In May of last year, the current occupant of the White House issued three executive orders intended to make it easier for government agencies to fire federal workers. They also placed strict limits on union activities. A federal judges said NO.

However, there was also the fact that the current occupant himself asked Congress to make it easier to fire federal workers, and members of his regime have complained about how hard it is to politicise the federal bureaucracy. Well, that’s not exactly how they expressed it, but it was clearly what they intended to do: Stack the bureaucracy with loyalists who would do anything, legal or not, to advance the regime’s goals.

So: Is there anything to this?

Probably not. As Snopes recently pointed out, the rules for RIFs only apply to “administrative furloughs”: “A planned event by an agency which is designed to absorb reductions necessitated by downsizing, reduced funding, lack of work, or any budget situation other than a lapse in appropriations.”

What is currently happening is classified as “emergency furloughs”, which results from a lack of appropriations. The main difference is that “administrative furloughs” are planned and foreseeable, while an “emergency furlough” is dependent on action by Congress, which on its best days is unpredictable.

So, the law is clear that the current regime cannot use the RIF process to fire workers because of an emergency furlough—but that doesn’t meant they won’t try. Lawsuits, court injunctions, and more legal defeats for the current regime being the inevitable chain of events.

But while all that was happening, people wouldn’t be talking about how much serious legal trouble the current occupant is, so maybe distraction’s the real plan. Once again.

And, anyway, it’s common enough for the far-right to fall for credible-sounding but completely wrong conspiracy theories.

Earlier this evening, I saw a meme that said that Congress had passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006 and appropriated $50 billion to build a border fence, but President Obama never did, so where did the money go, and maybe that’s what Democrats were trying to hide. Say what?!

Meme-spreaders (Right or Left) almost never check out the accuracy of the memes they share, so it’s not surprise that this one is flat out wrong.

In 2006, during the time of Bush the Second, Congress did indeed pass the Act, but they appropriated only $1.4 billion; the $50 billion figure comes from estimates: “the whole cost, including maintenance, was pegged at $50 billion over 25 years”. Very different numbers.

The Department of Homeland Security complained that the specified fence wasn’t appropriate for all areas of the border, and in 2007—Bush the Second was still president—Congress amended the Act to allow the DHS Secretary to decide what was best.

By 2011, when President Obama was in office, DHS reported that they’d completed 99.5% of the fence. In 2016, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that fence had been completed in 2015. In 2017, the GAO reported that $2.3 billion had been spent to deploy the fence—which actually was more extensive than what Congress mandated—and that it would require billions more to maintain.

So: In 2006, Congress appropriated $1.4 billion for a border fence, and not $50 billion. The fence was built and completed during the time of the Obama Administration—repeat that, the fence mandated by Congress was completed, and it was done during the time of President Obama. Nothing about the rightwing meme was true.

That’s two rightwing conspiracy theory memes busted in one post. Whew! I better take some more time off from blogging!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Shadow of summers

Time was, New Zealand basically closed down for the month of January, sometimes starting at Christmas, sometimes ending in early February. Those days are over, with the country’s globalised economy now virtually non-stop (apart from the three and a half days on which there’s a trading ban, only one of which, Christmas Day, is in summer). Long summers with lots of businesses closed and not much happening are mostly gone, but sometimes there’s a small reminder.

The above two marketing fliers were distributed together this week, and provided a bit of a remembrance, a shadow, of summers of the past.

The “Back to School” sales are because New Zealand’s new school year will begin between January 28 and February 7 (it varies a bit from place to place, but schools must begin their year sometimes between those dates). Because the summer break is the longest, some parents will arrange their annual leave so they can have time off with their kids, and that means they’re facing “Back to Work”.

These days, there are plenty of parents who can’t arrange their work/annual leave schedule around their kids’ school holidays, for any number of reasons, so for them the “Back to Work” isn’t relevant. It won’t be long, perhaps, before such a flier wouldn’t be relevant for anyone.

This is sad for some people: A part of New Zealand has disappeared. It was a way of life that I read about when I first moved here, but even by then the reality was that many people didn’t take lots of time off in January. Some still did.

Until very recently, it was common to have a hard time finding suppliers of some goods or services in the first couple weeks of January. I know from personal experience how frustrating this could be for someone trying to get projects done around the house while on summer holiday. However, home centres have become the norm, rather than local hardware stores, and pretty much everything needed for household projects can be found easily, with no more that the statutory holidays (and that Christmas Day trading ban) standing between them and completing their projects.

I have to admit that, since I never experienced the old ways, I’m fine with the way things are now. In the Internet Age, where we can order nearly anything online and get it delivered—sometimes on the same day—it’s natural to expect stores and service provides to be open, too.

As it happens, I’m off the month of January each year, so I’m kind of a throwback to older times. Also, I’m not: My being off in January doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s life or summer. So, for me, there really is a “Back to Work” time, and that flier is relevant. Like, it reminded me I really want to get a smaller desk.

Even though that particular flier was relevant for me, it’s still a sort of shadow of summers long gone, ones I had a small hint of, but didn’t actually experience. It's an unusual amount of social significance from an ordinary marketing flier.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A company’s campaign gets it

The video above is from a company that makes men’s grooming products. The campaign seeks to help men be better men, which is a worthy thing, even if some may not think so for whatever reason. There was a time when such issue marketing never happened, but I think when it’s relevant, it’s a good idea. Why not use their marketing power, and access to the target market, for good? And this video IS good.

The video is from men’s personal care products brand Gillette, which decades ago adopted the slogan, “The Best a Man Can Get”. The campaign is called “The Best Men Can Be”, playing off their product slogan and setting an aspirational target. They said in a statement on their site:
It’s time we acknowledge that brands, like ours, play a role in influencing culture. And as a company that encourages men to be their best, we have a responsibility to make sure we are promoting positive, attainable, inclusive and healthy versions of what it means to be a man.
This is a reference to the fight against what’s popularly called “toxic masculinity”, something that many on both the Left and Right don’t seem to fully understand. I’d sum it up as: Don’t Be An Arrogant Jerk to Everyone.

Toxic masculinity is about what’s toxic to men. It’s what robs men of their emotions except for anger and aggression. It’s what leads men to trying to be the “alpha male”, dominating everyone around them, too often aggressively or even violently. It leads men to assume that every woman is sexually available to them, or that they have the right act toward them as if they are. It leads them to dismiss, discount, victimise, and bully those they perceive as weaker, men and women alike, even if only emotionally. And it means men must never cry.

It leads to rape and sexual assault. It leads to bullying and attacks on gay men—or those merely thought to be gay. It leads to aggression and fights over nothing. And it leads men to strive to achieve an ideal of the “perfect man” that almost no one can naturally be, setting them up for failure, self-loathing, and more aggression arising from the shame and frustration of not being that “perfect man”.

The solutions are to let men be men—no one is talking about changing that at all. Instead, it’s about getting men to stop objectifying women, since that leads to dismissing women, and on to sexual harassment and even sexual assault. It’s about getting men to understand that bullying is wrong, and that achievement, competence, and compassion earn respect, and brute strength does not.

“While it is clear that changes are needed,” Gillette said in their statement, “where and how we can start to effect that change is less obvious for many. And when the changes needed seem so monumental, it can feel daunting to begin. So, let’s do it together.”

And that’s the key: Men helping men change. We’re the only ones who can do it.

I saw some pushback against “toxic masculinity” arguing that the bad things it describes are “natural” for other animals, as if human beings are captive to our past and can never evolve, as if our powerful brain can’t see a problem and fix it. Human males are nothing like rams that violently butt their heads against each other to win sexual access to a ewe—we’re smart enough not to do that. The masculine traits of men that women and gay men find sexually attractive are NOT the same as for other animals, and it’s silly to suggest they are.

Then, too, some conservatives are deliberately misrepresenting what this campaign is all about by misrepresenting both its intent and what “toxic masculinity” is. Sometimes this is because they don’t understand what that is and how it hurts all men, regardless of ideology. Some do it to attack the Left, using it as part of their “social justice warrior” attacks.

Sometimes the Left doesn’t help things. They may use “toxic masculinity” as something to try to shame men who may not share all of the Left’s agenda. They use it as some sort of political litmus test, similar to what the Right does.

But “toxic masculinity” is real, and a real problem. We need to ignore politics and those who would seek to exploit “toxic masculinity” for ideological or political ends. We need to help men be better men, that’s it. The ideologues can look after themselves.

This isn’t the first time that a company that’s made money off of the stereotypical gender roles has tried to present an alternative, more positive message. For example, Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign tried to improve women’s self image, but the company itself was flawed. Gillette has faced criticism, and, of course, its parent company, Proctor & Gamble, has had many controversies.

This isn’t about the companies or their products. This is about a message, about getting men to talk to other men, and to model better behaviour that boys can emulate when they become men. No company is perfect, neither is any ad campaign. I don’t think that matters. The message is good, it’s from an appropriate source, and it may—just maybe—do some good, and, if it does, it’ll be the best thing we all could get.

The video below is the short version of the ad, suitable for broadcast television. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s anywhere near as effective.

The blame is his alone

Infographic: The Longest U.S. Government Shutdown In History | Statista

The USA is now enduring its longest-ever government shutdown, and the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of one person: The current occupant of the White House. He has been enabled by the US Senate’s Majority Leader and the Republican caucus, but they didn’t cause the shutdown, and they stand to lose if it goes on. Ultimately, Republicans are the only ones who will be able to get the current occupant to end his stunt, assuming that anyone at all can get him to understand reality.

The stunt is a pure partisan game that the current occupant is playing because he was scolded by a couple bloviating blowhard professional Republican moaners. Up until that point, he was willing to work on a bipartisan agreement, but the moment they nutty windbags criticised him, he freaked out and in his panic he abruptly changed course.

Since Democrats took control of the US House, they have repeatedly said they’ll pass the bipartisan measure the previous Congress had taken up. But the current occupant wants it his way only, and he’s trying to bully Democrats into doing his bidding. That’s never going to happen.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the US Senate are refusing to take up the previously-passed bipartisan spending bill, because their party's leader in the Senate is convinced he can continue to obstruct rather than govern, just as he did when President Obama was in office. This time he's obstructing the US House of Representatives, thereby enabling his president. Republican Senators, many of whom are vulnerable in the 2020 elections, won't tolerate that forever. They're the ones who can force the Senate to pass the measure so they can place ALL the blame on the current occupant when he inevitably vetoes the bipartisan bill. Their motivation—electoral survival—may no less self-serving than their Senate leader's or their president's, but despite that, it's the right thing to do.

Millions of Americans have been affected, from federal employees who may not be able to pay their rent or mortgage and who are seeking help from food banks, to contractors, to companies supplying goods and services to the US government, to ordinary people who want to do something the federal government controls. The current occupant doesn’t care about any of that, of course: It’s always first, last, and in between about him and his massive ego, and nothing more. He doesn’t care who he hurts or how badly he hurts them, because to him no one matters but himself. One thing that’s absolutely certain is that if those same bloviating blowhards criticised him for not reopening the government, it would be open again within milliseconds—or however long it would take him to type out the Tweet.

The chart below shows that a majority of Americans correctly blame the current occupant and the party he leads for this stunt. That’s more than the combined numbers of those who choose to blame Democrats or both parties equally. The other two charts of partisans; views may look like it just shows strong partisan feeling, and it does, but look at the differences between them: A mere 6% of Democrats blame their own party, while two and a half times that number of Republicans know their party is blame. Also, three times as many Republicans as Democrats blame both parties equally, which suggests many Republicans know their party is to blame, but can’t bring themselves to say so. This is why there’s 17 point difference in the numbers of Republicans who blame Democrats as opposed to Democrats who blame Republicans.

No one can say how or when this shutdown will finally end, or what it will take to get the Republican Leader of the Senate to act like a grown-up for a change. We can’t know how many people will ultimately be hurt by the current occupant’s petty stunt, nor how badly. But people will be burned while Nero fiddles.

Still, there’s one thing that both parties ought to do: Unanimously pass a bill saying that in the event of a government shutdown, the salaries of all US Representatives, US Senators, Cabinet Secretaries, the president and vice president and the Members of the Supreme Court will be stopped until the government reopens. If the politicians are going to play games and shutdown the government, then the elites must suffer, too. Or, they should outlaw shutdowns completely. But having one rule for the elites and another for common people is precisely why the numbers of Americans who approve of politicians is declining and the number who perceive government itself as being largely illegitimate are growing. And that’s a far bigger threat to the republic than the Narcissist in Chief or his lackeys in Congress.

Infographic: Who Are Americans Blaming For The Shutdown? | Statista

The chart up top on shutdown length through January 14 is from Statista. The other chart, on who Americans blame for the shutdown, is also from Statista. Both were released under Creative Commons CC BY-ND 3.0 license

Monday, January 14, 2019

Zeroing in on one week from today

My birthday is one week from today. After about 20, I’ve probably dreaded each “zero birthday” more than the one before. It’s not that I don’t want to get older, exactly: There’s only one way to do that. However, I wouldn’t mind the process taking a bit longer.

Our perceptions of when, precisely, old age begins have changed as human lifespan has increased—but not as quickly, probably. During the period I was born, a person could be expected to live until their late 60s, maybe early 70s. However, projected life expectancy isn’t absolute, and improvements in healthcare and medicine have increased the lifespan beyond what was projected at people’s birth—in developed countries, especially, but worldwide, too.

As people began living longer and healthier lives, our perception of when “old age” begins have shifted, too, though slowly. I think that shift needs to pick up the pace.

One of the life events when one reaches their 60s is retirement. For years, the retirement age in the USA was 65 —until they started raising it. The USA started to raise the age for receiving full Social Security benefits by 2 months per year beginning with those born in 1938—but it stalled at 66 for those born between 1943 and 1954. Then, the rise resumed.

I qualify for Social Security, assuming it still exists, when I reach 66 years 10 months, and this presents a problem. Due to a treaty between the USA and New Zealand, my Social Security benefit will be paid to the New Zealand Government (the two counties have similar agreements with other countries). The problem is that I qualify for NZ Superannuation at age 65, and NZ requires me to apply for Social Security when I apply for New Zealand Superannuation. However, if I apply for US Social Security at 65, it’ll be reduced benefits. Even so, at the moment I don’t plan on retiring that early, anyway, but the point is the two systems don’t match up.

Actually, the bigger problem, if it is one, is that I can’t imagine being retired. Nothing in my life has prepared me for it, since my parents never achieved it. But I also don’t feel old enough to be nearing retirement age—though I also have no idea what it would mean to feel old enough.

Which is why I’m dreading this upcoming “zero age” more than any of the others I’ve been though: I have neither the frame of reference nor any feeling for what this upcoming age will be like. Sure, on my birthday itself it’ll be no different than the day before, but as the years pass, what happens? At all those earlier “zero age” birthdays I had some idea what to expect, and I knew that the following decade wouldn’t be all that much different than the one before it. Neither is true this time.

This isn’t the sort of thing I can be told about or learn about. It’s one of those rare things that must be intuited, and I’m not there yet. Still, time waits for no one, right? And one week from today, ready or not, I enter what’s for me totally uncharted territory.

Still, it beats the alternative.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

A good idea is suspended

A programme in New Zealand to collect soft plastics for recycling has been suspended. There was evidence we were headed that way for quite awhile, but its end, even if temporary, was sudden. Whether it resumes or not, the real issue is reducing the amount of soft plastics there are.

The programme began as a pilot in 2015, and was partly funded by the government of the day, led by the National Party, though it was a project of the Packaging Forum, which represents the packaging industry. The idea was to make it easy for people to drop off soft plastic packaging (basically anything plastic that a person could crumple in their hands), and it became very popular.

At the time the programme was begun, there was no governmental move to ban single-use plastic bags, so it was partly a way of dealing with all those used bags. The plastics were sent to Australia, but the long-term plan was to process them here in New Zealand.

In 2016, the project collected 106 tonnes of soft plastic for recycling, which grew to 366 tonnes in 2017. They planned to be collecting 447 tonnes by the end of this year.

However, the Australians stopped accepting our soft plastics, and it began piling up. By November of last year, 400 tonnes was in storage, some of it getting mouldy, making it unusable. A month later, six supermarkets stopped collecting the bags. That was probably the starting point of the end, because a few days later the packaging forum “suspended” the programme on December 31.

The forum “plans to resume a sustainable service in April 2019”, but that depends on finding some way to process the plastics collected, and to do so here in New Zealand. I’m extremely dubious that will happen.

I didn’t know any of this was going on. I didn’t go grocery shopping the end of December (I ordered online), so if there was any in-store announcement, I never saw it.

Earlier this week I went grocery shopping and brought my soft plastic packaging with me. I got to the Countdown grocery store, and the collection barrel was gone. I just thought that maybe they hadn’t been able to deal with it over the holidays. The next day, I went to The Warehouse, which also collected the bags, and looked for their barrel. It wasn’t there, either. When I was in the checkout I saw a sign on the wall saying that the programme was suspended.

I had one small bag of soft plastics, so it wasn’t a lot, but it raised a question: What was I going to do with it? And, should I save and store the plastics for four months in case the programme really does resume in April? No, I shouldn’t. There can be no guarantee the programme will return then or ever, and then I’d have to send it all to landfill. So, I’ll send it to landfill again, and, in fact, we’ve already started throwing it into the regular rubbish. I hated doing that, but there’s no practical alternative.

At the end of November 2017, I said of the programme that “I’d guesstimate I’ve probably diverted the equivalent of five 60-litre rubbish bags (probably more) from landfill.” At the time, I had no way of knowing that it would start piling up in storage and not be recycled.

All of New Zealand’s supermarkets have stopped giving away plastic shopping bags. The government has announced that they’ll be banned everywhere in New Zealand this year. So, the amount of soft plastic packaging we have to deal with will be cut dramatically. But there’s so much more that could be done.

The programme was always a way to deal with a problem after the fact. The better solution would have been to eliminate the problem by eliminating the plastic packaging. While banning the shopping bags will be huge, there’s still a lot of plastic shrink wrapping used, and potato chips and other snacks and food products, like frozen vegetables, come in plastic bags. These are not easy to avoid without also avoiding the products.

I have mesh bags to use when I shop for fresh produce so that I don’t need any plastic bags, which is part of the solution. The packaging industry should work to eliminate all the unnecessary plastics, like shrink-wrap, for example, which is almost never necessary. Despite all that, some plastic packaging will remain, and it would be good to find a sustainable way to recycle it. Maybe it’ll happen.

In the meantime, our own moves toward more sustainability have taken a step backwards. We’ll try to avoid the soft plastics we can, but some will be unavoidable, and that will unavoidably mean it’s headed to landfill again.

Maybe some times good ideas just need more time to work out.