Tag Archives: environment

Trashy, novel beach

Before we get totally freaked out by climate change and the United States bowing out of the Paris Agreement, let the glass beach near Fort Bragg remind us of unexpected consequences and Mother Nature’s novel solutions to humankind’s poor treatment.

Surely, some unexpected consequences of man intervention’s in nature are negative, I’m not arguing that, but this one is a positive.

Fort Bragg, Calif., sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, and for decades up until 1967, the city’s trash–everything from cars to batteries to bottles, cans and appliances–was unceremoniously dumped over the cliffs into the ocean. This was common practice in many seaside cities for centuries.

Over the next several decades, the biodegradables, well, degraded, and the metal and other items were eventually removed and sold as scrap or used in art. Mother Nature’s pounding waves broke down the glass and pottery and tumbled those pieces into the small, smooth, colored pieces–a rainbow of sea glass.

glass beach far

The beach looks like most other beaches from far away. A beautiful and wild place with waves crashing unendingly on the shore.

glass beach closeup

But close up, the sand is glass–glass smooth enough to walk upon.

If you find the beach interesting, you must check out the International Sea Glass Museum on the south edge of Fort Bragg.

We can rebuild him. We have the technology.

When my father first acquired his television store in 1976, the best sets on the showroom floor were consoles. Enormous pieces of furniture with wood cabinets and big flat tops perfect for bouquets of fake flowers. Usually playing The Six Million Dollar Man.

I kid. About the Six Million Dollar Man part. A sporting event was probably playing. But not on ESPN. That channel started in 1979.

In any case, my point is, console TVs were once the bees’ knees.

Not so anymore, of course. A TV deeper than 4 inches is considered so yesterday.

I was reminded of my dad’s old TV store and all the wonderful electronics it once contained today when my Beloved and I got up bright and early to recycle a bunch of old computer hardware at the county recycling event, a  special production designed to help suburban hoarders lighten the load by giving them clearance to get rid of once useful stuff like latex paint, 1995 tax documents and bikes with flat tires.

And console TVs.

Fifteen minutes after the event began at 8 a.m., it was a madhouse! The parking lot was packed with six million recyclers, heavy lifters and SUVs filled with junk.

We got in line and in literally three minutes, we were relieved of our old drives, monitors and printers (not the car batteries, though, alas — those weren’t accepted).

IMG_5143 (544x640)I tried to get a picture, but the crew was moving so fast (it was like they were bionic!), Tyler was unloaded and ready to escape the mayhem before I captured a good shot. So here’s a bad one.

Besides the amazingly quick and efficient service, I was overwhelmed with the amount of stuff people were unloading (us included). All those corrupt computers, busted television sets and ginormous laser printers are going into the garbage somewhere.

“Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence—those are the three pillars of Western prosperity.”

― Aldous Huxley

New packaging sticks in my craw

My favorite flavored drink has a new package (top). The former packaging is on the bottom.

In the words of Paul Simon, I ask Maxwell House, “Now who do … who do you think you’re fooling?”

The marketers at the “good to the last drop” company are wringing every last bit of spin out of the latest packaging change to the International Café line.

I love the Café Francais flavor more than I ought to, and I’ve been buying it for years. A hot cup of that concoction mixed into milk is my decadent little mid-afternoon or evening treat.

International Cafe beverages — formerly General Foods International Coffee until chai tea and vanilla creme were added to the line — have always been packaged in distinct steel tins.

Until recently.

The last, um, container I purchased came with a “New Look, Same Great Taste!” message. The steel had been replaced with, oh, for the love of all that is good and holy …


Over at the Maxwell House website, consumers are handed this manufactured A under the FAQs tab:

Maxwell House International changed from a steel container to a new and innovative Lock-In-Fresh package that gives you increased convenience while helping reduce the impact on the environment. This new package helps seal in freshness, makes our product easier to scoop out, and is more environmentally friendly as it uses 50% less packaging material than the previous package.

Then those clever marketers addressed the design change:

Maxwell House International changed from our traditional white and red look to our new bold, blue look in order to match the look of the Maxwell House family of coffees and remind consumers of the rich coffee heritage behind the product.

Tell the truth, you robber barons!

No one buys International Cafe beverages for the coffee! Despite the pretty coffee beans in the corner and the bigger, more prominent logo, consumers buy these addictive drinks for the sugar and the nondairy creamer and a whole bunch of other unpronounceable ingredients! If we wanted coffee, we’d buy, well, Maxwell House!

But here’s the real rip-off: That plastic “Lock-In-Fresh” packaging with 50% less material is cheaper to produce! But the price has not changed a whit!

Maxwell House dumped the steel packaging and tells consumers it’s greener while pocketing the profits!

I’m no dummy. I’ve been a marketer with that 8-ball pointed at me. I know the language, the skullduggery, the double-talk when I see it. I’ve used it!

Woe be to me. Now I must have my coffee and eat my words, too.

I’ll just have water, hold the arsenic

If you’ve ever wondered if reverse osmosis actually removes anything from your municipal water, check this out:

Those filters were white when they were new. My Beloved took Labor Day weekend seriously and changed the filters today, and eww, they were so gross.

Back when the cavemen where drinking directly out of a stream, I guess they only had to contend with moose dung and a fellow tribesman using the river to clean the knife he filleted an elk with (I don’t know, maybe they were dealing with the tribe mate’s dung, too). But even today’s water treatment plants don’t leave your drinking water pristine (especially here in Illinois). Do you have any idea how many pharmaceuticals you are ingesting because your fellow tribe mate flushes his leftover drugs down the toilet?

According to one website, reverse osmosis removes “dissolved minerals and metals such as aluminum, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chloride, chromium, copper, fluoride, magnesium, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, nitrate, selenium, silver, sulfate, and zinc. RO is also effective with asbestos, many taste, color and odor-producing chemicals, particulates, total dissolved solids, turbidity, and radium.”

I don’t know what “turbidity” is, but I’m glad I’m not drinking it.