SCAM? crappy & more costly bio utensils not compostable?
Posted: 06 March 2010 12:43 AM   [ Ignore ]
Jr. Member
Total Posts:  3
Joined  2010-02-24

Below is the last email in this exchane.  The discussion should continue here.

Depends on how many you are feeding.  When I took my kid camping, we would regularly
attract 10-20 kids/parents at Lake Sonoma (because I had the ski boat).  We brought
Corelle dishes and everyone washed his plate with a tiny bit of detergent and a
rinse in lake water.  I did that for many years and have never broken a single
dish.  We stood them up to dry in the space between the planks of the picnic
tables.  Those damned Corelle plates are made with magic.  Other parents would bring
paper plates or plastic and we just looked at them with exasperation.  You can only
do your share, very little more.
From: Allen
Sent: Friday, March 05, 2010 6:09 PM
To: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Subject: RE: [skeptics-147] SCAM? crappy & more costly bio utensils not compostable?

Help me out…I’m not an expert in this. If one has to use disposable cups, plates,
and utensils (which I have to this Sunday), which are currently thought to be the
least environmentally hostile? What’s the current science/full lifecycle analysis?

——-Original Message——-
From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) [] On Behalf Of Don
Sent: Friday, March 05, 2010 6:00 PM
To: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Subject: Re: [skeptics-147] SCAM? crappy & more costly bio utensils not compostable?

    When I was at HP in the late 80’s they created a task force to figure out that
the most environmentally friendly type of disposable cups would be and to everyone’s
horror, they choose Styrofoam.  They researched it and that is what they found based
on evidence. I believed them.

I understand what you are saying and I agree that horizontal corporations such as
Starbucks are merely “going with the flow,” so to speak, but I think you grant the
paper industry too much innocence.   Just look at where the anti styrofoam movement
started.  It all began in Eastern Oregon.  It is no accident that the paper mill
industry is centered there.  They constructed the “bad press” about styrofoam’s
non-biodegradeability, recognizing that the consuming public would have little if
any sympathy for oil companies.  They didn’t bother to mention that so called “paper
cups” are no more bio-degradable and a Hell of a lot less friendly to the
environment.  The real problem is that the consuming public is guilty of sloppy
thinking if and when they think at all. . . . . . . . TL
From: Jerry Schwarz
Sent: Friday, March 05, 2010 4:53 PM
To: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Subject: Re: [skeptics-147] SCAM? crappy & more costly bio utensils not compostable?

I pretty much agree with Tom except for one point.  The commercial interests didn’t
“hijack” the “environmental movement”.  They gave in to popular pressure created by
the “environmental movement”.  The problem was the typical one that people don’t
apply independent reasoning to this kind of thing, but follow propaganda promulgated
by people they trust. 

In a related vein, I recently read an interesting book “Whole Earth Discipline” by
Stewart Brand (who has impeccable environmentalist credentials) who bemoans the
generally anti-science attitude of many environmentalist organizations.  He doesn’t
discuss this particular issue, but I think it is a typical example.  

On Mar 5, 2010, at 2:05 PM, Tom Lippman wrote:

> Thanks for drawing attention to this popular misconception.  It is so very much
like the rhetoric behind the paper cups displacing market share of styrofoam which
actually uses less petroleum to manufacture than the paper cups do.  It is just
another illustration of how commercial interests seek to “hijack” the environmental
movement in order to accrue greater profits for themselves.  The paper mills were
remarkably successful despite their reputation as the greatest polluters of our
rivers and streams.  Apparently, oil companies just arouse even less sympathy than
the paper mills do.

> This “biodegradable” label  has achieved a politically correct, sanguine
image/status that almost defies reason.  The sand on the beach is not one tiny bit
more biodegradable than styrofoam but no one seems concerned about it.  At the
pressure and temperatures that sand and styrofoam spend their lives, both are
equally chemically inert.  Most plastics are photodegradable and will
disintegrate/decompose over time exposed to sunlight, generally about 100 yrs. while
so called “biodegradable” things like paper cups are showing no signs of
disintegration when dug up from our landfills after at least 60 yrs in the ground.

> I agree that using reusable cups, plates and utensils, which require a little bit
of labor to maintain is the most sensible answer.  Believe it or not, the primary
reason for the popularity of disposable plates, cups and utensils, is their far
greater likelihood of remaining relatively free from microbial contamination.  Food
served on a washed plate is far more likely to be contaminated because the plate
might not have been dried or handled properly.

> Tom Lippman


Jerry Schwarz

Posted: 23 March 2010 02:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Sr. Member
Total Posts:  834
Joined  2009-07-17


So… How do you educate people to the science? The deep emotions of so many people who want to be doing ‘the right thing’ and save the planet, reduce their carbon foot print, etc. is a tough nut* to crack. They often get their information from the environmental believers, not reputable scientific studies. And even when they do read the scientific studies if the conclusions don’t support what they want to believe is true, the parade of logical fallacies begins.

I certainly want clean air, water, and overall environment, but I would like for my actions (however small) to actually mean something.

* Organic of course… wink

Take care,



“It is noble to be good; it is still nobler to teach others to be good—and less trouble.”—Mark Twain

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