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December 1, 1998


A Season of Hope for Recycling

For those of us who are disappointed and saddened by the recent announcement by Earth Resources that it would no longer accept plastics for recycling, the holiday season brings a ray of hope.

Earth Resources, a private, curb-side recycling business, was started several years ago to fill a void in the City of Mobile. A recent flier left with the customers stated that Earth Resources would discontinue pick-up of plastics because it could not find a buyer for recycled plastics. The announcement mentioned that the City of Mobile is about to implement a comprehensive recycling plan.

According to Bob Haskins of Keep Mobile Beautiful, the city has been negotiating with a number of companies to set up drop-off centers around town for thirteen recyclables, including plastics such as water and milk bottles and styrofoam peanuts used in packaging, and glass, which Earth Resources had dropped from its pick- up list a couple of years earlier for the same reasons it dropped plastics recently. Mr. Haskins said last week in a telephone interview that he hopes to formally announce the new recycling program in addition to the current curb- side recycling program for paper soon.

Because it costs the average household about $30 a month to bury recyclables in a landfill and $40-45 to recycle them, Mr. Haskins says it is cheaper for the city to "bury than to recycle," and a viable recycling effort requires the city's willingness to make an investment for the environment.

The economics of recycling works against private enterprise, so for recycling to be sustainable, the decision by the Mobile community through its organized representatives has to be based on more than economics alone. While we can practice the first two of the three R's in "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" on a personal level, the last R requires an organized effort by the entire community.

Perhaps the upcoming holiday season, with its strong religious underpinnings, can spark and nurture a "mindfulness" among Mobilians that has been absent so far in past city-wide recycling efforts, so they can rise above the prevailing attitude that we can get services for free or that all governmental actions are bad. A sound environmental program for recyclable household wastes that benefits the public requires a citizenry willing to make an investment .

Meanwhile, Bob Haskins of Keep Mobile Beautiful offers these tips: continue to practice the three R's on the personal level; buy products made from recycled materials; and tell your city council representative that you believe in investing in a sustainable recycling program in Mobile.

-- Edmund Tsang

Life Forms by Dan Silver

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Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I am a sociology major at the University of North Texas in Denton. I have been employed in human services related to abnormal psychology and developmental disabilities. I worked with a disabled Vietnam veteran who had been shot in the back and was quadriplegic. He required assistance with all of his basic needs, and I provided him with home health care. He suffered from painful spasms which were the result of atrophied muscles and retracted tendons. I witnessed his body convulse as he cried in agony. He tried painkillers, muscle relaxers, electrical stimulation, and accupressure. These options proved futile and costly. His physician suggested smoking marijuana as an analgesic. The results were impressive, as he completed his physical therapy without any spasms.

I support medical research of marijuana, and the decriminalization of use by citizens diagnosed with terminal, chronic, and disabling diseases such as cancer or AIDS. It does not serve justice to deny suffering patients quality health care.

Christopher Largen
Denton, TX

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