A recent entry at the pb.c reminded me to catalog my latest environmental offense, other than being human.
Pete reminds us, rightly, to be conscious of waste materials such as plastic bags. That I am. I have reused and recycled since 1990. I stopped eating meat in order to stop the slashing and burning of South American rainforests for cattle grazing. I eschew paper towels and plastic utensils whenever I can.
Remember when you were in college and you were idealistic about something, and then you got older and lazier and you saw the pessimism-inducing outcomes in the world (Bush) and you became this half-assed version of your younger, peppier, changin'-the-world self?
At one point in college a guy I used to date said, "Every time I recycle something, I think of you." That didn't really make me feel good, you know? It made me feel like one of those annoying strident people. These days I use disposable products a lot more than I used to and I don't belong to any environmental groups at the moment because I somehow make more room on the credit card for $40 margarita nights than for $40 memberships to the NRDC. At the same time, I feel I am less annoying.
Perhaps it takes annoying people to institute change. Or perhaps we need an MLK Jr. of the environment, someone who has the charisma to be the face of a movement. When was the last time we had a political activist who was sexy? When was the last time someone took a stand who wasn't just that boring, annoying dude in the dorm who talks too much about sustainability?
But I am digressin' from the confessin'.
The other day I decided it was time to remove the ailing battery from my Dustbuster and replace it. I opened up the back of the Dustbuster. A plastic case of four batteries lay nestled inside with a sticker that told me to pull up on the tab and lift the battery from the appliance.
Well, I pulled up on the tab. I also scissored the tab, pried with a knife, yanked and pummeled the battery until, with much effort, I managed to extract it. I left the room and went, dutifully, to Google the words "recycle nickel-cadmium battery."
Whilst I was a-Googling, I heard some very loud pops and eventually smelled something nasty. I thought it was out in the hall, that workers were doing something. I am so dumb that I even opened my front door and only realized something was amiss when the hall smelled like roses and my apartment still smelled like a chemical fire.
On the kitchen counter, the Dustbuster battery was smoldering and oozing. From inside the fractured casing, the misshapen mass guffawed at me, "HA HA! NOW YOU HAVE CANCER!"
Freaking out, I quickly grabbed the battery with a rubber glove, threw it in my trash and escorted it to the Dumpster, all the while flashing back to Web pages on which I had seen the phrases "NEVER dispose of a nickel-cadmium battery in regular trash" and "Where to Recycle Batteries." I thought of Karen Silkwood, cancer clusters, and unexplained Dumpster fires. Then I opened all my windows and went about my day.
So, here it is: I am the person who threw the exploded nickel-cadmium Dustbuster battery in the regular trash on Florida Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. I am really, really sorry. And I promise to write a check to the NRDC.