Marvin Bloom, who has appeared in several of my plays and keeps popping up all over my work, is a man with strong opinions. I swear he is the love child of Joan Rivers and Bernie Sanders. No surprise he has strong feelings about the practice of recycling. He recently weighed in the recycling craze and came to some unexpected conclusions. Recycling? A moral, earth-changing practice or a total waste of time? Listen to what he has to say. (full transcript below)
MAIN section: Marvin does recycling
Hi everyone, this is Marvin, Marvin Bloom from the Long Island chapter of the Citizens Climate Brigade. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE recycling. Amazing, almost a spiritual practice for me. I have all my different bins to separate the plastic bottles from the cans and the glass. I even like the sound of the word bins. Right? I also separate newspaper from glossy magazines and tie them together with twine. It’s like wrapping a Christmas present for Mother Earth. It feels so good.. And I don’t know about you but I’m a rinser. I mean who wants to send the recycling people gooky sticky smelly bottles and cans. No I rinse everything, which I know is a waste of water, let it air dry, and put everything in its proper place. Then twice a month I put it all out of the curb and poof, magic. I come home and it’s gone sent to a center somewhere in recycling land to get transformed into who knows what. Yeah, I love recycling.
STill i have to be honest with you. Ready for this. Turns out recycling is a total waste of time. I know it sounds terrible. It’s the sacred cow of the environmentalist movement. IT is that outward sign that we send ourselves and others that we are serious about making the world a better place. But are we? Really?
My partner, Tristan, has this annoying habit of looking at the facts. Not too long ago he burst my pretty little recycling bubble. He said, Baby, which I know is his way of softening me up for some bad news. Baby, I know you think you are making a huge dent in reducing fossil fuel pollution, but recycling as a form of climate action? That’s like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. And he’s right. Jerk. Not that recycling is a bad thing. It is the moral thing to do along with everything else we can and should do to reduce our personal contributions to pollution. But we’re kidding ourselves.
No seriously, listen to this;
I’m full of gas. My life is completely infused with greenhouse gases. No matter how I try to untether myself from the system—oh and I try—I’m an untetherer. I use public transit, although it is smelly and annoying. I buy carbon offsets when I fly to Miami to visit my parents, who by the way are retired and can come up and visit me for a change. I practically kill myself changing all the lightbulbs in our apartment the high ceilings. I hang dry clothes all over our living room as per Tristian’s suggestion, which doesn’t even work. I end up smelling like a mold factory. And whenever I’m with Tristian we always walk and bike which to me sounds dangerous. I mean people fall down. I do all that and more. I am like the queer poster child of conservation and I’m not even an environmentalist.—still I am responsible for over 13 tons of gas. Why? because I live in the USA. And I’m one of the good Americans.
According to the World Bank, the average American is responsible for 17.6 tons of carbon pollution each year. And what is the average for people outside of the USA? 5 tons of carbon pollution per year. Why is this?
Well, I leave my apartment and walk on public roads and sidewalks soaked in fossil fuels. The streets in my Long Island town are lit, cleaned, and maintained thanks to the power of greenhouse gases. I walk into my local grocery store, which for some reason stockpiles tofu but can’t seem to get in any Bubblebee smoked trout. I walk into that store, one that relies on fossil fuels for light, heat, air conditioning, and for refrigerating the products shipped in by planes and trucks. I can literally go an entire day never driving and never turning on the stove. I could shut off the hot water heater, unplug all my appliances, and never turn on a light. I could avoid the Internet and the data stored in the cloud, which is somewhere in silicon valley heaven in Steve Job’s butt . I could live like Peterson’s Amish Mennonite neighbors, a life of simplicity off the grid, hand pumping water from a well, eating only the vegetables I grow, looking like a Little Jewish princess on the prairie, and still I live and benefit from a country that runs on greenhouse gases.
Listen people, We fantasize that if everyone just did their part, we could make a serious dent in curbing fossil fuel pollution. Well, we have tried that tactic since the 1970s; it’s not working any better than racial justice in this country. Guilting people into action, shaming them or appealing to their better selves is wasting time and simply does not work.
And why should I the individual consumer make all the hard choices? Sure I am responsible for my actions, but I have virtually no control over the fossil fuel lifestyle that runs my town and this country. OMG I am starting to sound like Bernie Sanders. He says good things but I can’t listen to him. His voice is so annoying.
So are we helpless victims here? Should we give up? Absolutely not. We have work to do.
You see while recycling makes me feel like a million bucks, it doesn’t do anything to address climate change. Because climate change is not an environmental issue—it is a policy issue. The government has to change the policy of how we get our energy from the top down, not from my little lowly apartment in Long Island New York.
And what is the best policy to make this happen? Raise the price. Make these energy companies pay for the privilege to pollute. Keep it in the ground or pay a fee to dig it up. So that is why I am doubling my efforts to talk to lawmakers, to write letters to the editor. Oh and I need to design a teeshirt that says Beep Recycling—give me a carbon tax. Or something like that. No the action we need is collective action, a movement where we demand our government do something to help us get all this gas out of our systems.
Of course Tristan my partner, says we should boycott our local supermarkets until they stop selling meat altogether , but he has his own healthy vegan tofu loving lifestyle agenda he is trying to shove down my throat, but that’s another story.