The return to recycling

first_imgIf you think today’s emphasis on recycling represents a revolution in human behavior, think again.Before the Industrial Revolution and the advent of cheap consumer goods, throwing things away was a last resort as homeowners repaired, repurposed, and recycled home goods until there was little left to use.Then they gave the leftovers to the ragman.Susan Strasser, the Richards Professor of American History at the University of Delaware, said Thursday that recycling’s history gives it a place near and dear to the American heart, a place usurped by the Industrial Revolution’s production of cheap consumer goods but partially restored in recent times.“In all cultures, people reuse stuff. That’s what the Industrial Revolution interrupted,” Strasser said.Strasser, author of the book “Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash,” spoke at Harvard’s Geological Lecture Hall as part of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology’s fall lecture series, “Trash Talk.”In her lecture, titled “Rags, Bones, and Plastic Bags: Trash in Industrial America,” Strasser tracked the evolution of refuse from the 19th century to the present. Before the Industrial Revolution, Strasser said, trash was virtually unknown. Without widespread mechanization and absent a ready supply of consumer goods, people developed the skills to make and maintain the things they owned.Women sewed and knitted, turning the family father’s torn pants into the son’s smaller pants, she said. Bits of old clothing were used in quilts, and then the worn-out quilts themselves were put to other uses, such as padding a homemade chair. Men built and repaired furniture and regularly reused items around the home for other purposes.“The 19th century world regarded reusing materials as a matter of common sense, of stewardship of material goods,” Strasser said.The production cycle of goods was also different from today, functioning as more of a closed loop, within which merchants and peddlers didn’t just sell goods, they reclaimed what the family couldn’t reuse — scraps of metal, cloth rags, bits of glass — and turned them into new goods.“Production and disposal were part of the same process,” Strasser said. “Through the early part of the Industrial Revolution, there were no landfills, no incinerators. There just simply wasn’t that much trash.”The result, Strasser said, was that homes were operated in a cultural framework that valued individual handiwork and the maintenance of a family’s possessions for years and even generations.“People used to be stewards of things, and their reuse was a fundamental skill of life,” Strasser said.By the end of the 19th century and early in the 20th, that had begun to change. New manufacturing methods allowed the mass production of goods, lowering their cost even as railroads ensured they were available throughout the nation. The lowered cost also lessened incentives to care for things as diligently as in the past. In addition, a whole new category of consumer goods arose: disposables, made with the express purpose of eventually being thrown away.With industrialization came the idea of “affordable luxuries,” an increased emphasis on fashion, style, and acquiring the latest technological innovations. What also arose was an association of poverty with mending things and reusing them.As consumer society took hold, cities began to institutionalize the easy creation of trash through garbage pickup. For the first time, families could drop things they no longer wanted into a trash can, cart it to the curb, and never see the trash again.“Industrialization created waste on a previously unimagined scale. It added up to a seismic shift in the individual’s relationship with the material world,” Strasser said. “People who once made things now bought things.”Living in industrial society withered away the handiwork skills once essential in families. Today, Strasser said, most people couldn’t create the goods needed for basic living even if they had to, though some of those skills, such as knitting, continue as hobbies.“The situation is serious,” Strasser said. “We’re literally consumers. Few of us know how to make clothes anymore. Few of us know how to build houses anymore. Few of us even know how to make music anymore rather than buying it.”But the transition hasn’t been all bad, Strasser said. Many goods available today couldn’t be produced in the home even if one wanted — such as computers, televisions, and other advanced electronics. Strasser also said that the old days had their own problems. The handiwork skills that were lost, while valuable in everyday living, also took lots of time to exercise. Women in particular gained a lot of freedom to choose how to spend time not dedicated to sewing, knitting, canning, cooking, and other tasks. In addition, our societies are much cleaner and healthier, thanks to modern sanitation and trash removal.“Streets smelled really bad. People smelled really bad,” Strasser said. “I don’t want to say the world we lost is ideal, but neither is the new world ideal.”last_img read more

"The return to recycling"

Massachusetts may become third state to begin planning for transition away from gas heating

first_imgMassachusetts may become third state to begin planning for transition away from gas heating FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Utility Dive:Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey on Thursday called for the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to investigate the future of the state’s natural gas industry “to protect ratepayers and ensure a safe, reliable, and fair transition away from reliance on natural gas and other fossil fuels.”Massachusetts has set a legally binding statewide limit of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, which Healey said would require “sizeable reductions in its use of fossil fuels to achieve.”Healey’s call for an investigation of the gas sector follows similar actions in New York and California, which are also looking to transition away from fossil fuels. Advocates say the moves are overdue but indicate an important shift.In January, the California Public Utilities Commission opened a rulemaking proceeding to consider challenges relating to the state’s gas infrastructure safety and reliability while it pursues decarbonization. And in March, the New York Public Service Commission opened an investigation to consider issues related to gas utilities’ planning procedures.Clean energy advocates say the investigation will consider how Massachusetts can transition from gas-fueled heat and power in a way that does not leave lower-income residents responsible for stranded costs. “Getting off of gas without planning is going to be messy and inequitable,” Sierra Club’s Massachusetts director Deb Pasternak told Utility Dive.The next step, said Pasternak, is for the DPU to determine if it will open a new docket for the investigation.[Robert Walton]More: Massachusetts attorney general urges state examine shift from natural gas heatinglast_img read more

"Massachusetts may become third state to begin planning for transition away from gas heating"

Nat’l Museum may cancel Igbaras ‘treasure hunt’ permit

first_imgILOILO – The National Museum of the Philippines confirmed havingissued a “Treasure Hunting and Disposition of Recovered Treasures Permit” covering a private lot inBarangay Pasong, Igbaras, Iloilo. * PH shall submit quarterly report on the progress of treasurehunting activities as per Technical Work and Environmental Work Programs * archaeological sites * PH is liable for damages incurred during the operations Before his Philippine assignment,Yamashita and his men were said to have plundered other Southeast Asiancountries that Japan attacked and/or invaded during the war and buried the lootin the Philippines./PN The terms and conditions were the following: “We have rules. The permit may be cancelled if the excavation hasadverse environmental impacts and endangers neighboring areas. It is within thepowers of the museum to suspend or revoke the permit when public interest sorequires or upon the failure of the permit holder to comply with the terms andconditions,” said Tirol. * protected areas – the permit applicant must first secure aclearance from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Yamashita was assigned to defend the Japan-colonizedPhilippines from the advancing Allied forces in the waning years of World War2. He failed to stop the Allied advance, and Japan ultimately surrendered inAugust 1945. * PH (permit holder) shall not destroy any building or structure According to the mayor, around 10diggers have so far covered 1,000 square meters. * PH shall notify the agency within 24 hours of their discovery * cave sites within 500 meters from the mouth of the cave,archaeological and/or declared historical zones, and anthropologicalreservations From what he had gathered, saidEsmeralda, a certain Noly Laquihon Bayogos claimed to have secured a “TreasureHunting and Disposition of Recovered Treasures Permit” from the NationalMuseum. Tirol also pointed out guidelines covering public lots, protectedareas and private lots as treasure hunting sites: The ongoing excavation in Barangay Pasong alarmed residents. Theyfeared possible adverse effects such as landslide, soil erosion and the earthcaving in. According to Tirol, treasure hunting is not allowed in thefollowing: * shipwreck sites * Permit is valid for one year As far as the municipal government ofIgbaras and barangay council of Pasong were concerned, said Esmeralda, theyhave not issued any permit for treasure hunting, ground excavation or mining inthe village. For his part, Barangay CaptainCornelio Elumba of Pasong dismissed speculations there could be Yamashitatreasures buried in his village. “I learned that the excavation has been going on for about one andhalf years already beginning in 2018 before I was elected mayor. Residents fearthis could result to soil erosion. Nine nearby households are very concerned,”said Igbaras’ Mayor Jaime Esmeralda. “I already asked the chief of the National Museum’s CulturalProperties Regulation Division to evaluate if kinahanglan i-cancel angpermit. I-cancel ina kun damo violations,” said Tirol. It may cancel the permit if the conditions for its issuance werenot met, said Atty. Ma.  Cecilia Tirol,acting deputy director-general for administration of the National Museum. * Withdrawal by the Permit Holder from the Permit Area shall notrelease him from all financial, environmental, legal and other obligations Tirol stressed the importance of local government unitscoordinating with the National Museum if they have concerns over treasurehunting activities which the agency had issued permits. * public lots – the permit applicant must first secure a clearancefrom the local government * Must abide with laws, rules and regulations on treasure hunting * Permit Area subject to inspection * private lot – clearance from local government unit not neededbut applicant must seek the consent of private lot owner “Kontuod nga may ara, kontani damo nga mal-am ang mahambal sina,” he said. * THP (treasure hunting permit) is exclusive to the Permit Holder(non-transferrable) Led by Igbaras’ Mayor Jaime Esmeralda, barangay officials ofPasong sought the help of Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. on Jan 16. Some residentssaid the diggers were looking for the buried gold treasures of World War 2Japanese general Tomoyuki Yamashita.last_img read more

"Nat’l Museum may cancel Igbaras ‘treasure hunt’ permit"