Monday, April 20, 2009

Toronto Star Rescues Package-Challenged Torontonians with Beat the Wrap

Regular readers know how exasperated, to put it nicely, I am with Toronto's stupid, discriminatory, onerous, and piss-poor garbage handling. As a long-time Torontonian I know how clean this city used to be and how clean it should be and that Mayor David Miller's idea of clean sweep is nowhere near where we used to be. As one who has been recycling and turning off lights for decades, I also have no patience for what passes as green today and how Toronto's stupid garbage policy has been rammed down our throat under the rubric of green when it's no such thing, not when it attracts rats, not when its mecca time for raccoons, not when it makes the most vulnerable of city dwellers lives miserable and independent living almost unsustainable, not when it fills our streets and parks with waste, not when it enrages our neighbours with km-long lines of garbage trucks polluting the air all the way to Michigan for landfill and New York for incineration, not when it includes buying up and expanding a landfill site, not when it allows the province to impose and build an electricity generating plant based on a non-renewable resource instead of garbage (something we have in abundance) because Torontonians are too ignorant to keep up with incinerator technology and too hypocritical to care we use it, albeit in other jurisdictions, not when our leaders are more interested in ideology than using Canadian green technology, and not when they refuse to do the single most important thing that would actually help: force manufacturers to reduce all that endless, annoying, tiring packaging.

So today The Toronto Star has stepped up. Just as it forced the city to create the DineSafe program, dropping our food poisoning cases by 30%, it's going to force Miller and his cohorts to finally do right by Torontonians. At least, that's my hope. But only in one way.

The timing is rather ironic for me, for only a day ago I was cursing and ripping and futilely snipping my way through miles of plastic just to get a new antenna out of its packaging. Why does every single piece of an antenna, including the friggin' electrical cord need to be tied up, wrapped up, taped up in its own plastic? I remember the days when getting something new out of its box was pretty easy. Open and remove. Those were the same days when the city was clean. No more. I've thrown out batteries with a flashlight package as I simply wasn't strong enough and didn't have the right tools to pry it out of its tight hole. I've opened up the packages of "green" and "organic" foodstuffs only to see more packaging to spend my precious energy on opening just so I could eat. I think I threw that one out in exasperation too and went for something easy like milk. Well, actually that's not so easy either. The glass bottles have caps that are impossible to get off, inevitably ending at the other end of the room as the knife lever finally works; while some dairies have cartons that resist all attempts to open.

It's OK for some greenies to say thou should stand at the cash register and get them to open the package before leaving the store. But it takes a lot of energy and cajones to insist on that when there's a line-up of impatient Canucks behind you and a bewildered or even worse glaring cashier in front of you.

The Toronto Star calls its new movement "Beat the Wrap." Catchy. I hope they succeed. And even if I can't have my old clean, good-garbage-service and non-hypocritical city back until Miller gets booted out, at least I won't dread buying something new anymore, wondering how I'll ever open up that package.

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