Wednesday, October 01, 2014
The elephant outside your school.
Orlando Sentinel Photo
California’s legislature has proven again that, when it comes to the environment, it’s nothing short of progressive, but within limits. It caught the attention of the nation’s media by passing a law that will forbid supermarkets — and eventually smaller stores and pharmacies — from stuffing groceries and other items into single-use plastic bags.
The purported issue is the harm that petroleum-based bags do to the environment. The bags stubbornly refuse — for decades or even centuries — to deteriorate in landfills. That means Poochie’s poop may stay so fresh that future archeologists will know more about what dogs ate than we did back in the 21st Century.
Don’t look now, but it also forces supermarkets and their cousins to provide a paper alternative — for a fee, though, of course. If you hear them complain in public, listen for their laughter on the way to the bank.
If petroleum leeching into the environment is the issue, however, why not take simple and easy steps to reduce the amount of poisonous garbage that cars and SUVs spew into our air every weekday morning and afternoon? It’s pretty easy to recycle plastic bags, but there’s no way to recover the millions of gallons of gasoline mommies and daddies waste every day when they drive their kids to school.
“Why back in my day, we walked to school,” I can hear many of us say. “We marched through six feet of snow — and it was uphill both ways!” That daily exercise may have been one of the reasons old farts are still around today to reminisce. And the time us fogeys spent socializing with our schoolmates along the way helped us socialize a lot better than what takes place in the backseat of the family’s Ford Explorer.
It would be easy to speculate that the oil companies are not going to discourage the modern meme — they know how it enhances their profits. No, the culprits are the parents who choose to believe that walking to school is dangerous. They watch the so-called news. That predator back in East Orange, New Jersey, could be hiding in the bushes around the corner in Burbank, Calif. “Times have changed,” they’ll tell you. “Times have changed.”
That’s bull crap, I say. I believe that it’s more about keeping up (read that as “completing”) with the other parents in the my-kid-is-more-special-than-yours-is competition. Everyone knows that the best thing they could do for their kids is to encourage them to get exercise. Heck. American kids are fatter than they’ve ever been and the skyrocketing cases Type II diabetes will shorten their lives. Yes, it’s likely you will live have a longer lifespan than your kids will.
I’d support a campaign to encourage the nearly lost art of walking to school. Police are suggesting that communities agree to no-drive zones within two blocks of schools. The idea is that parents could drop off their kids fairly close to the school — and pray that that pervert won’t snatch them up.