Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How Far We Aren't

The industry through which I earn my pay is not a very sustainable one in any way, shape, or form. I knew this. But it really hit me a few weeks ago. Pull up a mouse, let me tell you my tale.

Hollywood is all about image. In casting offices all over, images are printed out again and again and again. Computers have helped cut out a little of the massive mounds, pounds, reams of paper, but not by much. It's about holding the image in your hands, making up boards, discarding. (And since it's about paper, it's about ink cartridges too. How many used? Hard to know. Color printouts all day long.But that's another topic.) I noticed, in one such office, two giant blue barrels, into which the discards go. I gently inquired how often those hit overflow-point. I was informed, it isn't too bad, they get filled and emptied maybe every other day. At this point, I am still slightly horrified by the waste, but not completely dismayed yet.

No, that came shortly afterwards. The tale goes on that the bins are taken by a shredding company. After all, these pages contain personal information that would be very bad to get out, and for some reason, shredding this stuff is not enough. And here's where the horror comes in: because simply shredding the personal information is not enough (???), it is far too dangerous for the shredding company to do anything with that shredded stuff. So they keep it. Yes, they keep these bags and bags and bags and bags of shredded paper and material in storage. In storage. It never goes anywhere. It just sits there. this prime paper (that I at least thought, well, it's going to get recycled) just goes to some storage place somewhere and sits. Moldering. Rotting. Just... sitting. Ignored, soon forgotten... pointless.

Not that I should have been surprised. I've seen first-hand what so-called recycling is really like. We think so long as we throw plastic in the bins, everything is hunky-dory. it's not. That stuff, IF it even gets processed, just gets shipped overseas. We don't DO anything with it. Someone in China might, or it might just get dumped in some third-world country. All we know is it's gone from our sight.

One office in one town in one state in one country. Multiply that by all the offices you can think of that shred documents then multiply that by towns and cities you can think of off the top of your head, and now you can start to get a sense of what I felt that day.

We're taking on water. And we are not bailing fast enough.