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NPR Exposes Plastic Recycling ‘Scam’—Almost None of it is Reused


TrueTomHarley

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I have just one word of advice for you: “Plastics,” said the parent’s comfortable friend to Benjamin Braddock. Plastics—the new growth field in 1967, the year The Graduate movie came out—just as computers and then the internet would be to succeeding generations. Plastics—a graduate could make a killing in it.

But Ben didn’t want any career advice just then. Just out of college, with no goals at all, the only thing he knew is that he wanted no part of the phony monied world that had been his upbringing. He lolled around aimless at his folks’ upper crust home that year and ended up in an affair with his mom’s socialite friend—her idea, not his. “Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?” is a line from the movie that has endured.

It is the same Mrs. Robinson that Simon and Garfunkel sung about. Mike Nichols, film director had been after Paul Simon to write news songs for the movie and he didn’t want to do it—he was busy. Finally he said that he did have this song kicking around about times past and Joe DiMaggio and Mrs. Roosevelt, and the director said he’d take it! Just change Roosevelt to Robinson and he had a deal.

This explains why baseball great Joe DiMaggio blew a gasket when he heard his name in the song—so says the Ken Burns documentary Baseball. Who are those hippy long-hairs to drag him into their immoral movie that had nothing to do with him?! Joe was a traditional type of guy. Others in baseball just barely calmed him down with the plea that, while the mention may not have had any context, it was a compliment.

That line about going into plastics is another line that endures. At what point did ‘plastic’ come to stand for an entire world of materialism devoid of deeper values? It couldn’t have been just then in 1967. The plastic revolution of consumption was just getting underway. 

Yet if fits so well with an NPR report of 53 years later—of September 2020. There has never been any meaningful recycling of plastic! Ten percent is all that has ever been reused—tops. And the industry knew it all along! Recycled plastic doesn’t hold up well, is expensive to make, whereas new plastic is cheap. But with environmentalism sweeping the globe, that is the last thing people wanted to hear, so they weren’t told that. They were told that those recycling numbers within triangles on every plastic item meant something, and earth-friendly people the world over—I do it myself—sort out all their plastic for recycling bins. Waste Management sends the truck by a second time to pick it up.

It doesn’t mean a thing. It all gets buried—all but 10%. For me personally this would have been fine ammo—better than the ammo that I did use—when I was kicking back at some atheist deriding Witnesses for preaching about God’s kingdom whereas they could be rolling up their sleeves to help with saving the planet! Look, we’ve nothing against saving the planet, I told him, and when there are recycling laws on the books Jehovah’s Witnesses no doubt obey  them more closely than most because they are good at obeying laws—they don’t figure that each new law is a line drawn in the sand that they have to cross in order to prove their courage. Yeah—they love cooperating in this regard, but it’s a little stupid to think they are saving the planet when, in one gigantic industry blunder, millions of gallons of oil can destroy the entire seashore. The BP gulf oil spill had just occurred and President Obama spouted tough talk about “kicking asses” over it. 

It was a great retort to the anti-religion humanist, but the worldwide plastic recycling scam would have been even better. Can someone look this fellow up for me? I’ll run this new one by him. “Look, I'm all for local clean-up-the-park days. Same with clean-up-the-roadside days,” I said. No one of Jehovah’s Witnesses will ever speak against them. In fact, in Russia, Witnesses do clean up the public parks—or at least they did before the ban. I didn’t know that at the time, but when I found out I included that tidbit in Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia. 

“In Russia, congregations do it all the time,” Anton Chivchalov told me—the one who keeps an eye on the current persecution in that land. “Most congregations do it. It has become a custom for them. Parks are more or less okay, other people clean them too, but still there is garbage to clean, and sometimes the authorities just lack enough workers, so there may be tons of garbage at times. We clean not only parks, but any public areas. We usually ask the city administration to assign some areas for us to clean.”

I speculated within Dear Mr. Putin on how it must make a great backdrop for informal conversations on God’s purpose to make the earth a paradise. Do Witnesses still do it, with police guarding them to make sure no one talks about God? I’ll have to ask Chivchalov. Still, even as they did it, they did not imagine that they were negating the verse of how humans will be “ruining the earth” when God intervenes—ruining it, not saving it, and the NPR story that the emperor wore no clothes despite his loud voice—he recycles hardly any plastic at all despite telling people he does so they will not feel bad about buying plastic and will buy more—was an perfect case in point.

And young Benjamin Braddock, the aimless college grad of the movie, knew it instinctively—that the world his parents’s generation wanted to thrust him into was plastic—promising 100% and delivering 10%. ‘He probably went into plastics after all and did very well for himself,’ said some cynical commentator on the movie—so many of that generation sold out, as they do in all generations. Be that as it may, the author of the book The Graduate did not sell out—he died penniless in 2020, after a lifetime of giving away assets. More on him later.

 

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I have just one word of advice for you: “Plastics,” said the parent’s comfortable friend to Benjamin Braddock. Plastics—the new growth field in 1967, the year The Graduate movie came out—just as compu

The guy who wrote The Graduate—the book, not the movie—gave away all the money he made from writing it. He bought a house with his one-time movie rights. He gave it away within weeks—he would give thr

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On 9/28/2020 at 8:32 AM, TrueTomHarley said:

the author of the book The Graduate did not sell out—he died penniless in 2020, after a lifetime of giving away assets. More on him later.

The guy who wrote The Graduate—the book, not the movie—gave away all the money he made from writing it. He bought a house with his one-time movie rights. He gave it away within weeks—he would give three away during his lifetime—a lifetime that ended July 2020, He was 81.

The movie ‘The Graduate’ was a sensation—the highest grossing film of 1967, with seven academy award nominations. It is fussed over to this day for capturing the “alienation of modern youth”—though they are not so modern anymore, have long since put their alienation behind them, and many have done quite well for themselves, thank you very much. Many ultimately chose the life of plastic that the Graduate protagonist rejected.

But not author Charles Webb and his wife. Several times they came into money, and each time they would give it away. The Graduate movie is ranked the 17th greatest American film of all time by the American Film Institute; the “coming of age story is indeed one for the ages,” gushes Rotten Tomatoes. Webb didn’t make a dime off it and didn’t want to. He wouldn’t even do book signings—they were “a sin against decency.”

What kind of a guy does this? Many times he received windfalls. Each time he gave it away. “Mercifully I wasn’t written into [the Graduate movie] deal,” he told the AP. “Nobody understands why I felt so relieved, but I count my longevity to not being swept into that. My wife and I have done a lot of things we wouldn’t have done if we were rich people. ... I would have been counting my money instead of educating my children.”

He’s not kidding about educating his children. He and his wife Fred—she took that name so as to identify with a group of men named Fred afflicted with low self-esteem (you’re guess is as good as mine)—pulled their two children from school. They homeschooled. This resonates with me because I did the same, only mine were not pulled out—they never saw the inside of a school other than an experimental 6th grade, after which both chose to homeschool again. 

Homeschooling wasn’t legal when Webbs did it. It was when we did, even if a little dicey—there were always unpredictable hoops to jump through. Once, the school district turned down my curriculum plan on the basis of, of all things, a weak music curriculum. The kids were enrolled in Suzuki violin, for crying out loud! I went to the library, copied and submitted some gobbledygook from a music textbook, and they were as happy as pigs in mud.

A set of older friends in another jurisdiction were constantly harassed over their homeschooling—much more so than us. Yet my pal later reflected on his younger kids that were homeschooled vs his older ones that were not, and observed that the those of the first batch were far better at interacting with all factions of the community. Pretty much the same experience here—not that we had the contrast but we did have the experience of kids who readily mixed with all ages—whereas when I was in grade school, those kids in even one grade up might have been on another planet, to say nothing of adults. “I had no idea that there were so many stupid people,” said my son in complete innocence after he enrolled in the community college at age 16 and began his second experience in the classroom. 

The Webbs moved around a lot, sometimes camping, sometimes living out of a Volkswagen bus. Oldest son John called that part of his education “unschooling.” I know what unschooling is, too. We did it at times. It is simply a less rigid homeschooling, with more forbearance for letting youngsters pursue their own interests. I’d love to speak with these two kids—now adults. How did they turn out? “Not a lot of people picked up on it, but the title of ‘The Graduate’ was supposed to convey it was about education,” Webb told some reporter in 2006. He wasn’t keen on the mainstream model.

Meanwhile, he and/or his artist wife did stints at KMart, picked fruit, cleaned houses. “When you run out of money, it’s a purifying experience,” he said. Besides the VW bus, they lived in motels, trailer parks, even a nudist colony—they managed that place during their tenure. They named their dog ‘Mrs. Robinson.’

Now, these two were not Jehovah’s Witnesses. I don’t want to imply that they were. (Have JWs ever preached in a nudist colony?) Yet we have so many people who have renounced financial comfort so as to “have a greater share in the ministry” that when I see it elsewhere, it resonates no less than the homeschooling. I count as a friend today someone whose pursuit of a full-time ministry within Jehovah’s Witnesses triggered estrangement from his unbelieving oil baron family. “Look, Eric! Texas tea!” I call his attention to any gas station that we pass. 

The book that became the movie is not autobiographical. “I got interested in the wife of a good friend of my parents and ... [realized] it might be better to write about it than to do it,” he told the online publication Thoughtcat in 2006. Yet much of it was his life—his remoteness from his wealthy connected parents, for example, along with their world that he found so superficial. His relationship with his heart specialist dad was “reasonably bad,” he said, and with his socialite mom, he “was always looking for crumbs of approval.” He had figured he might get a considerable number of those crumbs with the publication of his book, for she was an avid reader who might boast “My son is an author!” but he didn’t—probably the skewering of her lifestyle had something to do with it. 

Still, whether you give up every dime or not—you don’t have to do it just for the sake of doing it. The ministry of the apostle Paul caused him to know both “how to have an abundance and how to do without.” (Philippians 4:12) He knew and was comfortable in both places. This fellow was good at doing without, but he seems to have panicked at having an abundance. Sometimes you have to renounce your past. Sometimes in doing so, you swing too far the other way. 

Maybe it was a starving artist kind of thing. He even made a cliche over it: “The penniless author has always been the stereotype that works for me. . . . When in doubt, be down and out.” But not for any romantic reason—he pushed back at that notion. “We hope to make the point that the creative process is really a defense mechanism on the part of artists — that creativity is not a romantic notion.” It’s not like he would recommend it to others, or maybe even to himself. It is more like he felt driven to it, half against his will. I think of how so many comedians developed and honed their comedy as a means of defendIng themselves from school-age bullies. There is even a video that suggests that.

A character from one of his other books—he wrote eight—an alcoholic painter, says: “What’s important for me is that I keep doing it, keep painting, and hold on to that feeling which goes along with putting the paint of the canvas,” he wrote. “It’s all I have and all I need.” This, too, resonates with me, a fellow who imagines himself a writer—and inherits the pluses along with the minuses.

“Lots of people momentarily embrace the idea of leaving the rat race, like the characters in The Graduate,” said one obit writer. “Mr. Webb [and his wife] did it, with all the consequences it entailed. If they regretted the choice, they did not say so.” And, “Webb has such an easygoing charm about him, such a friendly and sincere presence,” another wrote years prior. This also resonates with me, who—no, that is going too far. In the dog park I constantly have to apologize for my dog, who gets grouchy in his old age, “just like me.”

As though to get in the final word, the condensed obituary in TheWeek Magazine read: “The Graduate author who ran from success” Did he? Or is it that they can only imagine their own definition of success there at TheWeek?

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