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At the end of Edward Humes’ book on garbage, Garbology, he shares a short heart-tugging story:

Bea Johnson … sees signs of progress.

When she found disposable plastic tasting spoons strewn on the sidewalk downtown, she asked the nearby ice-cream store to do something about it. After a brief boycott and the shop owner’s tearful response, the shop began offering stainless steel tasting spoons that it washed between customers. Score another one against the disposable economy, Johnson laughs.

Nah – using energy to heat water to clean the spoons is costless and pollution-free, moreso than the extremely tiny marginal amount required to make plastic spoons. Nah – using water to clean spoons must use less water than to make spoons. Nah – using sponges and soaps to clean spoons must be better than making plastics. Nah – using valuable labor time to clean and carry spoons is clearly costless. All of which of course just HAS to be better than tossing it, or the damage that may be caused from those spoons ending up in oceans or in other unintended places. Assured victory indeed.

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