It’s not easy being green

Editorial director Brad Dick isn’t opposed to recycling, but he believes it should remain optional and easy to do.

It's been amazing to see the speed with which Al Gore and his minions have been able to convince most of world that the planet's death is just around the corner if we don't “go green.”

I'm not opposed to recycling, but I believe it should remain optional and easy to do. Unfortunately, my belief ran into reality when I met the recycle nazi at my local Big Box store.

The company is offering a $10 “gift certificate” if you bring in an old television or CRT. What I hadn't noticed was the fine print, which requires the consumer to buy that gift certificate.

Needless to say, my misunderstanding collided with Bob, the operations manager, who threatened to have me arrested for depositing “toxic waste” on his property. That's when I took the opportunity to remind him that technically, TV sets weren't classified as “toxic waste,” but rather “hazardous waste.” There is a difference. That's when Bob's head exploded. Fortunately, the management literally dragged Bob off to another part of the store, so I could continue talking with the other staff.

The outcome was fine. I took my two TV sets home and examined the note on the Best Buy Web site. Yep, at the bottom, there is a note that you must buy the gift certificate. My mistake was believing an article on CNET that said nothing about having to buy the gift certificate. That article claimed Best Buy was exchanging the gift cards for the old televisions. I mistakenly thought the company was acting in the planet's interest and using the gift cards as an advertising gimmick. Silly me!

OK, I misunderstood, and after verifying the rules, which are not obvious, I simply took the TV sets to another Best Buy store. Those employees were polite, and I purchased two “gift cards.” Trust me, though, I won't use those gift cards to buy any TV sets from Best Buy.

Recycling is one of those things that you're either really into or not at all, and this is where Penn and Teller come in. They produced a program analyzing the costs and benefits of recycling. Ultimately, their research showed that much of the benefit claimed by recycling fanatics is untrue, or, as Penn says, “BS.”

There is a way in which advocates on both sides of this issue can win. That's when manufacturers agree to take back old products when new ones are purchased. I know that Thomson Grass Valley has such a policy where if, for instance, you buy a new GV switcher, the company will take back your old GV switcher at no charge and have it properly recycled.

It's this kind of cooperation between buyer and seller we need in both professional and consumer spaces. People will take steps to help maintain our planet's environment when recycling is easy and doesn't cost anything.

So, whether it's a TV set or a production switcher, consider the benefits of recycling. You'll feel good about it when you're done. However, don't expect today's process to be easy or free. It seems there's a “gotcha” everywhere you go. Murphy is always waiting in the wings, no matter your good intensions.

Fortunately, experience says that 95 percent of the bad things you think might happen, never happen. That means if you focus on the 5 percent of things that could happen, you'll be better prepared. Best of all, you probably won't have to deal with Bob.

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