Republicans bring back plastic

by Maureen Fiedler

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Usually, as a confirmed news hound, I am totally absorbed in major stories like the Middle East uprisings, labor protests in Wisconsin, and the draconian budget cuts proposed by House Republicans.

But this time, news from the cafeteria of the House of Representatives caught my attention. It seems that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi had a policy of "greening" the Capitol Building in many ways. Among them was the introduction of biodegradable cups in the House cafeteria, as well as a composting program to go with it.

This seems totally in line with the environmental ethics of all our major faith traditions, including the Catholic church.

Now, in what has to stand as one of the pettiest moves of all time, Speaker John Boehner has ditched the biodegradables and the composting program to return to the earth-killing world of plastic foam cups (proper scientific name: polystyrene). And just to top it off: who is selling these cups to the House cafeteria? None other than George Wurtz, a former executive at a subsidiary of Koch Industries, who is currently the owner of WinCup.

I did not instantly remember why polystyrene was so awful, so I went to the Web site, Climate Progress, and re-discovered the facts. It says (quoting an article from Wonkette):

Foamed polystyrene is a miraculous invention that manages to be completely awful through every step of its near-eternal "life cycle" — it is manufactured with petroleum that must be imported from Middle East dictatorships; toxic "styrene oligomers" migrate into the food it holds; it’s highly flammable and produces black poisonous smoke, and most of the 25 billion polystyrene cups tossed every year will take more than half a millennium to degrade.

Sounds to me like something far worse than the budget deficit, John.

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