Saturday, October 23, 2010

Keep America Beautiful

We are all grateful for the Keep America Beautiful campaign to curb littering. 
“Don’t be a litterbug”
“People start pollution, people can stop it”
“Every litterbit hurts”

Highway signs warning of $1000 fines for littering brought responsibility to the public. It was an effective campaign and good to bring consciousness to the problem of litter. Litter really was a problem. Still is. In the TV series Mad Men we were jolted by an early 60's picnic scene of historical realism where the mom casually shakes out the blanket on the grass and papers and cans go flying. Something we would never do today-dutifully and virtuously we throw trash into waste bins and even separate things into compost, recycling, and garbage. We've been trained by all those public service ads (paid for by the public)—Iron Eyes Cody shedding a tear for the lost innocence of a wild America.

But under the recast convention of keeping America beautiful the real action came when "bottle bills" found their way into public legislation. Manufacturers were scheduled to become responsible for the "no deposit-no return" containers. Fees were to be added to beer and soft-drink containers. The Keep America Beautiful campaign pointed the arrow of responsibility away from manufacturers and 180° back to the consumer. A very good move for profits and a very bad move for our world. Bottle bills were defeated over and over again, even recently in California where producer responsibility was cast as a culprit in "job loss."

We created Beauty Bar for an exhibit at the Berkeley Art Center. All of these beauty product bottles and tubes and applicators came to us washed up on Kehoe Beach on our 1000-yard stretch of beach. To really Keep America Beautiful, become aware of green washing and point the finger back at producers. Demand real bottle bills from your legislators.

Why do we insist profits are more important than posterity?

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