It’s a wrapper
The use of plastic bags is what we have come to expect or demand to keep contents in pristine condition (“Shrinking our wrap”, October 27), whether the contents are magazines, food, household or other items. On his return to New Zealand after several years away, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, was reported as being “gobsmacked” by the amount of plastic we use.
The environmental mantra “reduce, re-use, re-purpose or recycle” demonstrates that individuals, companies, organisations and waste managers have options. The least desirable destination for used plastic is landfills.
However, there are big energy costs in all aspects of the recycling process, and the carbon emissions associated with these activities also have the potential to contribute to climate change.
Re-using by way of refilling plastic containers such as those used for detergent, shampoo, handwash and cleaners goes some way towards addressing the plastic problem. However, very few manufacturers currently offer this option.
In New Zealand, at least, very little attention appears to be paid to the concept of reducing plastic use. Articles on how households could do so would be very welcome. A column where readers could offer suggestions could be a valuable first step in helping us take more responsibility for the waste we generate. C Blackford (Auckland)
Just received your excellent “Drastic plastic” (October 27) issue. Why do you send my copy in a plastic bag instead of the “old-fashioned” paper envelope?
Lynn Butcher (Palmerston North)
The circulation team at Bauer Media, the Listener’s publisher, is looking into alternative waterproof wrapping options. Bauer is an Enviro-Mark Gold Certified business, which has been recognised for outstanding performance in environmental management, but we’re still improving and striving for more eco-friendly packaging. However, most of the paper packages on the market are sealed with a toxic glue that does not decompose. In the meantime, the present wrapping is the same soft plastic as used for bread bags. It is recyclable and can be left in collection bins at most supermarkets. – Editor
POLITICS OFF THE MARKET
The furore sparked by Jami-Lee Ross ( Politics, October 27) over political donations adds to the perception that such gifts are corrupt in that some influence or favour is often expected in return. An answer to this would be to ban donations, possibly with exceptions for membership fees and personal donations under a low threshold.
Instead, political parties should be funded by the state, as is the rest of the political process. A formula, perhaps based on a balance of polls, party membership and past voting, could be devised to allocate funding. Of course, parties already receive some state funding according to a well-tested formula, so there is a precedent and template for fully state funding the political process.
Such an idea is sure to draw objections, especially from big businesses and the larger political parties, which is probably even more reason to adopt it. Perhaps businesses would be prepared to pay a small “democratic” tax in lieu of donations, which could then be used to help fund the whole process.
Removing the financial influence of big business would greatly enhance the equity, transparency and fairness of our democratic system. Tony Bevin (Raumati Beach)
Ann Dredge’s story, as told by
her loving and determined husband, Peter (“Against the flow”, October 27), is a call to arms for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It also raises awareness of what we can do before symptoms of this awful disease are evident.
Saddest of all is the lack of options people feel they have and some of the stuck thinking by some doctors.
I hope the Dredges’ story helps remedy that. For more resources, go to apoe4.info, which has been established by people with genetic confirmation of their higher Alzheimer’s risk.
Sharon Nates (Greenlane, Auckland) LETTER OF THE WEEK
The article on Dale Bredesen’s prescription for Alzheimer’s relies on assertion, personal anecdote, a sample size of one person, slagging off the medical profession and disparate bits of science cobbled together to create an unchallenged shaky edifice of
Emeritus professor, faculty of medicine and health sciences, University of Auckland
TIMES OF OUR LIVES
As a man in my late eighties, I find it difficult to view the future optimistically. There are three main reasons for that.
First, our problems – climate change, for instance – are global, yet there is no global organisation to co-ordinate a response. Second, economists say that capitalism is out of date and needs replacing, just as the present system took over from feudalism, which in turn displaced tribalism. Yet I can find no evidence that there is political enthusiasm for a new economic model.
Last, we need a new understanding of morality, a point made recently by an Australian academic in an article headed “The greatest moral challenge of our time? It’s how we think about morality itself.”
The world has changed since the formulation of the religious laws from which most of our moral thinking is derived. The one in which we now live requires a morality that recognises gender equality, the