Pirate Party Paper Palluza

My nephew has spent the last two months planning a surprise party for his mom.  The theme? Pirates. Realize, that the boy tends to run with something, like a dog with a meaty bone.  We’ve had pirate party planning meetings, pirate party related e-mails,  phone calls galore and even a ‘kit’ (at $2.oo) which included a binder filled with paper: agenda, tasks, outline, pirate history, suggested food items to bring, costume requirements, evaluation… Did I mention that the boy’s mom’s work involves statistics?  ‘sponge bob’ was the code name for this party.  Frankly, by the time I  put on my castaway outfit, I was feeling a little sponge bob’ed out.  The fact that my costume was taken straight from my closet, did not cheer me up either. My tattered looking white cotton pants and ragged t-shirt were very Gilligan. It is winter in Nova Scotia, so the thin pants necessitated long johns. The sandals and floppy sunhat were carried in a bag, and proper arctic boots and wool hat were worn for travel to party central.  When I arrived, I was greeted by loud theme music (soundtrack to Pirates of the Caribbean movie) and a power point presentation on the computer.  The walls were decorated with creative pirate art which was described to me in detail. I steeled myself and slunk into the kitchen with my requisite food contributions.  At long last, mom arrived home and Pirate Mother Appreciation Party 2008 was underway.  Food is the meat and potatoes of any party. Actually, for me, it’s just the potatoes…I’m a vegetarian. Worse,  I’m one of those environmentally conscious vegetarians. So, when the expensive, glossy pirate paper plates, paper cups, and matching pirate napkins were offered, I passed, saying, “I’m not using disposable paper products anymore…” . My sister’s ex is a smart cookie, and a nice person. However, ‘D’ s response to my paper policy was not very clever. “It’s recyclable. It’ll get all turned into compost eventually”, ‘D’ announces in a dead serious manner.  This was not really the time for a lecture on environmental responsibility. After all, we were in the clutches of  my nephew’s pirate party mania. We had a schedule to keep. Outdoors for Pirate pinata at 7:00 pm, followed by sparklers at 7:15… The moment was not seized.  I’ve had some time to stew, so I offer these thoughts: The THREE R’s (reduce, reuse and recycle) are the trinity of eco-passion. It does not mean, that the option to recycle should  give anyone carte blanche to go through the stuff in wasteful excess. Let’s look at the Pirate paper plates etc. The trees felled to create this stuff died in vain.  Until their demise, they were contributing to the air quality of the world. The machinery used to log them as well as the trucks hauling them to the paper mill,  burned fossil fuel which contributed to green house gases. The paper mill also sucked up energy (likely generated by coal fired electrical plants) and belched out more noxious substances into the atmosphere and into the water system.  The raw paper product was probably shipped overseas to China or Indonesia on a slow boat that was burning ‘bunker’ oil, the dirtiest form of fuel.  At the Asian factory, the base paper was turned into napkins and cups with colour designs stamped on them.  The environmental policies and restrictions of Asian factories are negligible. I bet that the factory where ‘sponge bob’ pirate paper stuff was made, is guilty of contributing mega tons of toxic fumes and waste into the environment.  I’m not enthusiastic about the exploitation of vulnerable people who work for meager wages in these factories either.  Now, the packaged plates, and napkins etc. must be shipped back to North America…more  dirty bunker used by the ships.   I’ll skip ahead to the recycling aspect.  Once the party snacks are devoured, the used pirate paper plates and other ‘recyclables’ are neatly placed in the appropriate ‘blue’ bag and left at the curb. A fossil fuel-burning truck picks up the bag and hauls it to the recycling plant. The plant requires energy to operate its machinery and power its lights. It’s very expensive to turn paper back into something usable, if indeed these glossy, food stained things are ‘passed’ and begin the process. Often, paper and other ‘recyclables’ are sent to the landfill instead.  Had I been thinking on my feet (the ones with the Gilligan sandals on them), I would have launched my logical and sound appeal to nix the paper. However, we had a Pirate Party schedule to keep and I did not want to my nephew to feel that I was ‘stealing his thunder’.  “Bring on the sparklers!”, I said instead.

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