Pretending to be Responsible

Ok, I pretend to be responsible all the time. I sometimes feel that, although I am supposed to be an adult, I, like many others who are supposed to be adults, am just winging it. I guess I manage to pay my bills and buy life insurance and take the kids to the birthday party, but I don’t really know what I’m doing. I get the responsible thing done, in the end, but don’t tell anyone that the seat of my pants is really what flies the plane around here.

When it comes to businesses who advertise and sell things and affect lots of people, I feel like a different attitude should hold sway, however. I mean, you can’t just say or even infer that your product or your company is one thing when really you are pretending. Exaggeration shouldn’t be allowed when lots of dollars or lots of people are involved. I saw an example of such hyperbole today, on a paper towel dispenser in a restroom at a conference I attended.

IMG_2108It is this last line with which I have an issue. “Closed loop” to me means a cycle. In this case I am led to believe that paper gets used, recycled, turned into paper, recycled, and so on. The “loop” gets “closed.” A loop keeps going. It doesn’t stop. Otherwise it is not a loop. In this case, however, there are three things, but they are not in a loop.

To sum up the “Power of Three” here: the paper company collects paper, uses it to create further paper, then sells it, possibly to some of the same people who provided the paper they collected. This is a good thing. It means that at least some paper gets made from recycled paper, rather than from trees. But this isn’t a loop.

The original paper comes from trees. The recycled paper gets turned into lower grade paper–it is downcycled. Eventually it cannot be turned into paper any more, as it is too degraded. There may be some back and forth here but it is definitely not a closed loop.

What wrapped up the whole thing into a tidy little ironic package was the waste basket below the paper dispenser. The paper in that dispenser may have come from paper, but the paper being dispensed ended up in a plastic bag in a landfill.  The top of that plastic trash bin makes a closed loop, but I am guessing that is not the one to which the paper company was referring.

Before I left that little room I realized I had a closed loop of my own. I had picked up my water bottle, I had processed the water, and then I provided a product to be taken away. That product would get recycled and perhaps one day return to me when I filled my water bottle again. Sounds like I might know what I am doing after all but let’s be honest, I’m still just winging it.




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