Thumbs up: E-Cycle
The state’s electronic waste recycling program just celebrated its second birthday with results that are pretty impressive. Since its inception, the E-Cycle Washington program has collected 78 million pounds of discarded televisions, computers and monitors. The second year of the program, which is funded by the product manufacturers, was even more successful than the first: 39.5 million pounds compared with 38.5 million pounds in 2009. Looked at it another way, unwanted TVs and computer components are arriving at 230 collections sites statewide at the rate of about 5.8 pounds per year per person. The program diverts electronic equipment from the landfill, keeping heavy metals and toxic chemicals used to manufacture the products out of the environment. The program also has helped reduce the shipment of electronic waste to Third World countries where recycling operations are primitive and lead to chemical exposure to workers, including children, and the environment. With more consumers junking their old TVs for flat screen digital TVs, the program couldn’t be more timely. And computers have an even shorter lifespan than TVs, adding to the need for a well-run program such as E-Cycle Washington. Thurston County residents are doing their part, recycling 1.6 million pounds in 2010. That’s 3.9 percent of the state total. To find the nearest E-Cycle Washington drop-off site, visit www.ecyclewashington.org.
Thumbs down: Border Fence
The Obama administration pulled the plug last week on a failed southern border security project — the high-tech fence initiated in 2005 and trumpeted by Congress in 2006 as the answer to the porous border with Mexico. After spending some $1 billion in taxpayer money to build 53 miles of fencing, the facts are clear — the security measure is inadequate and a waste of money. The fence was to be a network of cameras, ground sensor and radars used by the U.S. Border Patrol to catch illegal immigrants. The aborted project serves as a costly reminder that there’s no substitute for comprehensive reform of immigration laws to remedy problems associated with illegal immigration.
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Thumbs up: Art Exhibit
By now, the art exhibit featuring 150 works of art by legendary Pablo Picasso has been packed up at the Seattle Art Museum and shipped to Richmond, Va., the next leg on a unique global tour made possible by the Musée National Picasso in Paris. The French museum is the permanent home to this collection of art that Picasso had kept for himself prior to his death in 1973 with the intent of shaping his own personal legacy. A major remodeling project at the Paris museum made the tour possible. Fortunately for residents of the Northwest, the Seattle Art Museum bid successfully to host the exhibit for all to see from early October through Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. More than 325,000 people toured the exhibit, shattering all attendance records for a single exhibit at SAM. The exhibit was emotionally powerful and thought-provoking, helpful in understanding the life of arguably the must famous artist of the 20th century. Thank you, Seattle Art Museum, for hosting the exhibit and making it accessible to so many.
Thumbs down: Bankruptcies
The Great Recession technically may be over, but the effects linger like a bad hangover. A case in point is the number of bankruptcies filed in 2010 by Thurston County families, individuals and businesses. Filings rose 1,270 in 2010, up 10 percent from 2009. Unfortunately, the underlying causes for bankruptcy, including high unemployment and homeowners with mortgages they can’t afford to pay, are still inflicting economic damage. It means the pace of new filings is likely to remain high for businesses and private parties in dire financial straits.