Blogger V. Twitter - Recycling News Happens Fast [StormX]

There are two reasons why the number of Good Point Ideas blog posts has declined in the past 24 months.

The first relates to an increase in use of Twitter. As I noted 5 years ago, Twitter is misunderstood as a "squawking box". Sure, there's lots of inane squawking on Twitter. But the most important thing on the Twitter site is in the top right hand... the Search Box.

"Following" a thousand people is pretty impossible. I trim it down with a FairTradeRecycling list of twitter posters I follow more closely. But it is the "saved search term" feature that we need to pay attention to. It allows you to get an early scoop... and if it turns out to be clickbait, it's only 160 characters or whatever.

So ten years ago, the incredible idea below would have been subject of a blog, which would take me 45 minutes to write (and if readers are lucky, another hour to re-edit).  Now I post it bam on Twitter.

Storm Water Trash Catch Nets

I saw this on a repost from an old pal Wim Roskam on Facebook, who in turn found it on Architecture and Designs rather cool Facebook page.  The problem with stormwater carried litter is obvious if you've been to an African city like Accra, Lagos, Dakar or Douala.  The litter on the beaches is depressing and ubiquitous, and no amount of white savior plastic straw abstinence is going to save the sea creatures there.

STORMX is the license holder (image above is from North American licensee The net baggies allow water to run through, but catch the debris... which is the actual culprit of urban flooding - falsely blamed on scrappers of Agbogbloshie 40 months ago. 2015 was the same year that Twitter helped a youtube video of a turtle with a straw stuck in its nose go viral... which led to a LOT of journalist ink going into the plastic straw bans.

While these two screenshots of tweets above each show the power of Twitter, they also show its weakness, and make the case for longer form journalism - and blogger analysis like this.

The turtle tweet is more poignant because it is more close-up.

You can see the micro-pollution of a plastic straw in the poor beast's nose. You can't see a straw in the StormX drain catcher. I imagine that for the drain nets to be effective, they can't even catch something as small as a plastic straw.

Like mining pollution, visible from outer space, stormwater born litter is the problem in the oceans, not plastic straws in developed country landfills. Adam Minter wrote a good essay on Bloomberg, but more people probably got the point of his article via his Bloomberg Twitter feed.

So twitter gives hot leads to people who already know how to think and analyze... people who know which boolean or search term to use in the top right corner. But it also fails people who react instinctively to poignant and trivial hashtag solutions... distracting liberals and conservatives alike, who are looking for nothing more than cheap-calorie-confirmation-bias-news-sampling.

Basel Action Network succeeded in fooling a generation of reporters using photos of kids at dumps and a supernova of fake statistical data (Imagine "80% of ocean waste is plastic straws" or "the vast majority - over 80% - of turtles die from plastic straws in theirn noses" behind the turtle campaign). Some journalists continue to cite the organization as something other than a blatant liar, and you can't fix that with a tweet...

But that point has been made, which is the second reason blogging has slowed. Using the blog to highlight a newsworthy solution - like StormX catch bags on urban African stormwater pipes, funded by our Waste Offset proposal (duty on disposables, similar to carbon neutral economies). Let the makers of plastic straws pay for one ton of StormX waste for every ton of straws they sell, and call it a wash. But blogging a second or third time about BAN, or even Ewaste Offsets, actually dilutes the content that I've already produced. If you are repeating yourself, you can lose efficacy. And if you write a whole blog about every idea (like StormX), you may have been more effective with a tweet.

See what I mean?  Before my 45 minutes of writing this, pal Mack Roark already scooped me on Facebook.

Another subject that was well enough covered 4 years ago was my company's continued cat and mouse battle with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. The point (of plumbing the depths of crass bias) has already been made. In 2017, we told ANR that we intended to open a separate flat TV reuse shop. We showed it to them, and rather than just ask me to register it as an ewaste collector (which it wasn't doing, but whatever, so I registered it), they threatened the TV repair shop with an AOD as an illegal trash disposal operation under RCRA. That AOD was drafted and sent to my lawyers two months after I registered it with other collectors (like Staples, Resource, Best Buy, etc - none of which are solid waste operations) on the form on the Agency's website. About 7k in frivolous legal bills, and they have so far refused my offer to pay for mediation (described as the state's glowing preferred option on the state website).

The relationship I have with certain Vermont regulators (not all, just a couple) is perhaps best illustrated by this million plus viewed cat and rat game on Youtube.

Vermont regulators may someday (not this time, gals) eventually kill our business, which an insider leaked is the openly stated intent of a small group of staff.  Most ANR and DEC people are not about that, but they might tend to shield their own people from criticism - or fom an audit by Vermont Auditor Doug Hoffer.  My kids suggested that I run for state auditor in a year or two... which forces me to be more careful with the blog.

Just kidding. Maybe.

If the state auditor or AG does their job and follows up on the formal Schumlin Executive Action 9/11 statute on conflict of interest (ANR staff killing the Opt Out Plan in 2013), I won't need to run. I'll do the world more good by running my business, recycling and reusing and adding to the 50,000 tons of used electronics we've diverted from Vermont landfills since my first collection in 1999, or writing insightful blogs. It will be a real shame if the administrators don't intervene and investigate the type of behavior typified by malicious prosecution under RCRA or $720,000 secret payments to competitors, or collusion to defraud OEMs seeking information on the Opt Out Plan.

1 comment:

Robin Ingenthron said...

On reflection, the StormX example photo is totally unrealistic for coastal cities in monsoon climates without urban waste collection. But it does focus our attention in the right place, towards engineered solutions to combine solid waste and stormwater runoff catchbasins in coastal cities. Our focus has to be visible from space, not on tortoise noses. Ocean cleanup will happen via solid waste and stormwater investments in coastal urban emerging markets.