Saturday, April 23, 2011

Calling B.S. on a talking point

Some busybodies want you to feel guilty for using disposable diapers, so they organized this publicity stunt.
Dirty diapers can be a mess not only for parents, but also for landfills — a problem participants brought awareness to by setting a Guinness World Record on Saturday for the most cloth diapers changed at the same time.

The Great Cloth Diaper Change 2011, organized by a group of cloth diaper enthusiasts, had 400 sites across 24 countries help set the record. San Antonio supported the cause with 73 baby/parent pairs participating.

Using cloth diapers instead of disposables is better for the environment, safer for babies and cheaper, said Kim Webb, the committee chair for the San Antonio site, held at a La Quinta Inn & Suites.
(from the Express-News)

But the main reason I bring this up is not to give them publicity (which I most definitely have, I admit) but to draw attention to this little talking point.
“It can take hundreds of years for diapers to decompose in a landfill,” Webb said.
Really? How does she know?

I'm not being sarcastic, I really want to know how anyone can determine that it will take hundreds of years for an item to decompose when that item hasn't even been in existence for one hundred years. My complaint may sound silly, but I find claims like this to be flippant, as in frivolously disrespectful and shallow. Every time I hear something like this -- and it's always from an environmentalist that wants me to change the way I live my life -- my bullshit meter shoots to the red. I can't help thinking they are throwing out an arbitrary number to scare anyone in earshot because they don't think they can win the debate by the merits of their arguments alone. Why else would they use such a tactic?

Hundreds of years in a landfill before a diaper breaks down? Bullshit. Five hundred years for a styrofoam cup? Bullshit. One thousand years for a plastic bag? Absolute bullshit! (Take note, City Council.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for reducing waste where practical and for generally not dirtying up the air we breathe or the water we drink. But let's be reasonable, and let's propose new ways of reducing pollution and disposing of trash without resorting to crap statistics that cannot be proven or disproven for another couple of centuries.

(Crossposted at Strange in San Antonio)

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