Monday, September 01, 2008

throwaway - Part 3

... being part three of an ongoing series on wastefulness and frugality: see parts One and Two for previous posts ...

... ... ... so what set me off on this warpath against wastefulness??

This > > >

(sorry, took this pic on the sly in the local White Hen / 7-11)

This, to me, is the ultimate in waste. This is an affront to all of my senses.

What is "this", you ask??

... no-return rental DVDs ...

... and what makes them no-returns? They become unplayable after 48hrs ... and are then to. just. be. thrown. away.

Yes - the ultimate in this throwaway society - watch and throw!!

The culprit? (I am so NOT linking to them!)

Their business model is certainly ingenious, adding yet another spin to the innovation brought about by Netflix. This time it's not just "no late fees", "arrives in your mailbox" and "no need to return to the store" ... it's "no MONTHLY fees", "get one by mail, or in a kiosk, or at a convenience store near you" and best of all "no need to get off your fat lazy ass to drop DVD off in the mail or at the store, just harm Mother Nature one DVD at a time by throwing it away when you're done". Oh wait, that's a plus????


okay okay okay so they have a page on "recycling" and (this is the silver lining) I discover that DVDs now are recyclable... yay!


Flexplay claims "Most local recycling programs accept the polycarbonate plastics used to manufacture DVDs" - ummmm yeeaaahhhh.... first and foremost, polycarbonate falls into category #7 ("other"), which has traditionally not been recycled. Also, I looked and looked and looked and didn't find anything within the City of Chicago sites that specified DVDs were accepted; they do take #7s but a DVD isn't a "plastic bottle or container" is it?

Oh hey, you know the recent health concerns surrounding Bisphenol A (BPA)? Bisphenol A has been known to leach from the plastic lining of canned foods and, to a lesser degree, polycarbonate plastics that are cleaned with harsh detergents or used to contain acidic or high-temperature liquids (baby bottles!!). There's that pesky #7 again.

Now, in the million years (I kid you not!) it takes for a CD (and I assume similarly for DVDs ) to completely decompose in a landfill, will a byproduct of this decomposition be BPA? Yikes!! Because it's not unheard of for landfills to contaminate groundwater and/or aquifers by leakage, eh?


Let's get back to flexplay for a minute...

I concede one small point to them: there is this option online where users can request a postage pre-paid electronic label to recycle expired Flexplay discs. but... helloo?? ... this is for your target market of people who don't want to bother mailing back "actual" DVDs?! What makes you think they would then bother with getting a mailing label let alone actually mailing the darned thing to a recycling facility??!! Do you think your target market CARES about the environment if they are agreeable to purchasing unusable-in-48hrs DVDs?? I think not.

And the clincher?? "And of course, a Flexplay No-Return DVD Rental completely eliminates the energy usage and emissions associated with a return trip to the video rental store."* WHOOO-PUH-DEEEE-DOOOO!!! Again: WHAT ABOUT THE ACTUAL DVDs AND THEIR IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT???

Bottom line? Flexplay = FAIL!!

A parting note: Like I typed earlier, the silver lining to Flexplay is the discovery/confirmation that DVDs are, in fact, recyclable, even though not here in Chicagoland. There are other options to consider (see here, here, here and here). As such - if you're one of those who occasionally gets "bad discs" when ripping/burning whatnot, or if you've got unplayable discs for some reason, please don't just throw them in the trash!! Accumulate them until they are worth sending to any of those sites, please? Sure, you may have to pay postage, but what's $5 against the long-term impact of those discs that would otherwise do nothing but harm?

More importantly, it's vital that we realise that recycling, while important, is a small fix for a very very very flawed system. See The Story of Stuff for what I mean.

On behalf of Mother Earth, and our future generations, I thank you for taking the time to REDUCE the waste you generate, REUSE whatever you do have, and in addition to that, RECYCLE as much as possible to close the loop.

[*lynne* hops off soapbox]

* taken from Flexplay's "recycling" page; again, I am so NOT linking to them!!


  1. woah! have not been here for quite a while!! lotsa informations !!! cool!!! babe!!

  2. That is utterly appalling. It stands to be even worse than all those AOL installation discs that people would get in the mail. This is something that people will actually seek out to use -- only to throw away. I'm so disappointed in this company!

    -- Identity Crisis Girl

  3. Wow- that is just terrible. I am shocked that in these days that a company would still do something like that. Crazy.


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