this is not a review: ‘what milly did’, by elise moser

 
Milly Zantow falls into the category of People You’ve Never Heard of Who Have Changed the World. In this case, the world of recycling. Because Milly Zantow is the person who created a tiny thing called the global recycling standard for plastic,  more commonly known as the-numbers-inside-those-little-triangles-on-your-water-bottles-and-stuff.

It’s what made plastic recycling possible.

But it’s the HOW this all came about that’s jaw dropping. What Milly Did  (a childrens’ book for all ages, including adults in my opinion) by Elise Moser, is an extraordinary story about a woman who, at age sixty or so, decides to do something about the growing problem of plastic in landfills.

9781554988938_1024x1024Turns out that plastic wasn’t recycled because no one thought it could be done.

Enter Milly, an ordinary woman, raised on a farm, who has no experience in anything even remotely related to anything to do with recycling but who just really believes that something can be done.

So she says pfffft  to the naysayers and starts reading about plastic; she studies it, takes courses, learns everything she can then cashes in her life insurance policy, buys a gigantic grinding machine and opens a company called E-Z Recycling where she and a few others do much of the grunt work by hand, seven days a week.

“She called the Borden Dairy Company in Milwaukee and asked them how they manufactured their plastic milk jugs. What did they do when they made a mistake? she asked. They told her they just melted the deformed jug down and reblew it. That was an ‘Aha!’ moment for Milly.”

Moser captures Milly’s spirit as a woman who is in no way ego driven. Nor is becoming rich her motivation; she simply wants to make sense of trash and to that end she does whatever she can to help people recycle, including establishing programs in nearby towns.

Eventually her vision catches on. Various community groups form, tipping fees for landfill sites are established and in 1988 her system for grading plastic is adopted by the Society of Plastics Industry, which means a standardized recycling practice across North America.

The story, of course, isn’t quite that simple. There are many hurdles along the way, people who laugh, who say that what she’s proposing is impossible, and then there are the times themselves, the 1970’s and early 80’s, which aren’t overly receptive, or even friendly, to the idea of recycling. Moser has done an excellent job of telling Milly’s story against this back drop of time and place.

A clever addition to the story are sidebars throughout the book, telling about bridges and boats made of plastic bottles, stats on current plastic usage and where it all goes, yo-yo trivia!, the ABCs of modern recycling, innovations in biodegradable plastic… all bite-sized, very readable for any age, and all to the accompaniment of sweet b&w illustrations by Scott Ritchie.

That this is such an unknown story is mind-boggling. I’m grateful to Elise Moser for telling it. It needs to be shared. I hope the book will find its ways to schools and to homes, not only as an eye-opener to an important piece of history, but to open at least two kinds of conversation… One,  about the problem of a planet full of garbage and, two, the power we have as individuals  to make the world better.

Finally, what maybe I love most about this story is what Milly didn’t  do… she didn’t complain, blame, whinge or whine or suggest that this problem to solve was someone else’s job… 

Or that the difficulties she faced were someone else’s fault.

She just got on with it.

The world could use more Milly.

peace. and love. pass it on.

DSC06001You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by

And so, become yourself
Because the past is just a goodbye
DSC06002Teach your children well
Their father’s hell did slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you’ll know by
DSC06004Don’t you ever ask them why
If they told you, you would cry
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you
DSC06008Teach your parents well
Their children’s hell will slowly go by
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you’ll know by
DSC06007Don’t you ever ask them why
If they told you, you would cry

So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you

 

ways to bee nice and messy

DSC05896
Don’t fret if you don’t see honey bees in your yard.
DSC05897
According to this piece by Eric Atkins, there are dozens of other kinds.

All are important. All are pollinators.
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And they want to live in the messy bits of your garden.
DSC05920
So make sure you have a few messy bits.

DSC05913Piles of rocks and sticks.

Also a fairie beach does not go amiss…
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General rule of thumb appears to be this:  don’t over-rake, over-prune or anally tidy every last bit of the outdoors.

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If you must be anal, you can always go inside and clean your house.
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As for those honeybees…seems we ought not to become amateur bee keepers as we risk doing more harm than good in spreading disease and parasites.
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In other words: leave beekeeping to the pros.
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And create friendly environments instead  for all those OTHER bees, i.e. leafcutters, bumblebees, sweaters and miners.

Bonus:  because the natural world is naturally diverse, to allow a bit of the ‘natural’ will result in fewer bad bug infestations.

DSC05899Also,

DSC05901
—when buying plants and seeds, check with the grower  or nursery about use of neonicotinoids. More and more growers are choosing not to use them, but only because more and more people are asking questions and raising a fuss.
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Ask questions.

Raise a fuss.
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The bees will thank you.
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And we’ll continue thanking the bees.
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As we should.

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Without them we’re pretty much landscaped toast.

 

here, and there

 
Walking in the woods isn’t quite the same as it was last week.
DSC05570DSC05553It’s hard to tromp about today and only marvel at the beauty and stillness and fresh earthy smells.
DSC05558The early flowers and birdsong. Tra la, tra la.
DSC05543DSC05586I heard a story on the radio this morning about a woman from Fort McMurray who lost her wedding dress in the fire.
DSC05559I thought how trite. A dress?  Why is this a story?

I made my breakfast as I listened. Eggs, toast, tea.
DSC05562The woman explained how friends had posted about the dress and people from all across the country offered her a replacement. How she chose one from Toronto, where she’s getting married tomorrow on the island.

There was nothing trite about her tone. She was a woman who’d left her home at a moment’s notice with cats and dog and rabbit and who somehow made her way to Toronto where she was now on the radio, stunned at the turn of events.
DSC05577And all she wants is what anyone would want… for things to be normal.

And that, I thought, is where the dress comes in.

Because our normals may be different things and we may not immediately recognize each other’s version, but I suspect the dress is hers and how brilliant that, in the face of everything else that is such madness, she’ll be able to get married in something that makes her feel that maybe not all is lost.

Even though she said she could just as easily wear a tee shirt and jeans.
DSC05563And so my walking is different these days because of how I’m thinking about those forests over there and these here, the same, yet not, and I’m thinking about nature, generally, how we’re nothing against it, and the nature of people too, the kindness of strangers and the need for anchors in our lives and how they’re so often what we least expect or even imagine.
DSC05571 DSC05572And I’m thinking about the woman and the thousands like her…

…here, and there. So many ‘theres’.

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So.

Happy wedding on Toronto’s Centre Island, stranger from Fort McMurray…

And welcome.

We’ll be raising a glass to you.

 

♥♥♥

Information on how to help residents of Fort McMurray (or receive help).

Donations made through the Red Cross are being matched dollar for dollar by the Federal Gov’t.

 

 

so the other day i had canada’s justice system explained to me

 

Still slightly gobsmacked after a conversation about our justice system with someone who knows how these things work, who is part of the system at a very high level (let’s call them Hank), during which conversation I was informed that the system is, in fact, designed to protect the accused… the onus being on the accuser to prove that a certain ‘thing’ occurred as alleged.

Okay…

I was also informed by Hank that, depending on which court the case is tried in (in this province that would be either the Superior Court of Justice or the Ontario Court of Justice), it’s up to the accused  as to whether or not they would *like* a jury. It’s also up to the accused as to whether or not they would *like* to take the stand. Or, I’m assuming, whether or not they’d like extra frothy froth on their latte.

The accuser (aka the alleged victim) has no such choice. Hmmm. So while they are repeatedly interrogated and grilled, dirty laundry hung out for all to see, the accused (aka the person who allegedly choked and punched them) is not asked a single question…. Have I got this right?

Hank nods. Yes indeedy, he says, repeating that it’s in order to protect the accused.  He goes on to say what a grand system it is too and if I’m ever accused of anything I’ll be darned pleased about it.

I’m sure I would be, I say, but something just doesn’t sit right. For example, it seems a tad unfair to the accuser (so often women it’s worth noting). Especially if the grilling gets into whacking territory.

Hank doesn’t comment on whacking. He winces instead. Then he explains (rather haughtily I think) that if we didn’t assume innocence for the accused until proven guilty, we’d be like Russia.

Or France, I add.

More wincing. (I’m pretty sure Hank is partial to French wine, croissants and the light in Provence.)

Or France, I say again…

Yes, yes. Or France. He admits that France (along with a number of other countries) subscribe to what is known as an Inquisitorial System, unlike Canada, which takes its model from the British Adversarial System, a system that allows the alleged aggressor to have frothy froth if they choose while the alleged choking victim who did some childish and stupid things in her past can just please sit there and explain why she can’t remember every detail of every day for the past fifteen years.

It’s called lying!  Hank says. He believes accusers whose can remember the choking but not the bikini are nothing but liars!!  He seems to enjoy the word,  insinuating the lying happens a lot. After all, he says, what’s to stop a woman saying whatever she wants?

Yeah, women get all the breaks, I say.

He doesn’t respond. And when I want to talk about the way trauma plays with memory Hank does not welcome this line of chat.

The worst thing he can think of happening, he tells me suddenly, is that an innocent person be found guilty. He says this with tremendous passion.

What about a guilty person who is found innocent? I ask. The question hangs in the air.

Finally, I mention the quite dandy idea of “a subset of judges with special training in the psychological dynamics of sexual assault” and while Hank agrees that it may not be an entirely bad thing he also says that it’s not entirely necessary. He also says Heather Mallick is crazy.

I disagree. Her piece last week is right on the money.

I ask Hank if it were his daughter that was in the accuser’s position, that is, a daughter who claims she was beaten and choked by a ‘date’, would he advise her to take the case to court?

He says he would not advise any such thing.

I regret not thinking at the time to ask him if it were his son who was in the accuser’s position, at the hands of, say a superior at work, a son who had been choked, threatened, punched. Would he advise his son to speak up or just put his tail between his legs and let it pass, keep going to work like a good boy. And if, after a dozen years when his son couldn’t keep it to himself any longer and spoke up for justice… but couldn’t remember every detail… couldn’t remember that, oh yeah, eleven years ago he accepted that invite to the boss’s backyard BBQ and even sent a thank you note…AFTER the (alleged) choking/punching incident… would you call your son a liar, Hank?

Would you??

And if you’d advise your son differently than your daughter… would you mind telling me why?

I’m curious. Plus, it’s not a small point. But even if the advice you were to give both your son and your daughter was the same, i.e. to let the accused (aka possibly known abusive person) go free and possibly do it again, and again… and again…  then would you mind telling me again about justice?

Because I think I missed something.

And you, Hank, you know about these things.

Oh, and, if anyone’s asking, I’ll have a little extra froth.

No one’s asking? Fine. Never mind….

scales