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Walking the Line: Contradictions, Diversity, and Integrity

L. A. is a city of contradictions. Anything goes, every opinion and every fashion. There is room for SUVs which seem more like trucks than cars and for little hybrids with environmentalists behind the wheel; for beach barbies, hippies, and old style ladies; for Frank Gery's Disney Concert Hall and for Richard Meier's Getty Center.

 Disney Concert Hall (Photo: Carol M. Highsmith)

Getty Center (Photo: Forrestn)

Diversity in all its forms is what I love about L.A. as a whole. And yet - on a smaller scale I do look for integrity, a trait I sorely missed during our recent visit to the California Science Center.

The museum features an educational and appealing exhibit on ecosystems which includes a section on garbage in L.A.* The exhibitors point out how avoiding the production of trash in the first place is the best thing we can do to begin to tackle the environmental problem. So far so good, but the Science Center also features a McDonald's outlet where, at least on the Sunday we visited, tables were piled high with burgers, fries, sodas, trash. Could there be other ways of feeding hungry guests? Where do the paper plates, bowls, and cups go? Maybe here?

Pile of trash in the California Science Center's rose garden

According to the Bureau of Sanitation's website the city of L.A. alone collects refuse, recyclables, yard trimmings, and bulky items from more than 750,000 homes. The garbage amounts to 6,652 tons per day. It does not include the trash of the many other cities which make up the Los Angeles metropolitan area of more than ten million people.


debi said…

An ironic situation indeed.

The piles of trash look very neat - maybe they are a temporary solution to full bins? If so, it does seem they could have found a better hiding place.

I think not only LA, but our nation as a whole has a tendency to claim certain lofty traits, but in everyday life, we usually practice something more mundane.

Back to the question of integrity - why boast of good intentions if one doesn't practice them?
Mark said…
Agree with Debi about claiming lofty traits, but not following through.

I'm guessing they justify having McDonalds there because it brings in the most revenue for the science center, which means they can afford more exhibits and marketing for the center. But the all those straws and containers seem so pointless. Unfortunately, even if the McDonalds' manager wanted to take the initiative to cut down the waste at the science center, McDonalds HQ would not allow it since the business has to be standardized. Haha, don't get me started on criticizing McDonalds...

On January 1st, Penang banned all plastic bags. There was a big uproar for the first few months, but everyone just got used to it and moved on to using cloth bags. Its made a big difference already.

Debi and Mark,

Thanks for your comments. Austria introduced a pay for plastic policy in the late 80s or early 90s and like in Penang people quickly got used to bringing their own bag. It's a small thing, yet easy to do. California needs to follow Penang's example.

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