We took the opportunity we had discussing french fries to look into the claims of a local fast food chain, Burgerville. We looked through Burgerville’s website and examined their claim to be local in more depth. First though, we had to define what we thought would even be considered local. We decided on a radius of about 200 miles, but then we had to think about how local the supplies for each of those companies needed to be in order to continue to live up to their claim of being local. After looking more closely at each of their food sources, we realized none of them were really all that local according to our standards. Burgerville, however, did not post their standards of what they consider local, so maybe they were within their own standards. Even though they aren’t as local as they may advertise, the fact that they put in an effort to cite where all of their food comes from is definitely commendable.
Our discussion of E-Waste was student led, as Jim had a pet emergency. We talked about the economic, ecological, social, and public health ramifications of e-waste. It’s an interesting object to discuss in our ever-technology-dependent world of new laptops, cameras, and phones every couple of years. Everything has been moving so quickly that there has been an unprecedented amount of waste as a result, but we don’t have anywhere to put it. Consequently, we have been shipping our waste to developing countries. This produces a negative externality on the production of electronics, where the cost of producing it doesn’t take into account the costly health impacts it has on people.
One thing I didn’t consider when thinking about E-Waste was any of the possible positive impacts. I always assumed it was a terrible thing with only negative consequences, but this class helped me realize that I have to drop all of my preconceived notions of things and take them for what they really are. E-Waste actually has a positive impact on many developing countries’ economies because citizens will go through the E-Waste and pick out valuable parts, many of which are important metals. This “recycling” of E-Wastes is actually also better for the environment, because they are sorted out better than other facilities would be able to. In this case, E-Waste became a commodity instead of an externality.
On Friday, we had a visit from the Environmental Theory class, who presented their projects and taught us about different environmental theories they had learned about over the course of the semester. It was interesting to talk to them in small groups and tell them about our situated projects, because they found all sorts of theory in our projects that we hadn’t planned or even realized.