Lipton takes the plunge

Published 8:21 pm Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Whatever position one might have on the global warming debate, a few things are clear: There is only one Earth, we are stuck here, and we have a huge impact on our own environment. Given those facts, it behooves mankind to limit the damage he does to his home.

America’s culture of disposability is sadly apparent on a drive along nearly any road, where the detritus of modern life litters ditches, embankments and woods. We have fallen hard and fast since Henry David Thoreau wrote of the idyllic Walden Pond. Today’s Walden Ponds are becoming few and far between as development encroaches on more and more areas that were formerly wilderness. And arriving at some isolated place, today’s philosopher in search of pastoral beauty is likely to find that plastic shopping bags and fast-food wrappers have become part of the landscape.

The fact that so many folks have such a hard time getting their trash into a garbage can is a sad testament to the laziness and self-centeredness that are so prevalent in American culture today.

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That’s one reason why it’s so refreshing to see a major corporation and its employees take a stand to protect the environment and to do so without laws or regulations that force their sensitivity. Unilever’s Lipton Tea plant in Suffolk has set the bar high for corporate environmental responsibility with its new ‘zero landfill site” policy, under which employees and the company have pledged to dispose of all of their waste in ways that will keep it out of the landfill — and not by leaving it on the sides of the roads, like so many other litterbugs.

The Lipton plant is composting some of its waste, recycling what it can and sending the rest to a waste-to-energy plant in Portsmouth, where it can be burned to create electricity. The idea is to remove the burden that the plant puts on area landfills, thereby extending the lives of those landfills and postponing the need for others to be developed.

Employees and company officials have every right to be proud of the initiative and of the stewardship example they have set. Imagine what a wonderful world it could be if Lipton’s example turned into a trend.