By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Singing the recycling blues in Manteca: ‘The hip bone is connected to the thigh bone . . .’
pacheco wind
Windmills near Pacheco Pass aren’t necessarily embraced by all environmentalist, especially those that place a higher priority on raptors and birds or who lapse into being “situational environmentalists” when they will “visually pollute” a favorite view.

California is a hot mess when it comes to being green.

The reasons are many.

Solutions are sought in voids.

Rare are those that are passionate or committed to specific environmental causes able to grasp that almost always one  green goal can’t be accomplished without impacting in a negative way another green goal.

And if they don’t like a solution, they then hijack the concept of “environmental justice” to create another “environmental” concern to derail a green endeavor.

Wind power is a good example.

As demonstrated for decades by turbines near Altamont Pass it works and doesn’t create air pollution.

Those that lead the charge to protect raptors and other birds take a dim view of the electricity that wind turbines generate.

Although careful placement and technology have reduced the slice and dice slaughter, wind power still kills birds.

Those that place their highest personal priority on protecting birds often fight wind power projects.

If that wasn’t enough, “visual pollution” is edging its way more and more into efforts to block green projects such as wind farms.

The odd thing, of course, is among the ranks of wind farm opponents are those that are clearly environmentalists that may even embrace the electric vehicles to the point they believe they are the magic pill to save the planet.

And if we are going to eventually replace the 1.446 billion cars worldwide with EVs without burning more coal and other fossil fuels to generate electricity, we are going to need a lot more  wind farms and such to charge them as well as everything else we say we’re going to wean off of energy  that creates greenhouse emissions.

That includes nuclear power even though it doesn’t generate greenhouse gas.

The reason why, of course, is we seek solutions in silos.

There are those that are fervent in their conviction nuclear power’s potential environmental pitfalls aren’t worth the risk.

 In our struggle to “clean up the environment” we ignore the lessons around us that nature provides.

The environment is a balancing act.

And a central part of the act is death and destruction.

Black bears running down deer and slaughtering them for dinner.

Wildfires scaring the landscape in a cycle of “unclogging” ecological systems and rebirth.

An endless array of parasites  — insects, viruses , and such — that thin the forest by killing trees and thin  the herd by killing creates that rebirth.

It is in the DNA of most of us to want to right what we see as nature’s wrongs.

Combatting diseases that take young lives.

 Snuffing out all fires — including those nature starts on its own — to keep the landscape as we see it.

Plugging rivers to divert water to where we decide it is needed as opposed to nature’s plan.

None of this means we shouldn’t strive strenuously to make sure the Earth remains inhabitable for as long as the forces of nature  left on their own will allow it to be.

Nature will ultimately win, not mankind.

Meanwhile the challenge is not to soil the bed we sleep in.

As kids we take glee in singing the “hip bone is connected to the thigh bone” ditty.

As adults we fail to see that everything is interconnected.

In the coming months, the City of Manteca is going to be hitting all of us where it hurts — in the pocketbook.

And they will be doing so with proposed rate hikes for three municipal services that — reduced to their lowest common denominator — are really environmental services.

They are solid waste collection and disposal, the treatment of human waste whether it is the No. 1 or the No. 2, and safe and adequate water to sustain life.

We will squawk when we see the bottom line which may rival the accelerated upward protectory of the price of a dozen eggs over the next five or so years.

But before you go looking for a green friendly replacement of tar and feathers to storm city hall, consider a few things.

That garbage disposal that pulverizes food waste to send it into the wastewater treatment system has a big hidden cost.

Costly technology is needed to breakdown the foods waste sent down the drain. Wastewater treatment plants were originally designed to treat basically human waste and not serve as a more expensive replacement for composting.

Ditto for flushing “disposable” baby wipes down the toilet.

The reason we have the recycling blues — as in blue carts — where items many of us take care to separate are buried instead of recycled after they are transferred to solid waste trucks — can be traced back to the same disconnect.

Enough of us aren’t following the rules that there is a 68 percent contamination rate of recyclables the city collects by a truckload.

That doesn’t mean 68 percent of what is placed in carts is garbage as defined by the current rules of recycling.

It means enough non-recyclable items have been placed in carts that truckloads exceed an acceptable threshold for it to be cost efficient for the load to be recycled.

Making it worse, California makes the hurdle for manufacturing plants to clear that’s needed to recycle everything from plastics to paper to paper to build and operate here so high in terms of their environmental impacts, that the cost to recycle the Golden State’s own waste within its borders to the degree most of us expect it to be is beyond prohibitive.

We want to recycle but by not carving out an  exception in other environmental goals we doom the process.

Our addiction to non-native grasses that we even water during rain storms is more than just a waste of limited water supplies. It is a costly proposition.

The city at one point estimated 40 percent of all water use in consumed by what is mostly eye candy — lawns.

Given half of the city’s water use comes from underground sources, it takes a lot of PG&E juice to bring it to the surface.

There is also a need on a regular basis to replace parts of the elements that remove a host of items from ground water before it can be consumed.

If you reduce water use by 25 to 50 percent per capita as Las Vegas is on target to do by eliminating lawns, you reduce set expenses.

And it is those set costs connected with the treatment and delivery of water  that are driving the increase in municipal water bills and not usage per se.

Using my bill as an example, fixed costs are reflected in the base rate of $17.15 per month. My water consumption is $2.06 a month.

As you add more households to the system while cutting back iper casita consumption of expensive treated water, you are able to place downward pressure on future hikes in the basic rate.

We need to stop pulling the wool over our own eyes.

Just like the environment, our green solutions have to be interconnected.

This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at