In California, my home state and current place of residence, the Democrat super-majority in Sacramento is considering Assembly Bill 1952, which will require washing machines owned by the state (prisons, schools, etc.) to be equipped with a microfiber filter. If passed, we can expect these measures to be expanded to household laundry appliances. Introduced by Assembly Member Mark Stone (D - Monterey Bay), it really is an attempt to address an actual environmental and health issue, that of plastic microfibers from synthetic fabrics entering the environment.
Microplastics are a very serious concern that are being linked to a growing list of costly health problems, so much so that governments and international agencies are finally beginning to take action. Donald Trump signed far reaching ocean clean up legislation in 2018. Synthetic fibers in clothing and other fabric articles are a major source of these micro and nano particles. Recognizing that there is a problem, and taking measures to correct the problem, is sensible. However, putting filters on washing machines, in this case, is a lot like trying to stop the flooding from the broken water line in your basement by bailing frantically, instead of turning off the water.
Wouldn't it make much more sense to address the problem at the source? When the dangers of asbestos were recognized, we didn't start passing out respirators. We stopped using asbestos, and found safer replacements. Assemblymember Stone could have just as easily introduced a bill providing textile mills, importers, wholesalers, and retailers in the state with an assortment of positive incentives to move their inventory over to natural fibers such as hemp, wool, cotton, linen, etc., and help farmers to increase production to meet demand. So why didn't he?
I can think of a couple of reasons. First, there's the petro-chemical industry, which probably has about ten lobbyists and lawyers on the payroll for every politician in the country. Show me a politician who's willing to go against a large campaign donor, and I'll show you a soon to be retired politician. Such a bill would not be likely to make it out of committee. Look at how long it's taken to get hemp sort of re-legalized after special interests such as the agri-chem industry and Big Pharma went after it in the late 30's. That fight is still going on. Second, the life blood of the political class is pork projects. A mandated purchase means a whole new regulatory department, and another special interest industry full of companies with deep pockets competing for contracts and looking for favors.
So, instead of common sense solutions, we end up with a non-solution that will make the problem worse. The microfilters end up in the land fill, the microfibers still eventually end up in the environment with more being added every day, and we the little people end up paying for it. Senseless to us, but quite sensible for our self interested, supposedly elected officials.
Look at almost any issue we face today and you'll see the same pattern. Government has never fixed anything. Solutions have to come from us. Eliminate plastics from your life, as much as is practical. Support start ups that are producing alternatives, if you can. The only vote that counts is the one you cast with your wallet.
I am, and have always been, unafraid to voice my opinions. In fact I believe everyone needs to vent now and then, and we all have a God given right to do so. I despise willful ignorance and intellectual dishonesty, and take a perhaps perverse pleasure in puncturing the politically correct proclamations of those who have anointed themselves as our betters. I could be described as a contrarian and a bit of a curmudgeon, having now reached an age at which those labels no longer sound odd. Not everything I'll address here will be controversial. In fact, I would rather keep that sort of thing somewhat limited (and it should surprise no one that I probably won't succeed in doing so). We already have our fill of whining talking heads on the 'net. However, if you are easily offended or thin skinned, you might want to skip this blog. You have been warned.