I am grateful to readers Brett and Anne for reminding me how bottling and canning corporations promoted individual environmental action back in the 70s as a way to shirk their corporate responsibilities. Beverage industry interests told us all to clean up our own garbage through a front organization, Keep America Beautiful (KAB), so they wouldn’t have to.
“People start pollution, people can stop it,” said a KAB campaign, a worthy message except that it was also used as a way of taking attention off corporate responsibility for the promotion of the billions of single-serving beverage containers that litter our countryside and pile in our landfills. Indeed, KAB has been part of several beverage industry attempts to derail bottle bill legislation intended to get more containers recycled.
“Keep America Beautiful was founded in 1953 by group of businessmen from the beverage and packaging industries who were concerned that government would make them responsible for solving the litter problem by regulating their industries.”
The Container Recycling Institute says:
“The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Anheuser Busch, and their bottlers and distributers fight deposit laws at every turn. Retail grocers and liquor storeowners also oppose deposit laws, and in recent years, waste haulers and owners of materials recovery facilities who want the revenue from valuable aluminum cans have joined the opposition.
“They know that there is a cost to the disposal, recycling and cleanup of littered beverage bottles and cans, and they don't want to be saddled with it. They would rather have government and taxpayers pick up the tab…
…Enter Keep America Beautiful. Though their name paints a rosy picture of environmentalism, Keep America Beautiful (KAB) promotes landfilling and incineration of waste, and refuses to accept bottle bills as a viable method of litter reduction. Why? Because KAB was founded by the very industries that find bottle bills a threat!”
PS Please consider sponsoring my swim around the southern tip of Manhattan in support of two wonderful charities who work on environmental issues here in NYC, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice and the Manhattan Island Foundation. You can read more about my sponsored swim here. Or, to donate online, click here, then click “donate,” then scroll down to “support a swimmer” in the “donation is for” box, and type my name, Colin Beavan. To donate by mail, you can send a check to Manhattan Island Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 5533, New York, NY 10185 (and be sure to put my name “Colin Beavan” in the memo portion of the check).