Valley News Forum for Oct. 28, 2023: Human recyclers just need more clarity

Published: 11-06-2023 4:30 PM

Human recyclers just need more clarity

In response to the “Automatic recycling studied” article in the Oct. 22 Valley News (Page B5), I have a few thoughts and I’m curious who else may have similar thoughts!

The comment “The reality is that humans just aren’t that good at deciding what’s truly recyclable and what isn’t, especially at places like UMass” really caught my attention. My family has tried very hard to be good recyclers, but this hasn’t been an easy task, mainly because of the numbers put on plastics along with confusing information on what has been acceptable or not.

Let’s start with the numbers on plastics, could they make the numbers any smaller? Sometimes, even on large items, they have extremely tiny little numbers that are very hard to see! Then some items with numbers that seem to be recyclable aren’t. Some No. 2’s are, but if they are hard plastic (like plastic buckets), most aren’t even though they have a No. 2 on them. Why couldn’t they have a different set of numbers that are reliable, like put a different number on No. 2 hard plastics so they go to a different stream, or a new number symbol that that item is not recyclable.

I’m not sure what happened to our plastic recycling system, years ago I thought there was a movement that all or most products would be made to be reusable, or recyclable. All plastics would have a recycling number on them, so they could be recycled. Even big car parts like their plastic bumpers have numbers on them, but I don’t know of any place that accepts them. It is still a mystery to me about black plastics and if they are recyclable or not. Most seem to have a No. 2 on them, but I’ve seen some info that they aren’t accepted because if they enter the stream with clear or white plastic, they change the color to a gray or black. Some plastic items don’t have any numbers yet they seem like other recyclable materials but with no number, who knows?

Reading this article which basically says (my words) that we humans aren’t smart enough to figure out recycling seems insulting, I feel we can be better plastic recyclers with much better and simpler information! We can do this!

If I had my way, the folks down in Washington would be working on topics like this to make them better for everyone, thus possibly simply helping to save our landfills, country, and planet!

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Dennis L. Brown

White River Junction

Upholding contractual terms and fostering professionalism in education

The recent arbitration concerning the employment status of the individual leading the STEM lab at Woodstock Union High School and Middle School (“Teachers win spat over lab position,” Oct. 22) emphasizes the importance of adhering to contractual agreements and maintaining professional standards within our educational institutions. The arbitrator’s decision to necessitate a school employee, not a contractor, to helm the lab is grounded in the existing contract between the school district and the teachers’ union.

The situation delineates the distinction between a contracted service provider and a certified educator embedded within the school’s ecosystem. It’s pivotal to note that alternative pathways are available for individuals like the NuVu fellow, Mr. Johnson, to attain a Vermont teachers license, as outlined on the Vermont Agency of Education’s webpage concerning the Peer Review Alternative Route to Licensure. This pathway ensures that educators possess a comprehensive understanding and the requisite skills to cater to the educational needs of our students effectively.

Furthermore, it’s within NuVu’s purview to mandate their fellows to undergo certification, thus aligning with the contractual requisites and professional standards expected within the educational sector. The arbitration outcome exemplifies contract adherence, fostering a conducive, professional, and effective learning environment.

The disparity in compensation between the NuVu fellow and the teachers highlights a broader issue. The union’s grievance sheds light on the indispensable role of certified educators and why they deserve a remuneration that reflects their invaluable contribution to nurturing the future leaders of our society.

Ms. Keri Bristow’s comments, as the former association president, were particularly disappointing. She and the district administration knew that the lab position violated the contract. They could have proactively worked with the union, NuVu, and the math and science fellow to bring the position into the contract and find a solution for certification. The blame lies directly on the district administration for not remedying this sooner.

Andrew Gamble

former president of the
Lebanon Education Association

Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands

Humane Society has lost its way

My dog died of old age. I love dogs. I naively thought that I could walk into the Upper Valley Humane Society and easily find another dog. I was wrong.

I dropped in there to have a look — I am interested in a mature dog because I am older and worried that a puppy might put me in the hospital (or worse). I walked in the door unannounced and briefly talked to the young lady working the desk. I assumed I would be greeted with enthusiasm since older animals are difficult to place. She was all business. She informed me that UVHS was by appointment only and I had to fill out the online forms and maybe then they could show me any animals that met my description if I otherwise qualified. I asked if I could just look at the dogs and maybe find one I liked, but I was informed that is verboten and is not the way they do things.

This is my third encounter with UVHS over 20 years and all were bad. For an organization in the business of finding homes for often unwanted and neglected animals, UVHS has lost its way. They are effectively discouraging adoption by making it as unpleasant, inconvenient and difficult as possible. God help the poor dogs and cats.

Timothy J. Quill


Kenyon column is offensive and misinformed

Jim Kenyon’s article in Sunday’s Valley News was misinformed. Anecdotes from one individual’s life are interesting, they can never encapsulate the entirety of complex issues. To uncritically accept one person’s view that Israel caused Hamas is irresponsible.

The history of this region is fraught with complication. Who are the “rightful” inhabitants? Where should we start? The Canaanites and Philistines? The biblical conquest, after the exodus? The Babylonian exile? The Greek conquest? The Roman sack of Jerusalem and worldwide displacement of the Jews? No easy answers here.

“Why are there not two states, Israel and Palestine, in the area?” This was what was proposed by the UN Partition plan of 1947. Were that plan adhered, to there would have been a Palestinian state and a Jewish one. The Palestinian state would have been the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Galilee bordering Lebanon, and connecters between them. Jerusalem, central to the three Abrahamic religions, was to be an internationally run entity.

Instead, multiple Arab armies invaded Israel. For a more balanced view of the history, The Economist published an excellent summary at

Hamas opposed the Oslo Accords, a set of painful negotiations designed to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, dismantled its settlements, withdrew its Army. There were elections in 2006 for leadership in Gaza. The residents had a choice of the Palestinian Authority, which had tried compromise, or Hamas, sworn to the death of the Jewish state. They chose Hamas.

No behavior of Israel justifies the deliberate slaughter of women, children and babies. And of course Israeli retaliation also kills innocents.

This is a complex set of issues bedeviling the world for some 75 years. Neither side is totally blameless. Maybe the mothers of both sides will finally have enough and jointly somehow create peace. Too much death, too much killing. Let’s all sides pray that it stops.”

Dr. Philip J. Kinsler


Quit your hating on hyphenating

Fully American? I think “Full of It” is more like it. (“Fully American,” Oct. 16)

Indeed, how could the writer generalize that an American citizen bearing a hyphenated name — i.e., African-American, Latino-American. etc. — is not as loyal as a non-hyphenated, “full” citizen like herself or me (Well, maybe not me. I grew up in Maine, and that may have left me a little funny in the head).

Of course, many of the “hyphenateds” share a background or affection for a place other than the USA. But that doesn’t make them less loyal or less effective American citizens than us non-hyphenateds. Rather than complain about them, we should revel in having them among us. They keep us on our toes and they enrich our fair nation in countless ways. How do I know this? Just ask my Swedish-American wife of 59 years. Her love for the country of her birth is still strong and sweet, but her allegiance to the USA is unshakable.

Neal Brown