Turns out the cold I thought I had is actually a mild case of pneumonia. Thanks very much to blogger Rejin Leys from Urban Botany who filled in for me tonight with a post about a crazy new plastic product being promoted by, of all organizations, PETA.
This week, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) held a contest and awarded 5 lucky winners each a package of 10 “vegan” wishbones, so they can fully participate in Thanksgiving Day festivities without having to touch “the awful real thing.”
Regular readers of FPF will immediately spot the problem with this, right? Fake Plastic Wishbones? As Beth and other anti-plastic pollution activists have pointed out so many times, the world is already drowning in useless plastic crap. Why do companies keep dreaming up and producing more? And most perplexingly, what is an animal rights advocacy organization doing marketing that plastic crap for the Lucky Break Wishbone Corporation?
Because isn’t that what a contest like this is all about? Ad agencies dream of finding high profile organizations that will promote all kinds of products to their members, listeners or followers. It is effective advertising, and its absolutely free. PETA even obligingly links to the company’s website, so that all the people who didn’t win, but who are now convinced that they need fake plastic wishbones to make their holiday experience more authentic (!) can click right over and order them online.
While this one contest represents a pretty trivial amount of plastic (50 wishbones plus 5 packages), it also represents a very simplistic approach to defending the rights of animals. By ignoring the pollution spewed by factories that make things like plastic wishbones, PETA is prioritizing the rights of livestock animals over the rights of animals in their natural habitats, that are harder to quantify and relate to. The plastics that end up in the ocean kill many animals and damage the habitats of more species than humans have yet encountered. The toxic soup that leaches out of plastic-filled landfills poisons groundwater and flows into waterways – killing more animals. When incinerated, plastics release poisonous gases into the air – killing more animals. Even recycling plastics creates toxic by-products.
Sometimes it is hard to see the connections between different issues. But this one should be easy: finding ways to protect the environment, such as reducing our use of useless plastic crap, is also a way to protect the rights and lives of animals.
And as Rejin suggested in her own blog entry on this topic, why do we need wishbones for making wishes in the first place? “How about creating a new tradition where everyone goes around the table and makes a wish? There, no dead turkeys and no plastic factories spewing hazardous wastes that kill other animals. Problem solved.”