I have it on good authority that some of the people who work at 60 Minutes read WalletPop. While granted, I'm not around to see this, I imagine probably first thing in the morning, Scott Pelley, Lesley Stahl, Bob Simon and the other correspondents are gathered around a PC in the office, shoving each other aside, trying to get the best view of what the latest post is. And I'm sure in the mix of this throng is Andy Rooney, peering through their shoulders and over their heads, jotting everything on WalletPop -- particularly my posts -- hoping to turn them into amusing closing segments for the show.
OK, I'm making a few (dozen) giant leaps of deluded logic, maybe the most ridiculous being that 60 Minutes would only have one PC monitor in their offices. But I did hear from one of the producers from 60 Minutes, who saw the post I wrote about their segment that aired last Sunday on e-waste, and, sure, someone may have sent my post to him, and so maybe even this producer doesn't read WalletPop regularly, but let me have my fun, okay?
He wrote me the following:
I'm the 60 Minutes producer who did the e-waste story you blogged about this week. Though you say we don't provide any alternatives for consumers who want to recycle responsibly, we do point out in our story that Jim Puckett's Basel Action Network maintains a program to vet ethical recyclers. Also, on the CBSNews.com page devoted to the story, we provide a link to that same program, known as E-Stewards.
S stands for Solly, as in Solly Granatstein, and he is right. If you go to the web page about the story and scroll down to about the middle of the page, on the left hand side, there is a sidebar with a link to Puckett's Basel Action Network. I don't feel bad for not picking up on that; I doubt most of the people watching the program went looking for a web site on the segment either. (That said, a sharp WalletPop reader on the first post did offer a link in the comments section which leads to the E-Stewards web page.)
But I'm not faulting 60 Minutes for not mentioning the web site in their segment, or making a bigger deal out of the fact that you could go to the Basel Action Network to find ethical recyclers. After all, you can only cram so much into 60 minutes of programming, or probably more like 42, with commercials, and Granatstein and Pelley's segment did exactly what it was supposed to: shine a bright spotlight on the fact that not everyone who says they recycle ethically, does. In the worst of cases, sometimes the PC you thought you were recycling safely is destined to burn in a pile of metal and plastic garbage in some Third World country or environment, where it can poison a lot of innocent villagers.
So, anyway, to recap: If you saw the 60 Minutes program and wonder who you can trust to recycle your computer parts safely and ethically, check out E-Stewards. Obviously if you use a recycler that isn't mentioned on E-Stewards.org, you shouldn't automatically assume that they're unethical; it's just that if they are on the E-Stewards web site, it's a safe bet that the company is recycling your PC correctly. And if you're interested in reading about the behind-the-scenes action that went into investigating this story in China, check out the additional story that Mr. Granatstein wrote about it on the CBS web site. It's a compelling read.
Geoff Williams is a freelance journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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