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Issue Home October 4, 2005 Site Home

100 Years Ago
Along the Way...With P. Jay

From the Desk of the D.A.
The Healthy Geezer

Straight From Starrucca
Food For Thought

100 Years Ago

MONTROSE: Edward Taylor, of Forest Lake, narrowly escaped death in a runaway accident Tuesday afternoon. Mr. Taylor had just untied his horses from the railing on Public Ave. and in turning around the wagon was partially overturned. This trifling accident frightened the animals and as they plunged forward the driver was thrown in front of the wagon box, his body striking on the pole and whiffletrees. His position was an extremely perilous one. Unable to extricate himself and with the wagon being dragged along on its side at breakneck speed, the sight that presented itself to the many spectators was horrifying. To add to his danger one of the horses kicked furiously and the flying hoofs seemed as though at any moment they would implant a blow on the helpless man's skull. His lower limbs, however, received the brunt of the blows from the horse's heels. The animals ran into the railing near the drinking fountain and the man, horses and wagon were piled in a confused heap. The railing was torn out and adding to the noise of the impact was the sound of splintering wood and the thud of horses and wagon in a sickening crash. Those who ran to the spot found Mr. Taylor pale and shaking, but gritty as ever. His clothes were torn and face and body considerably bruised, but fortunately no bones broken. He was obliged to purchase a necessary article of clothing--a pair of trousers if you must know--in order to appear not like a hobo. He was evidently glad to get out of it at that price.

DIMOCK: The large horse barn on Dimock camp grounds was burned to the ground last week. Origin of the fire is unknown.

ARARAT: Hattie, the four-year-old daughter of Mr. & Mrs. John Keenan, was fatally burned while playing with a Jack-o-lantern. She, in company with several older girls, had been spending the early evening playing and amusing themselves. In some manner, while playing alone with the lantern, the others having tired of that form of amusement, the little girl ignited her clothing from the tiny candle. Dr. McNamara was hurriedly summoned from Thompson, and although he was able to alleviate her suffering to some extent, she died about one o'clock the following morning.

HOPBOTTOM: Bessie Tiffany has returned to Baltimore to resume her studies at the Woman's Medical college.

AUBURN TWP.: We are having tremendous weather these days. Mercury up to 120 in the sun every day, so now if you pass this way and find us comfortably seated in the shade, don't say or think for one minute that we don't like to work. AND: Prof. Frank Jones, the noted cattle inspector, passed through here on Saturday. Frank was well prepared for a long journey, as he had one horse attached to the buggy and another with harness on leading behind, I suppose, in all readiness to take the place of the other when overtaken by weariness.

FAIR HILL: About 40 relatives and friends assembled Saturday evening at the pleasant home of Mr. and Mrs. J. N. Andre. The visit was a surprise and a very enjoyable evening was the result. It being Mrs. Andre's birthday anniversary quite a number of articles, both useful and ornamental, were left in token of the high esteem in which Mrs. Andre is held.

UPSONVILLE: The 92nd Anniversary of the Presbyterian church was celebrated Sunday, Oct. 1, with a Harvest Service. The church was tastefully decorated with autumn leaves, fruit, etc. Rev. Church preached an excellent sermon from 1 Samuel 7:12. The music was in harmony with the service. The offering was $22.00

SPRINGVILLE: Springville souvenir post cards on sale in town. Springville is right in the fashion.

THOMPSON: Rumor has it that our townsman, G. F. Spencer, has purchased the grist mill and the milling business at Uniondale. AND: Will Kane, who has run the Baldwin-O'Brine-Durland milk station here for the past 5 years or more is moving to Brooklyn, N.Y., and will continue in the employ of the same company. "Billy" was a good, safe man to have around. We shall know later what is to be done with the station he leaves.

GLENWOOD: J. C. Lott lost a valuable cow last week by being shot. Some one in shooting squirrels or other small game mistook her for some kind of game and put a ball through her head. As it was a small ball it probably was done by boys. Mr. Lott is in search of the miscreants and if caught they will be punished according to their deserts. AND: If the party who carried off the wire stretcher of J. H. Hartley will return it no questions will be asked. If not, look out as the party is known.

HARFORD: Those who are interested in keeping tab on weather conditions will find the following, taken from the memoranda of the late Capt. Asahel Sweet, of Harford. "On the 6th day of June, A.D. 1816, there was a number of snow squalls. On the 7th day, in the morning, it was frozen so hard that plowed ground would almost bear a man to walk on, and also, on the morning of the 9th, the ground was white with frost, and also on the morning of the 10th." This is a record, we dare say, that even the "oldest resident" cannot remember having been surpassed.

GREAT BEND: The little daughter of Mr. Alexander was run over by a milk wagon early Saturday morning seriously injuring her head and leg.

FOREST CITY: The school statistics for the first month of the term show that there are 909 pupils attending the local public schools. Of this number 459 are girls and 450 are boys. The senior class contains 7 members and there are four post graduates.

SUSQUEHANNA: Frank E. Robbins, who was killed in the railroad disaster Sunday night near the Erie coal pockets, was born in Montrose in 1847. He left home when but 16 years of age to enter the army. A good horseman, he saw a great deal of exciting service as messenger and signalman, being regularly attached to the signal corps. Accompanying Gen. W. T. Sherman's army on its march to the sea, he elicited warm praise for his fearless obedience of orders in the discharge of his duty. His services on the Erie R.R. began in 1866 and he remained in their employ continuously for 39 years, an engineer for 35 years. During that time he never had an accident in front of a train. The end came quickly, through no fault of his own; he clung to the shattered 745, an engineer to the last.

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Along the Way...With P. Jay

Question of the week

Can the tax collectors in the Blue Ridge School District refuse to collect the school taxes because the Board of Education reduced their commission to a meager 60 cents per tax bill?

In talking with a number of attorneys, I have been advised that that was the plan of the School Board right along. Apparently the board wanted the district to collect its own taxes and the only way that could be done is if the tax collectors refused to collect the taxes.

I am also told it has been done in other school districts in the Commonwealth and that is where the Blue Ridge School Board got the idea in the first place.

Another Jim Dandy

Seems Jim Jennings of Brooklyn Township is always a man on a mission. Hope you folks out there appreciate his efforts as much as I do. Jim’s latest effort is to abolish the Occupation Tax that the county loses money on every year. He completed some interesting research and learned that the county can abolish the tax if it so desires.

For quite some time Jim has been advising the county commissioners that, because of the high commission paid to the tax collectors, more Occupation Tax money goes to the tax collectors than into the county coffers. So far, his eye-opening discovery has failed to motivate the commissioners.

The end of the cannon bawl?

Roberta Kelly, chair of the county Board of Commissioners, is content letting the existing members of the Memorial Committee follow through on the restoration of the Civil War Memorial in Montrose. From here, it appears to be a good choice.

Mrs. Kelly told me the remaining committee members can oversee the work and make certain the contractor lives up to his obligations. The other commissioners also appear to share Mrs. Kelly’s feelings on the issue.

“If Mr. Baker (Fred Baker II) and other veterans want to start a second project, I will be happy to name them to a committee and let them proceed,” Mrs. Kelly said.

Goodbye Charley

State Senator Charles D. Lemmond Jr. (R-20th District) has announced that he will not seek reelection when his current term expires at the end of next year.

While he will be missed, Sen. Lemmond is doing what so many other elected officials simply refuse to do – stepping down, not only to make room for someone with a new outlook and fresh ideas, but also to enjoy some well-deserved years of retirement with his family and friends. For this, he deserves four stars and our best wishes for a long and enjoyable future.

When he leaves office, the 76-year-old Republican will take with him a proud record of more than 20 years as a state senator representing a legislative district that incorporates all or portions of a half dozen Northeastern Pennsylvania counties. His constituents included city people, country folks, and transplants from neighboring states and foreign countries. Satisfying residents of the 20th District was not an easy assignment but Senator Lemmond did it and did it well. His years of service offer mute testimony to his success as a state senator.

Who will Senator Lemmond’s successor be? From some of our contacts, we got names of potential candidates, including Representative Sandra Major (R), who has been representing portions of Sullivan, Susquehanna and Wyoming counties in the General Assembly since 1994. But the name that has popped up more frequently than any other is Elisabeth J. Baker of Luzerne County who was Senator Lemmond’s executive assistant chief of staff for 10 years and also served as director of Gov. Tom Ridge’s Northeast office.

They want it all!

I am told that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints would like to acquire all the land in the SOLIDA Industrial Park. The church already owns a considerable amount of the park and plans on constructing a memorial on the site honoring Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church. Obtaining more land could allow the church to expand with the addition of a motel or hotel to accomodate visitors to the Joseph Smith Shrine.

When the memorial is completed, it will attract thousands of visitors annually and could become the biggest attraction for tourists in the county. And, of course more people means more spending and if there is one thing our county needs, it is a boost in the economy. Oakland Township officials should embrace the idea and bend over backward to assist the church in its efforts.

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From the Desk of the D.A.

I am not a scientist. I have been trained in other disciplines – history, government and law. With that caveat out of the way, I have followed the recent controversy concerning “intelligent design” with some fascination. Pennsylvania has become the “hub” of this controversy as a trial in federal court in Harrisburg centers around one school district’s reference to “intelligent design” in its science curriculum. To be truthful, I know very little about “intelligent design” theory, aside from the generic assertion that nature has been guided (or designed) by some outside (and intelligent) force that has assisted in the evolutionary process. Opponents of “intelligent design” contend that is a guise designed to teach the Old Testament’s view of creation – which, according to the critics, would violate certain constitutional prohibitions.

The Dover Area School District requires a science teacher, prior to teaching evolutionary principles, to read a brief statement suggesting that there are “gaps” in Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, that there are other theories to consider, and refers the students, if they desire more information, to a book relating to intelligent design. I would imagine that the entire reference to “intelligent design” takes approximately one minute of class time – but it is estimated that it will take five weeks in trial to determine whether that short statement violates the Constitution.

I will reiterate that I do not have any position on the theory of intelligent design, or evolution for that matter – I am not a scientist. On the other hand, after spending 13 years in the public education system, and an additional 7 years through college and law school, I have developed some strong opinions on what constitutes a good education. In order to be educated, you must be exposed to different views, theories and teachings. This is not to suggest that you will necessarily agree with the teachings – but the mere exposure to them assists in the education process.

In the disciplines that I have studies, the need for some basic understanding of religion is essential. One cannot truly study history without some type of knowledge of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the other major religions, and how those particular religions impacted and shaped history. Can children in public schools learn about the Crusades and the religious motivations to reclaim the Holy Land? What about the history of the Holy Roman Empire and its ties to the Church? Is it permissible to teach how Constantine converted to Christianity as a result of a vision from God that he contended led him to victory in battle? What about discussions of the abolitionists and their views that slavery violated God’s law? Will children still learn about the Great Awakenings in America that involved religious revival? Can we teach children that the Pilgrims came to America for religious freedom without explaining what the Pilgrims actually believed and how it came into conflict with the prevailing trends in Europe and Great Britain?

We would be doing a tremendous disservice to our children if the courts determined that any references to a theory with religious undertones violated certain constitutional prohibitions. In teaching American history, it is necessary for the students to have an understanding of natural rights theory because it had a tremendous impact upon the pre-revolutionary thinking in the colonies. The “problem” with natural rights theory is that it is premised upon the idea, as Thomas Jefferson penned in the Declaration of Independence, that “men were endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” Natural rights theory rests upon the very presumption of some “intelligent design” that included humans having certain natural rights that no government could take away without due process. The founders’ belief (or faith) in natural rights marched not only to the independence of this Nation, but inexorably toward the creation of the Bill of Rights to protect those sacred liberties.

So we have come full circle. The founders’ believed that the “Creator” had endowed us with certain inalienable rights – including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To protect future generations, these natural rights were embodied into the Constitution in the Bill of Rights – including religious freedom and the prohibition against a government imposed religion. Now, over two centuries later, a federal court will spend five weeks determining whether a brief reference to “intelligent design” in a science class violates the prohibitions of the First Amendment. If a science teacher cannot make reference to “intelligent design,” will it then follow that a history teacher cannot explain natural rights theory as contained in the Declaration of Independence? Absurd? Perhaps. Unconstitutional? I guess we will have to wait and see.

Please submit any questions, concerns, or comments to Susquehanna County District Attorney’s Office, P.O. Box 218, Montrose, Pennsylvania 18801.

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The Healthy Geezer

Q. How serious is a TIA? I heard that they’re really nothing to worry about.

TIA stands for “transient ischemic attack.” A TIA is an interruption in the flow of blood to a part of your brain. Its symptoms are the same as for a stroke. A TIA lasts anywhere from minutes to many hours. It goes away and leaves no apparent permanent effects.

And it is definitely something to worry about.

If you have a TIA, your chances of having a stroke are increased nine times. Treat a TIA like an early warning and get to your doctor immediately for a check-up.

A stroke, which is also called a “brain attack,” is caused by a blood problem in the brain. An “ischemic stroke” is caused by too little blood in the brain. An “hemorrhagic stroke” is caused by too much blood. About 80 percent of strokes are ischemic strokes; they occur when blood clots or other particles block arteries to your brain. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in your brain leaks or ruptures.

During a stroke, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and nutrients and begin to die. The earlier a stroke is treated, the better the results.

In the USA, stroke is the third-leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. It is the leading cause of adult disability. About 700,000 Americans have a stroke each year; about 160,000 of these people die.

The most common stroke symptoms include: sudden numbness, weakness, or paralysis of the face, arm or leg — usually on one side of the body; trouble talking or understanding; sudden blurred, double or decreased vision; dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; a sudden headache with a stiff neck, facial pain, pain between the eyes, vomiting or altered consciousness; confusion, or problems with memory, spatial orientation or perception.

The following can increase your risk of a stroke: a family history of stroke or TIA, aging, race (blacks are at greater risk), high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, cigarette smoking, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, previous stroke or TIA, heavy alcohol drinking and uncontrolled stress.

Your doctor has many diagnostic tools for stroke. Among these are: physical exam, blood tests, carotid ultrasonography to check the carotid arteries in your neck, arteriography to view arteries in your brain, a computerized tomography (CT) scan of the neck and brain, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain, among others.

Treatments are varied and include: therapy with clot-busting and clot-preventative drugs; carotid endarterectomy to remove plaques in the arteries; angioplasty to widen the inside of an artery leading to your brain, catheter embolectomy to remove clots, aneurysm clipping to clamp off a dilation in an artery to keep it from bursting, and aneurysm embolization to seal off a dilation through clotting.

If you have a question, please write to

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Straight From Starrucca

Gwen Johnson of Binghamton and her daughter, Sandra, aunt of Roger Glover, called on he and his wife, Barbara. Gwen grew up in Starrucca and even at 90 is a good source of valuable historic mementos related to the town.

Thirty-two persons enjoyed the music on Tuesday night last week, held in the Baptist Church social rooms. Keith Albee has a longtime acquaintance with Starrucca and usually grants us the favor of having him perform and give testimony with his accordion and his co-performer, Ron Smith with guitar.

Harriet Gardner came home last Friday after a stay at Barnes-Kasson and before that, at Marian Community in Carbondale, recuperating from a broken hip.

We were shocked to hear of the passing of Rev. John Grove, a former pastor of the Baptist Church.

My son, Nelson is now doing well after his operation for lung cancer, performed at Bassett Memorial Hospital in Cooperstown, NY.

Congratulations to Frank and Ruth Mroczka, who recently celebrated their 27th anniversary.

Gale Williams drove to Virginia Beach last weekend to visit friends and attend the wedding their son. She stayed from Friday to Wednesday.

Terry Anderson is now at home, being transferred from Barnes-Kasson Hospital.

It was a sad day, at least for me, when we had the last worship service in our Methodist Church last Sunday. Memories came bursting upon me as I sat in the pew. All my children (four) were baptized there. My youngest son exchanged vows of marriage at the altar. Services for my husband, Clyde were held at the church. I taught Sunday school for several years, was lay leader twice and a member for forty-seven years. So at my age (89), change is upsetting but luckily the church folks are very friendly and accepting at Thompson. My only solace is wrapping these memories around me like an old comforting quilt and go forward and make more.

Ruth Mroczka’s sister, Jane Jackson is visiting from Scottsdale, Arizona for a week. She will spend part time with their mother in Bethany, PA. Jane handles grants at the University of Arizona.


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Food For Thought

Magic. We are all looking for it in one way or another: magic relationships, magic child behavior techniques, magic home work relief. We also look for magic in our health and our health care.

There is one very simple thing that works like magic to help us improve our over all health and well-being. It has been proven to improve mood and relieve depression, with or without medically prescribed anti-depressants.

It has been proven to help relieve the symptoms of PMS and menstrual cramping.

It helps with hot-flashes and other menopausal symptoms.

It gives relief to arthritis and degenerative joint disease.

It stimulates the immune response and helps to fight off infections and improve our protection from disease causing organisms.

It aids in weight control.

It helps with strength and stability, especially as we age.

It benefits people of all ages with neurological disorders and degenerative diseases. In fact it is always prescribed, controlled and supervised in the treatment regimens of neurological disorders.

What is this magic elixir?

Physical activity. I will not use the hated “e” word, because that will give it a bad spin.

Physical activity has been researched and proven over and over to do all of these things and more.

If you have surgery, or a chronic illness or injury, your medical doctor will probably prescribe “physical therapy” for you. Physical therapy, physical activity, one and the same.

What is the number one cause of childhood and adult obesity in this country today: lack of physical activity.

And physical activity can be anything you enjoy doing. Just get up and get moving. Keep a journal, if you wish, of your moods and physical complaints or ailments, as you begin your physical activity. Then after a period of time, go back and review to prove to yourself how you have improved.

How do you get started? First, think of several things you enjoy doing, or would like to try doing, or have enjoyed doing in the past. Don‚t think about how well you can do them. There is no competition involved.

Walking, dancing, jogging, biking, skating, swimming, aerobics, pilates, martial arts, gymnastics, twirling, basketball, volleyball, baseball, football, soccer, tennis, racquetball, jump rope, pogo-sticks, hula-hoops, tag, hide-n-seek. You get the idea.

Now, pick a few and get started.

If you have arthritis, or joint problems, water activities are an excellent choice. Do you need to know how to swim? NO. Just put on a floatation device, and get into the water and start moving.

Do you need formal training for any of these? Not necessarily. If you like to dance, find a space in your house, put on some music and dance. Or get one of those mini-trampolines, called a rebounder, put on some music, and get moving.

If you find that you do better with a group activity, either organize something with some friends or neighbors, or look for an organized group that you can join.

Many of the popular activities are available on video, to be purchased or rented. Try out several until you find some that you enjoy.

I recommend having at least two activities that you can trade between, to prevent boredom. I also recommend an alternative indoor activity if the ones you choose are primarily outdoor and therefore weather dependent.

You could choose different seasonal activities. For example, you could choose kayaking or canoeing for the summer, and skiing or snow-boarding for the winter. (Fall, of course provides its own energy intensive activity of leaf raking.)

To begin, if you are unused to physical activity, start with a low intensity, for a short period of time. If you can perform it without difficulty, then add small amounts of time and or intensity every few days, until you reach a level that stimulates you. Notice, I said stimulates and not challenges. You are getting moving here, not going for Olympic Gold.

The idea is to improve your well-being, not injure yourself, so easy does it.

If you are completely sedentary, whether by choice or by necessity, you can begin by doing some chair activities, or lying down activities. And again, some water activities, with adequate supervision, would probably be very beneficial.

A few simple rules to follow:

1) Warm up: Always warm up before performing any activity that may become strenuous. You can do the same activity, slower and more gently. You can choose a similar activity that is less forceful, for example, walking around the block before dancing, jogging, or hill climbing hikes.

2) Stretch gently, between the warm up and the activity. Always warm up before you stretch. Just to the point of feeling warm. Not necessarily to the point of a sweat.

3) During the course of your activity, if it causes pain, stop. My motto is “If it hurts, don’t do it.” If your activity is causing you pain, you are either using too much force for your ability, or you are performing the activity incorrectly, or both. You may simply be fatigued, which will interfere with proper performance of the activity. In any case, stop. Re-evaluate the activity on another day, after you have rested. Or ask some one to help you evaluate it.

4) Stretch again when you have completed the activity. Gently stretch all of the body parts you used to perform the activity. Hold the stretch position gently for 30 sec. up to 2 minutes. This is part of the cool down and will help improve flexibility, balance and help to prevent muscle soreness. Stretch even if you think your activity was very gentle. Worked muscles need to be stretched. Even yoga routines stretch as they are ending.

Now that you have started moving, evaluate for yourself. Check your mood, your flexibility, your overall sense of well-being. If you have not improved, if you do not feel lighter and brighter, I'll eat my hat. I hope it is organic.

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Dear EarthTalk: Did global warming cause Hurricane Katrina or make its impact worse?

John O‚Dwyer, Hull, MA

No single storm or its intensity can be attributed to climate change alone, but scientists do believe that warmer ocean temperatures as a result of global warming may be intensifying the strength of hurricanes – and therefore could have contributed to Katrina‚s fury. The reason is that warmer ocean temperatures, like those that occur in the tropics between June and November, cause instability in the lower atmosphere, which, in turn, “fuels” developing hurricanes. Thus, if ocean temperatures rise a few extra degrees above normal, it follows that the ensuing hurricanes will gain added strength accordingly.

A recent study by climatologist Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) concluded that tropical storms and hurricanes in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans have increased in both duration and intensity by a whopping 50 percent since the 1970s. These increases have taken place over the same time period as average temperatures at the ocean’s surface, suggesting that this warming is responsible for the greater power of the storms.

Indeed, the hottest years in recorded history have been over just the last 15 years, and with worldwide industrial emissions of carbon dioxide at their highest levels ever, most scientists agree that human industrial activity is a significant culprit. Scientists have been predicting that worldwide sea level rises due to melting polar ice caps would bring about frequent flooding of low-lying areas as well as more frequent and intense hurricanes, among other weather irregularities. “My results suggest that future warming may lead to an upward trend in [hurricanes‚] destructive potential, and – taking into account an increasing coastal population – a substantial increase in hurricane-related losses in the 21st century,” says MIT’s Emanuel.

Beyond reigniting debate about global warming, Katrina’s impact is also highlighting the consequences of the rapid destruction of wetlands throughout the United States. Louisiana alone has lost more than a million acres of coastal wetlands since the 1940s, and some environmental leaders maintain that the installation of the levees surrounding New Orleans a half century ago led to the decay of nearby wetlands that historically served as buffers in protecting against flooding and other storm damage.

According to the environmental organization, Ducks Unlimited, which has pledged $15 million to help restore coastal wetlands in Louisiana damaged by Hurricane Katrina, as a general rule one mile of marsh can reduce a storm surge by about one foot. “Theoretically,” explains Tom Moorman, director of conservation planning for the group’s Southern Regional Office, “if you had a healthy chunk of marsh when Katrina hit, that could have mitigated some of the damage – the storm surge that hit the Gulf Coast reached some 29 feet, the highest ever recorded. But, in New Orleans, a few miles of marsh may have made a difference.”

CONTACTS: Kerry Emanuel, “Anthropogenic Effects on Tropical Cyclone Activity,” >; Ducks Unlimited,

Dear EarthTalk: Where can I recycle my plastic CD jewel cases?

Bianca Hoffman, Bridgeport, CT

Environmentalists have been worried about CD jewel case disposal ever since compact discs first became popular in the 1980s. Jewel cases are made out of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), a petrochemical-based plastic that is notoriously difficult to recycle and has been linked to elevated cancer rates among workers and neighbors where it is manufactured. Also, the lead often added to strengthen PVC can contaminate water, soil and air around PVC manufacturing sites.

Worse yet, because it contains a variety of additives and lacks a uniform composition, PVC is far less recyclable than other plastics. Its quality degrades after only two or three “cycles.” Recycling operations are burdened by having to carefully sort out PVC since it melts into corrosive gases at lower temperatures than other plastics, contaminating whole batches while ruining equipment and raising health concerns. Greenpeace has identified PVC as the least recycled of the six major common plastics used in consumer, household and construction projects. Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that less than one percent of total post-consumer PVC is recovered or reprocessed.

As a result, most municipal recycling centers do not accept PVC products, meaning that millions of CD jewel cases either take up room indefinitely in landfills, where they won't biodegrade, or are incinerated. And unfortunately the burning of PVCs creates airborne dioxins, some of the most toxic carcinogens known to man.

While options for recycling CD jewel cases and other PVC plastics are limited, the Sammamish, Washington-based GreenDisk company will take jewel cases and any other hard-to-recycle “technotrash” (such as defunct printer cartridges, cell phones, compact discs, videotapes and rechargeable batteries) for a fee of $5.95 for up to 20 pounds. GreenDisk then turns the resulting raw materials into GreenDisk-branded office supplies including, you guessed it, CD jewel cases containing at least 76 percent post-consumer waste content. The company makes it easy by charging just one flat fee that covers the collection box and its shipment to the GreenDisk processing facility.

Another way to make use of old jewel cases – as well as the compact discs within – would be for art’s sake. The website suggests reusing jewel cases for picture frames or to show off collections of miniature items (like coins, stamps, butterflies or dried flowers), or as necklace holders. Meanwhile, compact discs themselves, also hard to recycle, can be re-used as reflectors, drink coasters, large poker chips or game pieces, or other fun stuff.

CONTACTS: GreenDisk,;,; Greenpeace, “Why PVC is Bad News,”

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit it at:, or e-mail: Read past columns at:

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