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toxic stuff

updated tue 31 dec 96



It's good to note that potters (who I have generally found to be earth loving
people) are concerned about toxic emissions and proper disposal of toxic wastes
.. Many communities have a facility for disposing of toxic wastes. In Indiana,
each district has its own plan. Ours has a toxic waste collection day, and
the stuff that is collected, I am told, goes to big plants where it is melted
into concrete, etc. I feel a little troubled by that, as this only concen-
trates the toxins. At some point they will leach out. They also get into the
air that way, and when we turn our problems over to others, we just send our
poisons to someone elses' back yard. The best solution is to eliminate the use
of extremely toxic materials. Some things are not so bad in small quantities,
but because there are lots of humans using lots of materials, it is easy to
quickly wind up with major problems. Mixing all the tail ends of glazes in one
batch and firing it to chop up for driveway filler is pretty much what the big
companies will do. As far as the EPA air quality rules go, its my feelings
that the rules aren't tight enough.Already we breathe unconscionable amounts
of terrible chemicals and particulates. But as long as we continue our love
affair with the automobile, the major air polluter, there is little hope that
things will get better. Industry continues to expand at alarming rates,
producing pollution along with a lot of junk our lives would be more blessed
without. While I think potters need to keep finding ways to do things better--
we all have to adjust to the demands of an overpopulated world, and just becaus
e grandpa walked to school ten miles every day doesn't mean that is right for
us today. Things change.--But remembering the old ways keeping the old skills
alive is also important. Humans need to take the elements and work with them.
Make new things. Create. Far better to make art, to employ ourselves in
making functional pieces that will be a joy to both the maker and the user, and
as Gary Snyder points out in his poem "The Firing", ..."speak to men and beasts
when Japanese and English are dead tongues." Maybe we as a species are finall
y called to figure out what is important to us. No easy answers. Only more
questions. Jeanne Melchior. (PS--only one student in a class today knew what
the holy grail was.Disheartening.)