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Let's Not Get Our Wristbands In Such A Wad

Environmental activists the world over are breathlessly indignant that the popular Rainbow Loom wristbands are neither degradable nor recyclable. But are they overreacting?

Rainbow Loom bands, a dangerous trend?
Rainbow Loom bands, a dangerous trend?
Felicitas Kock

MUNICH — Ever since family man David Beckham was spotted wearing a colorful plastic bracelet on his wrist, it's been clear that Rainbow Loom bands are this summer’s trend, with parents playing right along. These plastic rings are everywhere, and suddenly millions of children have discovered a love for crochet and creating rainbow-colored wristbands.

But what happens when the trend fades, as all inevitably do? Weaving those suckers will at some point go the way of MySpace, and all those discarded bracelets could make their way to landfills.

In fact, a group of British environmental protectionists is already looking at that future moment when the Rainbow Loom hype ends. The problem with these vibrantly colored accessories is that they are comprised mostly of silicon, which means not only that they will never decompose but also that they can't be recycled. The British press is comparing the issue to the controversy in 2011 when the Royal Mail began to use red rubber bands to bundle letters together into small packets. Those bands weren't recyclable either, which is why environmentally conscious Brits took to sending them back to the post office so they could be reused.

In the United States, there is now an online petition demanding that Loom bands be forbidden until they can be sustainably produced and recycled. The bands are also said to endanger any small domestic animals and wild animals that might eat them, although specific cases of injury have yet to be reported.

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Photo: Carrie A.

British newspaper Daily Mail, which characterized the bands as an "eco ticking timebomb," quoted the CEO of a recycling company promising to figure out a way to deal better with the bands should the craze for them turn out to be long-lasting.

But wait ...

Looking back may also prove helpful. In the 1990s, many small children wore bright pacifiers made of hard plastic around their necks. The trend not long after that was the use of a kind of adhesive putty in loud colors that left stains on the walls and furniture it touched. These products disappeared shortly after being put on the market, never to be seen or heard of again. So it might be worthwhile to wait for the Rainbow Loom hysteria to die down before spending too much time developing a unique recycling system for them.

Meanwhile, what about existing bracelets? There are plenty of objects in our world that won’t biodegrade. Maybe it’s not the worst thing if our descendants 500 years from now find a few wristbands in cheerful neon colors among all the non-decayed plastic bags and aluminium cans.

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Geopolitics

Capitol Riot, Brazil Style? The Specter Of Violence If Bolsonaro Loses The Presidency

Brazilian politics has a long history tainted with violence. As President Jair Bolsonaro threatens to not accept the results if he loses his reelection bid Sunday, the country could explode in ways similar to, or even worse, than the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol after Donald Trump refused to accept his defeat.

Supporters of Brazil presidential candidates Bolsonaro and Lula cross the streets of Brasilia with banners ahead of the first round of the elections on Oct. 2.

Angela Alonso

-Analysis-

SÂO PAULO — Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro delivered a message to his nation this year on the anniversary of its independence day, September 7. He recalled what he saw as the nation’s good times, and bad, and declared: “Now, 2022, history may repeat itself. Good has always triumphed over evil. We are here because we believe in our people and our people believe in God.”

It was a moment that’s typical of how this president seeks to challenge the democratic rules. Bolsonaro has been seen as part of a new populist global wave. Ahead of Sunday's first round of voting, the sitting president is trailing in the polls, and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva could even tally more than 50% to win the race outright and avoid an Oct. 30 runoff. Bolsonaro has said he might not accept the results of the race, which could spark violence from his supporters.

However, Brazil has a tradition of political violence. There is a national myth that the political elite prefer negotiation and avoid armed conflicts. Facts do not support the myth. If it did all major political change would have been peaceful: there would have been no independence war in 1822, no civil war in 1889 (when the republic replaced the monarchy) and, even the military coup, in 1964, would have been bloodless.

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