Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

May 2010

It’s time to do a thing about carbon footprints. By a thing, of course, I mean write a column.

You probably caught this bit of news recently about how a university computing center reduced the use of ink toner by selecting sans serif typefaces. Serifs — those are the dangling little chad-like things on letters. Sans serif fonts don’t have little goobers hanging down on the sides of capital T. American Typewriter, my typeface of preference when working on my computer, has serifs; it’s okay because I seldom print my stuff out — I e-mail it and leave to others to print in serif or not.

Here’s a novel idea: plastic golf tees! Jeezum, that can’t be a good idea, can it? Currently you can get golf tees in various lengths and materials. The best I’ve encountered are from cornstarch, so if you bust it, just leave it to easily dissolve and not hurt the grass, the worms beneath the grass, the birds eating the worms, the cats eating the ... you get the idea. But a plastic golf tee will outlast most golf balls and quite a few golfers.

Of course, poorly made plastic golf tees break sometimes quicker than wood tees or cornstarch, so what little advantage they might have over fragile ones is poofed.

Easy to make the case that plastic golf tees are not green, as in environmentally friendly. But after the epiphany, what do I do with all the plastic tees I’ve got?

The solution: Since one of the worst things about broken plastic tees is their useless immortality, grind them up and use them as weed control.

So where would I get an idea like that? I wrote an earlier column about trying to explain a shortage of plastic pellets used to manufacture building products like gutters, shutters, and downspouts. I explained all the theories such as the difficulty of accurately taking inventory of pellets stored in silos, the importance of engineering specs for scrap factors, and the effect of extruding dies’ wear and tear.

Turned out, the little pellets worked real well as mulch in flower gardens — every bit as good as river rock but more uniform and whiter — which is why everyone from the delivery driver to third-shift lab techies scooped up the pellets until the pounds turned to tons. No one liked that column, so I sort of recycled it.