Reader Busts Blockbuster for Some anti-Earth Earth Day Activities

We here at Riptide firmly believe we have the finest readers in all of South Florida. They're a lot like us, actually: loud, remarkably angry, hilarious, and stunningly handsome.

Case in point: a ready-to-publish article we received from a reader who had witnessed some bad-timing Earth Day plastic disposal going on behind a Blockbuster and did some investigating. The result is a pretty hilarious account that shows a fair amount of writing chops. Without further ado:

Blockbuster Busted

By Vince Casademont

I telephoned Mr. Jim Keyes CEO at Blockbuster Headquarters in Dallas Wednesday. What I witnessed that day outside one of their stores was occurring at 4,000 Blockbuster's around the country simultaneously. I had to know why.

After work that day I ran some errands, picked up groceries, dry-cleaning, stoppped at Blockbuster to return a DVD. Borrowing and renting are good things. Like a book from the public library, DVD's can be enjoyed ( or not) by others. It was April 22nd and mother earth had blessed Miami with one of those rare near zero-humidity free evenings with a clear cloudless deep blue sky. Aptly enough it was Earthday.

So I'm walking from the parking lot towards Blockbuster and exiting is a 20-something year old employee. Blue and gold uniform shirt with a nametag. I'll call him Bill.

Bill's got a hand truck with twin trash bins filled with DVD's, at least 250-300. He was on a clear path to the big green dumpster marked Waste Management at the edge of the parking lot.

As he passed I raised the DVD in greeting. "You throwing those out?" My tone feigned surprise as if to imply such a treasure trove would make my day. "Yeah," Bill said matter of factly. I turned and followed him.

"You know it's Earth day, right?" Over his shoulder, almost sheepishly, "Yeah" and I believe he was remorseful. I pressed for an explanation. "We're doing inventory, we only send back discs." Apparently recycling's too expensive; it's cheaper to haul them, dump them and burn new ones.

I watched for a minute as he threw handfuls into the dumpster. I thought of the millions of years they would sit in landfills until they would reunite with the earth in a useful way. I thought maybe if the board of directors, and shareholders knew about this, they'd do something to change the process. I decided to call headquarters.

First I telephoned Jim Keyes, Blockbuster CEO in Dallas for his reaction. Jim's personal assistant Loretta listened politely and recommended Karen Raskopf, SVP Corporate Communications and transferred me to her extension. Her PA apologized saying she was away from the office. I asked if she's connect me to Randy Hargrove, Sr. Director, Corporate Communications. He was in a meeting; I left a message with his PA and he returned my call within the hour.

"Hi Randy, thanks for the call back." I introduced myself, recounted what I had seen and heard. 'Is it true, it's too costly to recycle the DVD cases?"

Randy was helpful. "The cases, we call them Amaray's, it's an industry term." [Amaray is a DVD-case manufacturer.]

"Amaray's, okay, uh, how do you spell that? "

In their defense, he did say that since they no longer hand out the little carry-out plastic bags so they've reduced CO2 emissions by 73,000 tons since 2004 and recycling the plastic carpet equals saving 66,000 trees, and the new lighting saves the equivalent of 12,000 thermal degrees. Yadda yadda and and a lot of other good stuff.

He asked me for Bill's identity. No, I didn't give Bill up. He was only doing his job. You know how that works.

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