Let's ban ticker tape parades!

sweeping up after parade
© Melissa Breyer

No, not really, they are a celebration of excellence and not that bad. And they are not even ticker tape.

In case you didn't know, the US women's soccer team won the World Cup. TreeHugger Melissa lives in New York City and told our water cooler crew, "I am going to sneak out to the ticker tape parade now. I cannot resist." I immediately wondered: ticker tape? Nobody has used that in decades.

Watch John Glenn's parade in 1962. You see long streams of paper, which is what came out of "the earliest digital electronic communications medium," invented in 1867 by Edward Calahan (NOT Thomas Edison) to transmit stock prices over telegraph lines. Nobody has used them since the sixties, although the scrolling electronic tickers still mimic them. So what do they use now? Fax paper?

Watch Melissa's video and it is instantly obvious: shredder detritus. It could be Donald Trump's tax returns, your mortgage loan agreement, who knows. Paper shredders have an interesting history; according to Wikipedia,

Adolf Ehinger's paper shredder, based on a hand-crank pasta maker, was manufactured in 1935 in Germany. Supposedly he needed to shred his anti-Nazi propaganda to avoid the inquiries of the authorities. Ehinger later marketed his shredders to government agencies and financial institutions converting from hand-crank to electric motor. Ehinger's company, EBA Maschinenfabrik, manufactured the first cross-cut paper shredders in 1959 and continues to do so to this day as EBA Krug & Priester GmbH & Co.

feet with shredding© Melissa Breyer

They became very popular in the '80s. "After Colonel Oliver North told Congress that he used a Schleicher cross-cut model to shred Iran-Contra documents, sales for that company increased nearly 20 percent in 1987."

Shredded paper is "recyclable", but the process shortens the paper fibres and reduces its value from high grade to mixed grade. A lot of recyclers don't like it because they are not certain what else might be mixed into it.

cleaning up after© Melissa Breyer

The stuff being swept up in New York has been mixed with a lot of stuff, and is most likely going to be hauled off to the dump rather than recycled.

Regular readers are going to assume that I am going to demand that we ban shredder parades, like I do fireworks displays. Not at all; this is a rare and wonderful event, and a bit of paper is probably a lot less damaging than all the chemicals and particulates and burns that come from fireworks. This is not about big bangs and flashes, but about a celebration of excellence. Go I say, go for it!

Now if you really want to ban something, try leaf blowers, a scourge of humanity.

Let's ban ticker tape parades!
No, not really, they are a celebration of excellence and not that bad. And they are not even ticker tape.

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