"World turmoil felt at curbside: Low oil prices and falling demand from China rattle recycling industry." So read the headline and summary on a Sept. 20 story. I have no doubt that these facts have an effect, but when I look at the accompanying chart, I could not help seeing how the two lines, one for St. Paul and the other for Minneapolis, showed their respective earned revenue over the course of years almost consistently reacting in an opposing manner, suggesting that they are outcompeting each other. Henceforth, the businesses should, perhaps, think about merging.

Keith Krugerud, Brooklyn Park

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The article about recycling pointed to the major failure of the environmental sector. Most people have learned to recycle. It is now the norm, and those who don't recycle are seen as the oddballs, the ones doing something "wrong." Falling prices for recycling materials because there is a glut of them shows that we are getting good at recycling.

Where the failure lies is in the inability of the environmental community to get people to cut down on how much of everything we use and consume. It isn't entirely the fault of the environmentalists. We are a "throwaway" society, and we can now justify much of that attitude by simply saying, "But I recycle." If we would simply use less and reuse more, there would be less to recycle and less garbage overall. Past generations saw reuse and using less as values, while both are seen as a waste of our time today. More education and emphasis on reuse by the environmental community would help with the recycling issue.

But finding ways to use less and reuse more take time and effort. In other words, people have to care about our environmental future. We should see that future every time we look at our children and grandchildren. Teaching them values that will make their world a better, cleaner place should be ones we want them to learn. The adult generations today need to have those values in order to teach them to their children.

Mark Loahr, New Brighton

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The article indicated that "higher recycling goals have pushed facilities to process materials like milk cartons and juice boxes that have less resell value." While it doesn't say specifically what items allegedly have higher resell value, the fact is that food and beverage cartons are actually a valuable source of material and represent some of the cleanest and best long fiber currently in the residential recycling stream.

Paper mills in North America, even as close as Wisconsin, use this fiber from cartons to make paper products such as tissue, paper towels and writing paper. Additionally, some companies, such as one in Iowa, use all of the material from cartons to produce sustainable building materials such as wallboard, sheathing, ceiling tiles and backerboard.

Exporting is also a common option for all recyclable materials. Paper mills worldwide have been buying U.S. post-consumer cartons for decades.

Since there is a resale value and demand for cartons, including right here in North America, cartons should not be lumped with what Bill Keegan called "wish cycling." Carton recycling in the U.S. has seen tremendous growth. In 2009, only 18 percent of U.S. households had access to carton recycling. Now, more than 55 percent do. Residents living in Minneapolis and St. Paul can recycle cartons in their local programs. So can residents in many surrounding communities.

While the recycling process can often be confusing, the bottom-line message should be for residents to do their best to recycle all accepted materials in their local recycling program. This article creates confusion among residents and could give the false impression that carton recycling — and recycling in general — is not important and does not matter.

Jason Pelz, Milwaukee, Wis.

The writer is vice president of recycling projects for the Carton Council of North America.


What lesson is to be learned in a tale of two cities?

Wow! The city of Burnsville is arresting and jailing people over misdemeanors involving garbage cans and ladders ("Burnsville crackdown has some seeing red," Sept. 20), while the city of Minneapolis struggles with Wild West-type shootouts in the center of downtown. There seems to be an unbalanced approach to the allocation of public resources.

Most people want to live among neighbors who keep up their yards and abide by the laws; however, using overburdened courts to resolve such minor issues is not only silly but wasteful. Could it be that the crux of the matter is that it is dangerous to go after gangs and criminals and far easier to target poor and working-class people?

Linda Benzinger, Minneapolis


Wow. Spend $100 million on birds? Just … wow.

When reading the Sept. 15 article about Gov. Mark Dayton planning to spend $100 million dollars to increase the pheasant in Minnesota, I thought I'd seen a misprint.

I treasure our pheasants as much as most people, but that cost is beyond comprehension. Hopefully, our Legislature will settle upon a cost that is responsible.

Stuart Nolan, Bloomington

Columnist dismisses Sanders without seeming to know him

D.J. Tice (" 'Authenticity' and U.S. politics don't necessarily mix," Sept. 20) writes that Bernie Sanders would "bring even more chaos and paralysis than we've become accustomed to in recent years" but that Sanders "is the real thing for Americans on the left who are 'looking for someone to wreak havoc.' " After an exhaustive search of the Internet, I can find only one politician who stated Americans are "looking for someone to wreak havoc," and that politician is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who proudly pushed his victory over unions before ultimately ending his presidential candidacy last week.

Perhaps Tice should take a few minutes to read about Sanders, who has a decadeslong history of working in a bipartisan manner to get things done.

Pat Hall, Hudson, Wis.

Just remember, long-suffering fans: Your pain is another's gain

The Sept. 20 commentary "40 Years in the Wilderness," about the difficulties of being a fan of the Minnesota Vikings, reminded me of the time in 1975 when my wife and I were on our Christmas break and touring Southern California. We were aware that the Vikings were playing the Dallas Cowboys in a playoff game, but we didn't know the result. During that time we stopped to visit my grandparents in Duarte, Calif. When we walked into their dwelling and started visiting with them, we mentioned the game and my grandfather grinned and said, "There was this miracle pass … ." He didn't need to go further, because we knew instantly what he meant. You see, my grandfather was born and raised in Dallas.

John Moore, Eau Claire, Wis.

• • •

Our family has a saying that goes like this: "A child born into a family of Viking fans is a child born to a lifetime of woe."

Caroline Munoz, Austin, Minn.