Environmentally Friendly Ammo

Lead is a useful metal. It’s also toxic. Lead poisoning is one of the oldest known industrial hazards — the ancient Romans, for example, were aware that lead, though handy, was hazardous to your health. In recent decades, lead poisoning is mostly associated with old paint, and in particular with children being exposed to it. But the phrase “lead poisoning” is also used as a cute term for being shot — most bullets, after all, are made of lead. Grim humour to be sure. But as it turns out, the lead in bullets really is a source of poisoning…but the problem here isn’t with the bullets that hit their mark; it’s with the ones that miss. Every shot that a hunter fires, for example, if it misses its mark, ends up as a pollutant, either lying in a lake or accidentally ingested by some animal.

The solution? See this story, from the Globe & Mail’s Report on Business: Banking on bullets for the granola set.

Stephen Leahy doesn’t want to take guns away – he just want to make their bullets greener.

The chairman and chief executive officer of North American Tungsten Corp. Ltd. hopes demand for the metal his company produces will increase as tungsten’s use as an environmentally friendly alternative to lead gains in popularity.

Tungsten can now be used as a non-toxic substitute for lead in fishing lures, wheel weights and protective X-ray vests.

But Mr. Leahy is most excited about the potential to use tungsten in bullets and buckshot.

A few months ago I asked:

if you think product X is unethical (or maybe just morally “problematic”), can you engage in a constructive discussion about how to make that product more acceptable (while still selling it) or how to sell it more ethically?

Seems to me here’s a good example where the answer is clearly “yes.” I think the world would be a much better place with way fewer guns in it. Fewer guns and fewer bullets. Well, guns & bullets aren’t going away. But if you’re going to make ’em, might as well make ’em green.

4 comments so far

  1. T. DeLene on

    The California condor is a great example of an imperiled species poisoned by ingesting lead shot. Scavengers that they are, Calif. condors were having to depend on chelation therapies to clean their blood, which was tainted with toxic lead from carcasses containing lead shot. California state game and fish adopted new regs last summer to require hunters to use “projectiles” free of lead in order to conserve the condors.

  2. Frank on

    I couldn’t disagree more. A fully armed society is a polite society.

  3. Chris MacDonald on

    Frank:That’s an unsupported empirical hypothesis.But more importantly, please stick to the topic at hand. i.e., the issue of business ethics in my blog entry.Thanks,Chris.

  4. Anonymous on

    Labeling a product as unethical reflects one’s personal moral values or the compliance to conventional rules. It might be subject to interpretation and ultimately would vary from one individial (or society)to another.One might consider the production of bullets ethical because it is designed to meet specific, arguably fundamental, human needs for security. But still regret the impact that poor use of weapons, or simple bad luck, would have on the environment.Therefore the controversial purpose of products like bullets should not exempt them from the constant pursue of greater value to its customers, the society they participate in and the environment.-Rogerio MarquesToronto, ON

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