if you’ve been reading long enough you know that i have a huge pet peeve about plastic, particularly plastic that is used once and then thrown away. EVEN IF “recycled” it’s still a bane on our planet. i have supported the movement to ban plastic shopping bags everywhere, and KUDOS to Los Angeles for passing one this week!
don’t think plastic bags are a problem and the government is micromanaging? LOOK AT THIS PHOTO:
(#11 from the Big Picture/National Geographic Best of 2010 Photo contest).
i don’t think that dolphin is going out for groceries.Filed in environment, things you can do | Tagged with NaBloPoMo, plastic | Comment (0)
if you are reading this, please do me a favor and sign this petition supporting California Assembly Bill AB1998.
The average Californian uses an estimated 400 plastic bags per year for a total of 19 billion plastic bags per year statewide. The production of these single-use petroleum-based bags consumes millions of barrels of oil and the average use time of a plastic bag is a mere 12 minutes. After which, most are sent to the landfill. However, thousands of plastic bags find their way to our creeks, Bay and ocean where they entangle, suffocate and kill seals, birds, sea turtles and other marine life.
please click here to urge your rep to vote YES on AB1998 to protect our creeks, waterways, the beautiful California Coast and the world’s oceans. (yes, if you put in your real email, this may result in other emails in your inbox from Save the Bay. but don’t you want to save the bay??)Filed in environment, things you can do | Tagged with plastic | Comment (0)
my favorite environmental pet peeve, plastic, is soon to be up for vote in the CA Assembly.
i’ve written before about the plastic island floating out the pacific, because plastic never degrades and the ocean currents sort of wrangle it all into one place. it’s horrific. while i know that not everyone is in the habit of carrying a resusable bag with them (YET), i also find it horrifying that people in stores use plastic bags to carry out items that could easily be carried out by hand – like a single bottle of soda. i see it all the time. or that baggers automatically DOUBLE plastic bags and so you wind up with 8 of them, not 4. public service announcements about plastic being bad for the environment haven’t changed consumer or corporate behavior because there hasn’t been any 1st-person impact to most consumers that they are aware of.
not long ago a bill was passed that set up all kinds of rules about plastic bags (see “Existing Law” summary below), mostly that stores have to provide a way to recycle them, but that really hasn’t done enough. every time i go into a store, the bag recycling bin is completely overflowing. so most consumers take the bag, they use it, they throw it away. there really was no consumer impact, only impact on companies who now have to deal with overflowing bins of plastic in their stores.
so the next step is to create that 1st person impact by instituting a fee. you want a plastic bag for your pack of gum? ok. that’ll be $.25. it’s unfortunately true that sometimes the only way to change human behavior is to make them pay for it. Assembly Bill 68 establishes a $.25 fee for all plastic bags.
this isn’t that groundbreaking, and not some crazy scheme that California has come up with because of the budget crisis – although the revenue will help keep some agencies, like the Integrated Waste Management Board – afloat. Washington, DC placed a fee on them last month, and LA’s ban will go into effect next year if this bill fails. China and Bangladesh have already banned them (saving China an estimated 37 million barrels of oil per year!), and Ireland’s fee reduced use by 90%. For California – one of the most populated states in the US – to establish such a fee would only be logical.
Fellow Californians: Please send a message to our State Representatives asking them to support this legislation!
AB 68, the Single-Use Bag Reduction Act, is an important step to reduce plastic bag pollution in California and the Bay. It will help people make the switch to reusable bags and dramatically decrease consumption of plastic and paper single-use bags by charging a statewide fee for them, beginning in 2010. Revenue generated from the fee will be used for other trash reduction and litter prevention programs. Please support AB 68, a bill critical to achieving California’s goal of eliminating plastic marine debris.
introductory text of the bill below. note that people on public assistance are excused from paying the bag fee, so for those who fight this kind of use-tax because it “punishes the poor” have no ground. also, this bill sunsets in 2013, so it’s a trial. i’d prefer just an all out BAN on the damn things, like China has, but this is a step in the right direction.
(YES I AM A TOTAL ECO-WORRIER. this isn’t about “holier than thou”. this is about “holy shit, we’re screwed.”)
see The Bag vs. The Bay for lots of info on how plastic bags directly affect SF Bay.
btw: the 2nd most abundant ocean pollutant? cigarette butts. those aren’t biodegradable either, and fish and other sea animals eat them and die. :/
Continue reading »
i have known and spent a lot of time with someone for almost 9 years now who drinks at least 2 cups of coffee every day, and never, ever, brings a reusable cup. i have been using a resuable cup every day for the same amount of time. so: 9 years x 365 days x 2 cups = ~6,570 paper cups, with plastic lids, that he has disposed of, while i have used ~1.
this kind of thing drives me nuts. i mean, on a rare occasion, i will get a to-go cup, if i forgot mine, or i am wanting a beverage at unusual place and time and without container. but why does someone who HABITUALLY drinks coffee at the same time, from the same place, refuse to bring a cup? i even bought him one once. he never used it. i, on the otherhand, will often forgo getting a drink when i am thirsty because i don’t have a cup, or getting food to go when i am hungry because i don’t want to get the plastic forks/spoons/containers. it can wait.
people sometimes think i’m being really ridiculous about this. but i do, honestly, i do, think that every. single. thing. matters. but i find i am often alone in this, especially about the cups.
and so i was SO EXCITED when i recently watched this TED video, in which Chris Jordan uses statistics about disposable cups to try to visually show the impact of people not recognizing their individual actions as collectively consequential.
i really like this talk because he gets into exactly why i get so unnerved about things like disposable cups in a way i could never before articulate, and then makes a really beautiful point in the end about our culture and mindfulness.
watch it.. it’s only 11 minutes.
the thing about cups haunts me.
40 million paper cups. every. single. day. mostly for coffee.
410,000 every 15 minutes.
think about it. please. (also embedded below)Filed in culture and random linkage, environment, most linked/commented on | Tagged with plastic, TED | Comments (13)
i wanted to write that i would be less ranty in my blog this year, but i’m not sure i can keep that commitment.
everything you buy has a consequence: i’ve ranted about diamonds and roses before, but what about your iPod?Filed in environment | Tagged with plastic | Comment (0)
i’m excited to get a to-go ware bamboo utensil set to carry around in my purse, as while i try to keep at least a spoon in there for the occasions of eating food on the go, i admit i often forget to put it back in after washing. sure, keeping a ziplock bag with a regular metal fork and spoon in it functions just as well, and i generally like to avoid “eco-consumerism” (buying some new “eco” thing to replace something you already have, which generally defeats the purpose in terms of conservation), but these are things i would use a lot, and purchasing these sets also supports workers and humanitarian in other parts of the world. i’m going to get the black one (with the action pack, which is great because i’m always scrounging for food containers), the cover made by a women’s cooperative on the Thai-Burma border, a region suffering from ongoing war and strife that escalated last year. i also like the newsprint one, which supports CONSERVE, an NGO project in Delhi. “It is made entirely of recycled plastic! CONSERVE employs ragpickers to collect discarded plastic bags and repurposes them into incredible designs and products.”
btw, you don’t have to order them online and have them shipped, as they are sold at numerous retailers (including Whole Foods), including many near me in berkeley, so i’m also going to go support a local retailer to get mine.
i might also have to get myself a hand blown glass straw to put in my utensil set, as i always cringe when i find myself needing a plastic straw.
many thx to fake plastic fish for the links!Filed in environment, food, health & vegetarianism, things you can do | Tagged with plastic | Comments (4)
a most excellent blog post:
on coping mechanisms, routines, and things we do to fill what feel like “empty” spaces in our lives instead of just enjoying the empty space. why is it so hard for some of us to relax or be still? why do we fill our lives with chatter and objects and television and twitter and txts and drama and shopping and eating and drinking and smoking and seeking? what is it that we are trying to fill, avoid, or find? emptiness as a state of being isn’t necessarily negative, although most people interpret it that way. achieving emptiness is what meditation is all about – clearing your mind, just being. but for many people, “emptiness” feels like loneliness and isolation because of what the emptiness reminds us of: what’s missing.
her blog, Fake Plastic Fish, is generally focused on her mission to reduce the amount of plastic in her life, so while this particular post is a bit off-topic, it’s really not. to some extent, for some of us, focusing on those kinds of things is another way we fill the spaces in our lives, and while it seems like a good cause, if you become obsessive about it, as arduous points out in her recent post about compromise, whilst saving the planet/sitting on your moral high horse, you might be hurting your relationships, and so yes, extreme “environmentalism” can become just another crutch, another wall to put up around you. this is definitely something i have been struggling with.
i fill my spaces with a lot of things. blogging is one of them. i know this blog gets preachy at times, and i always have to reel myself back in after those stretches. i struggle with wondering why i can’t just be silent.Filed in blogging, environment | Tagged with plastic | Comment (0)
all this recent news that nalgene bottles might be leeching and not good for you is, well, not new. i mean jeez, i blogged about this in 2004. it’s sad that it’s taken the company this many years to do something when there were studies half a decade ago that said they weren’t as safe as they claimed to be.
that said, i just can’t stand drinking out of the metal ones and i’m still using my nalgene now and then when i need a portable water container, although i now mindfully avoid taking it everywhere with me like i used to, or drinking out of it all day at work. .
this earth day i am recommitting myself to my avoidance of plastics, especially non-recyclable plastics, and to also seeing what i can do to get other people to stop over-using it so much. i admit it’s difficult when you’re wanting to get food to go, or when you’re, you know, buying something, but i’ve become pretty good at just avoiding it whenever possible. resusable grocery bags, reusable coffee cups, a fork and spoon and tupperware container in my purse – a few little things and you can save a lot of landfill. it drives me crazy that i see people using the plastic to-go containers at the deli and salad bar at lunch time to walk 20 feet outside and sit and eat the salad, then throw it away when there are paper plates also available. i see this at the two places i eat lunch at most often and it just totally blows my mind, especially in places like berkeley where those same people then hop in their hybrids and drive away. one thing i’m going to do is send letters to the managers of these places and suggest they start offering ‘paper or plastic’ to their lunchtime customers. the one deli in particular that i eat at 2-3x a week just automatically puts your food into little plastic tubs unless you specifically ask for the paper boats. i bet if they just asked the customers and let them know there was an option, they’d use a lot less plastic tubs. that plastic island out in the ocean isn’t getting any smaller, folks.
this earth day, i hope everyone takes a moment to find a way to make even a small change that, over time, might mean big benefits, even if it’s just putting a fork in your bag so that the next time you grab food to go, that’s one less plastic fork.Filed in environment | Tagged with plastic | Comments (10)
San Francisco Magazine: Green with Worry: on the Bay Area’s rising neurosis around every little environmental impact, from food orthorexia to fear of plastic.
In a blink, Bay Area residents have gone from being the most eco-conscious in the nation to the most eco-neurotic. We fight with our spouses over plastic bottles, head to our therapists in tears over rising oceans, and swing uncomfortably between guilt and denial every time we pull out a credit card or jump in the car. So how do we save the world without driving ourselves (and everyone else) crazy?
these little things people are fretting over – plastic bags, recycling, lightbulbs, hybrid cars – only make up the smallest percentage of total real negative impacts on the environment/global warming, but they are the things people feel they have the most control over. industrial pollution – including agribusiness/food production – far outweighs the impact that any single family has, or even collectively. what is true is that consumer spending drives most of these businesses, so instead of fretting about the plastic bag, people should be more concerned about what they are or aren’t putting INTO the bag and where their money is going. what’s ironic is “eco”businesses marketing (greenwashing) the hell out of consumer goods, from bamboo clothing to recycled dinnerware, but really the only green thing to do is stop buying so much stuff.
the article has tips on practical things to do that make a difference, and about how to stop stressing so much over the small stuff.Filed in environment | Tagged with greenwashing, plastic | Comments (3)