Monday, June 25, 2007

Deplasticize Your Life

Greetings. I've had to take a hiatus from this blog due to a lot of demanding projects. I'm not sure how often I will be able to post for the next 6 months but I'll try to find something interesting at least once a month. The war against plastic bags has gotten to a whole new level in the last year and I just can't keep up with all the articles and activity. But this is a good thing!

Here's something from my favorite blogger, Sharon Astyk, on deplasticizing your life. I'm including more of the article than I usually do, and I really encourge you to go direct to her site and read the whole thing, plus her other posts. She and Miranda from Simple Living have got a really cool project going called "90% Emissions Reduction" or "The Riot for Austerity". You can read more about my participation in it on my Truffula Tuft Blog

If you didn't see the article on plastic oceans (the one with the horrible turtle pictures), you should definitely read it here - this is really important.

Because we all knew that plastic never breaks down entirely, but I don't think everyone realized that what happens is that plastic fragments and mixes in with your water, your soil, your food, and the food and water of plants and animals, and then it makes its way into our bodies. How is a really troubling and scary story. Definitely read the article.

Now this is stuff never, ever meant to be ingested - full of endocrine disrupters (messes with your hormones), carcinogens (warm plastic mixed with liquid creates dioxin among other things), traces benzene (liver cancer) and all sorts of things that no one ever meant for us to eat, breathe and bathe in. Now this plastic warms the planet a couple of times - when it is manufactured from oil, when it is recycled (if it is, most isn't - more on this in a minute), and when it goes into a landfill and helps mix with organic garbage to produce methane. And since cancer treatment isn't exactly low input, you could argue that it warms the planet again - when we have our surgeries and other treatments from the illnesses caused by becoming a plastic world.

The plastics industry has spent a long time convincing us that plastics are recyclable - they have those nice arrows, so they must be ok, right? But in fact only a few varieties of plastic are recyclable, plastic recycling is quite energy intensive, and after you recycle that plastic container into a bumper or recycled plastic lumber, that's it - next stop is the landfill or your water table.

So what do we do about this? The first thing is to buy no new plastic, or as little as humanly possible. Don't take that plastic bag at the grocery store - when you do so, you are saying "make another." Don't buy things packaged in plastic if you can avoid it - and tell your store manager "I'd really like to purchase that - but not with all that plastic packaging." Whenever possible, buy things with no or minimal packaging, or that uses recycled glass, metal or paper only. The only way to stop the plastic plague is stop making a market for it....

photo from The remains of adult albatross with a gut full of plastic

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Food Waste and Compostable Plastic Bags Go Together

Sounds like LA needs to beef up it's ability to compost food waste collection, in order to handle the type of compostable plastic bags that San Franscisco is now using:

April 10, 2007
Compostable bags no solution for L.A. area
The county and city lack the infrastructure to copy S.F.'s answer to plastic-sack pollution
By Charles Proctor, LA Times, Los Angeles, CA

San Francisco's landmark ban on common plastic shopping bags last month inspired pundits and politicians to predict that other cities would soon follow suit. But what worked there might prove tough to do in the Los Angeles area...

love this idea from Mark Murray:
"We're all for any community that wants to pursue a ban on plastic bags," said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, a nonprofit group based in Sacramento."But if I was going to Los Angeles or any other communities that are thinking they might take this approach, we would propose they look at a straight-out ban on plastic bags" — including compostable plastic bags, he said.

Six Month Pledge Campaign by Art Student

Had to include this one, it's about a plastic bag education campaign by Roman Jaster, a student at my alma mater:

Apr 30, 2007
CalArts Student Says No to Paper and Plastic

Banned in San Francisco and likely on the way out in LA, too, plastic bags have truly become an enemy of the state, at least in California. But paper's no angel, either; the only real solution is to get people to start bringing reusable bags themselves. One CalArts student staged an "ecological intervention" to confront shoppers with the concept...

Here's Roman's website documenting the project

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Modbury Joins the Club

English town bans plastic bags
AP, London, UK

A small town in southwest Britain is banning plastic bags in a bid to help the environment and cut waste — a move environmentalists believe is a first for Europe.
Shopkeepers in Modbury, population 1,500, agreed to stop giving out disposable plastic bags to customers on Saturday. They said paper sacks and cloth carrier bags would be offered instead...

Canada Moving Beyond the Bag

This is a summary of what's going on in Canada these days:

Apr 28 2007
Age of plastic belongs in the past
Mitch Wright, Nanaimo News Bulletin, Vancouver Island, Canada

Paper or plastic? How about neither!
Few shoppers still choose the once-ubiquitous brown paper grocery bags, opting instead to save a tree or two by choosing their now even more prevalent plastic counterparts. But there’s a growing movement afoot to outlaw the non-biodegradable polythylene bags...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Changing Face of Shopping Bags in Ethiopia

This is an opinion piece from Ethiopia on the potential ban there. The writer makes some good points, namely that there needs to be a public education campaign to accompany any ban. But the piece quotes a New Scientist article that I have a big problem with (couldn't find the original link): "As greenhouse gas emission rise to the top of the environment agenda, plastic begins to look even better, as anything that reduces total energy demands has to be progress." This is, once again, not seeing the forest for the trees.

Ethiopia: Outlawing Plastic Bags; Will That Take Shopping Backwards?

April 25, 2007
B. Mezgebu, The Daily Monitor via, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Before its collapse in Europe, socialism had made it almost fashionable and it must be said essential, for people in those countries to carry shopping bags wherever and whenever they went outside their homes. The logic being that someone might stumble on some critically scarce consumer good on their daily errands...

Bagging reusables in plastic

Time to go OFF autopilot here folks, if your goal is to actually make a difference that is. If it's more greenwash, then, I guess it makes sense:

April 25, 2007
Bags you win!
Lynn Morris, Dorset Echo, UK

SHOPPERS queued for hours to buy a designer shopping bag emblazoned with the words "I'm not a plastic bag". It was sold to them in - you guessed it - a plastic bag...
Here's another link about the story from New Scientist

photo: Matthew Waite and Ian Roe finally get their hands on a limited-edition Anya Hindmarch bag at Sainsbury, Castlepoint