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

Monday, April 23, 2007

Feminist Mormon Housewives use Reusables!

I had to post this one, from the Feminist Mormon Housewives Blog. Wow, who knew there was such a thing? They look like a cool bunch of ladies actually:

April 23, 2007
Paper or Plastic? Neither please
fMhLisa, Feminist Mormon Housewives

I’m sad to admit that my attempts at being eco-friendly are mostly a bit lame. I don’t shower in a pan, and reuse all my water ten times like some people. But I have been making an effort to take baby steps toward helping Mother Earth. (Where I grew up in Southern Utah “environmentalist” was a dirty word much more vile than “feminist”, so the path is a long one.)...

ADM and Bio-plastic

The label "Biodegradable" can be misleading. I must say that I am suspicious of anything ADM does. Even if they ARE plant based, these bags could create the same problems the much-touted ethanol "solution" will - using huge amounts of energy to farm the corn, plus the pesticide runoff and other pollution, and the insanity of using food to run cars or manufacture bags. We should be focusing on reducing our use:

ADM and Metabolix will make bio-plastic. What about Novamont's Mater-bi?
New Energy Watch

A press release today says Archer Daniels Midland and their partners, Metabolix, will be producing "a family of high-performance natural plastics that are biobased, sustainable, and completely biodegradable," to be called Mirel Natural Plastics...

Los Angeles Next?

Hey, maybe my hometown will jump on the bandwagon too!

L.A. County Supervisors Considers Options to Combat Plastic Bag Problems
Recycling Today Magazine

On April 10 the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors discussed the possible banning of plastic bags in the county. San Francisco recently passed legislation banning the bags, with New York State considering the move...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Leaf Rapids beats San Francisco

The little Canadian town of Leaf Rapids beat San Francisco to be the first town in North America to ban plastic bags:

Apr 2, 2007
Tiny Canadian town enacts ban on plastic bags
By Patricia Launt, Reuters, Toronto

A small Canadian town claimed the honor on Monday of being the first municipality in North America to ban retailers from using plastic bags, in an effort to maintain its pristine environment. The town's administrator said Leaf Rapids, a northern Manitoba mining town about 975 km (610 miles) northwest of Winnipeg, has ordered retailers to stop giving away or selling single-use plastic bags as of Monday. Stores that break the law face a C$1,000 ($865) fine....

Brooklyn Assembly Bill to Ban Introduced

April 21, 2007
Assemblyman: It’s time to bag the plastic
Gary Buiso, Courier Life, Brooklyn, NY

Assemblymember William Colton recently introduced a bill seeking to ban plastic grocery bags from large supermarkets statewide...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

God Forbid We "interrupt the checkout flow"

Elizabeth Royte, author of the newly published Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash makes some excellent points here - recycling the bags desn't really "close the loop"; feel-good, green-washed activities are not enough; and corporate profits are still trumping real change:

April 18, 2007
Elizabeth Royte, The Huffington Post

When I was asked to speak at something called BagFest at Indiana University South Bend, last week, I was initially skeptical. Why did we need a festival to collect bags for recycling, and what good did recycling them do, in the larger scheme of troubling environmental problems? But when I walked into the cafeteria and saw the ten-foot - and growing fast - mountain of plastic, I had a change of heart.

Santa Cruz Next?

It's so exciting how other cities have been inspired by San Francisco's bold move:

Non-biodegradable plastic bags could be banned in Santa Cruz
The Associated Press

SANTA CRUZ, Calif.- Plastic bags may soon be banned in Santa Cruz.
Taking a cue from neighboring San Francisco, the city is considering a ban on non-biodegradable plastic bags used by supermarkets and other retailers. The petroleum-based sacks have been blamed for littering streets and choking marine life...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Fewer Bags = Money Saving in Canada

Storeowner says ban will save him money:

April 18, 2007
Fewer grocery bags would mean big savings: storeowner
SHERRY MARTELL The News, Nova Scotia, Canada

A North Shore grocer wants more people to shop with reusable, environmentally friendly bags.Mike Belliveau, owner of Mike’s Foodland in Tatamagouche, said reducing disposable bag use would benefit both businesses and the environment.“We have a number of customers bringing their own bags here but we would like to see more, it would be a big benefit because we don’t want to be using them (disposable bags) either.”He said recycling is a struggle and his refuse disposal costs have increased to about $12,000 annually...

Berkeley Considers Ban

Berkeley may soon follow it's neighbor San Francisco:

April 18, 2007
Berkeley considers banning plastic grocery bags
By Kristin Bender, Oakland Tribune, Oakland, CA

BERKELEY — The question "paper or plastic?" may soon be a thing of the past in Berkeley.
The city that was the first in the state to ban Styrofoam coffee cups and takeout containers in businesses and the first in the nation to convert its entire fleet of diesel vehicles to biodiesel is considering banning plastic grocery bags.
On Tuesday, the item from Mayor Tom Bates will come before the City Council, which likely will ship it to the city's Zero Waste Commission for several months of study...

Sainsbury's One Day Ban

April 19, 2007
Sainbury's bans plastic carrier bags for a day
David Adam, environment correspondent The Guardian, UK

The supermarket giant Sainsbury's is to ban disposable plastic carrier bags - for a single day. Shoppers passing through the checkouts on Friday next week will instead be given 10p reusable bags for free, a move that Sainsbury's called a "revolution in supermarket shopping"...


I didn't get to post on this important vote last month because my blog was down. SF rocks!

March 27, 2007
SF supes vote to ban plastic bags in stores
San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 this afternoon to make the city the first in the nation to prohibit petroleum-based plastic checkout bags in large markets and pharmacies...

Rochester's Ban Bill

Rochester NY may follow San Frnacisco's lead in banning the bag:

March 30, 2007
State Senator Wants Plastic Bag Ban Channel 13, Rochester, NY

State Senator Jim Alesi (R-Perinton) is drafting a bill that would make drug and grocery stores cut their non-biodegradable plastic bag use in half by the end of 2010 and stop using them altogether by the end of 2012...

Plastic Bag Kites

This Japanese artist living in NYC makes interesting work from plastic trash - both bags and bottles:

Miwa Koizumi
Since I moved to NY four years ago, I have started to see garbage as small creatures. Everywhere I go they are waiting for me. I pass by and they want to talk with me.
I think this is based on an Asian mentality. ( also I use a lot of ephemeral materials to make a meaning for nothing) Especially in Japan, we have many spirits in our everyday life. Even if an object doesn't have a mind, its spirit affects me. This idea gives me a different point of view when observing things.

"PET" and "kite project

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Back at last! plus the Ditty Bops

HA! At last I have access to my blog again!

It's been almost 2 months. Big apologies to my readers. I got caught in Blogger's switch to a new version. Suddenly I couldn't get on through the old or the new portal, or whatever it's called.

Here's a sweet little ditty from my friends The Ditty Bops called
Paper or Plastic - the musical
Please sign their Plastic Reduction Petition and help stop the pollution and over-use of plastic bags.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Guns and Plastic

Rather chilling quote from an artist using plastic bags as a medium - he found a marked similarity between human beings and plastic - “Both are disposable in one hand and immortal on the other.”

Sculptures show opens at Rohtas Gallery
Daily Times, Lahore, Pakistan

An exhibition featuring images made from plastic bags began at the Rohtas Gallery here on Tuesday. The exhibition titled ‘I Love You’ displayed ...

Legacy of Plastic Trash

No matter how hard we try, in the end we may be remembered for nothing more than the plastic bags we leave behind:

Jan. 31, 2007
What's your legacy?
Comment is Free blog from the Guardian Unlimited

Cycling along the Regent's Canal through east London at the weekend, the scene was delightful - well, semi-delightful. The coots and moorhens, present in number, were bobbing and diving, looking almost joyful at the astonishing January warmth. They were bobbing and diving amidst plastic Lucozade bottles, Chinese take-away containers and the like, but they didn't seem to mind. ..

Grandmothers and Granddaughters

From an American living in Korea, she remembers her grandparents' deeply ingrained habits of conservation and searches for ways to reduce her own waste "Living in Korea has helped shaped my awareness of my wastes in small ways; living here has helped point my mind towards waste rather than just convenience."

January 31, 2007
Habits of Waste
Between pee and kimchee blog

When my grandmother stayed with us she used to drive my mom crazy. She had trouble with the stairs, so she'd sleep in the library on the ground floor, near the kitchen and powder room. In her obsession to conserve, she never closed the door when she went to the bathroom ...

Japanese Garden of Recycled Materials

Judith Selby Lang is an artist with a big, beautiful vision. She is creating "ReCycle Ryoan-ji", a 20' x 48' replica of Ryoan-ji Garden in Kyoto made entirely out of recycled materials as part of the 2007 Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival. It will be presented in the San Francisco Civic Center Plaza. Check out her blog about the process of creating this installation.

Crafty: Plastic Bag Bra

Don't know where you would wear this...

More Zero-waste in Toronto

Inspired by the Toronto couple Sarah McGaughey and Kyle Glover, this writer is going for zero waste too:

January 31, 2007
Trying to achieve zero-waste goal is hard work
Kris Scheuer, Toronto Town Crier Newspapers, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

What if the city's garbage trucks pulled up to our houses and found all the trash cans empty? ...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Pricey but Pretty Reusables

Designer reusables, if 150 £ is not too expensive for you, they sure are pretty:

24 January 2007
Style Bubble

Ok, I caused a bit of a palava with the Louis Vuitton laundry/market bagsthat has now prompted a wee trend of carrying the real deal on the streets(quite possibly the easiest and cheapest way to bring a catwalk item toreality)...

Reusable Campaign at Virgin Megastores

Virgin Megastores launches recyclable bags
Marketing Week

Virgin Megastores is introducing 100% recyclable carrier bags and haslaunched an in-store campaign encouraging customers to reuse existing bags. The company currently uses 16 million bags annually across its 120 stores but wants to cut its contribution to the 10,000 tonnes of plastic bags thrown away in the UK each year...

Fee per bag at Giant

Some first hand experience of using a fee per bag system, from a graduate student in Maryland:

January 22, 2007
Fun at Giant Foods

So I'm back at school, and I went to the Giant to pick up some food, to get ready for living on my own again. A few things struck me...

Bags into Gas

This sounds like a toxic mess and it doesn't say how much energy must be expended to get a liter of gasoline back out of the plastic bags, but at least it is moving toward closing the loop:

Gasoline from old plastic bags

A litre of gasoline can be obtained from a kilogram of old plastic sachets by appying a technology being developed by the specialists of the D.I. Mendeleev Russian Chemical-Engineering University. This is one of unique examples how the scientists can use a material initially made of petroleum to get if not oil per se again but the product of petroleum refining - engine fuel...

Time to Reduce Packaging

24 January 2007
Supermarkets told to come clean about packaging
Cahal Milmo and Andy McSmith

Pressure mounted yesterday on Britain's supermarkets and retailers to reduce packaging drastically as political support intensified for The Independent's anti-waste campaign. Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat leader, challenged leading stores to produce a detailed breakdown of how they contribute to the 4.6 million tonnes of household waste generated every year by packaging. Retailers are to be asked whether they would back a tax on plastic bags - similar to the one which has slashed carrier bag use in Ireland - and to reveal what proportion of their fresh produce is wrapped in plastic or placed on trays...

Another Opinion

This opinion piece argues that a plastax won't work for business, consumers or the environment. I have to say, it makes a good point about the increase in plastic use in Ireland, where, despite the fewer lightweight bags used since the plastax, there has been an increase in heavier bag use which use more resin. I have doubts about some of his statistics, and he doesn't take into account the CO2 emmisions and fossil fuel use of recycling vs. reusing. He puts a lot of faith in "take-back" (retailer based recycling) programs:

Jan 19, 2007
Taxing plastic shopping bags is not the answer
Serge Lavoie, Toronto Star, Toronto, Canada

Plastic shopping bags must not become the whipping boy for the garbage woesof the City of Toronto. In his drive to divert 70 per cent of Toronto'ssolid waste from landfill by 2010, the new chair of Toronto's public worksand infrastructure committee has declared war on plastic grocery bags. Hehas stated his intention to tax them out of existence.War it may be, but it's a phony war and the loser will be consumers,retailers, the City of Toronto and even the environment....

Close the Loop

Nicely put:

January 20, 2007
Green Dioxide blog

What are Apple, Big Bazaar, Motorola, Pepsi, Kellogg and Pizza Hut in the business of? Selling, among other things, computers, groceries, cellphones, beverages and pizzas respectively. What are they not in the business of? Selling waste...

Customer Reactions

Reusable bag company Spice Bags put this on their blog:

Jan. 19, 2007
IKEA Your consumer wants a resuable bag. Is she/he going to get it from you or from someone else?
Spice Bags Blog

IKEA announced it wouldn't give away free plastic bags and would charge fora sturdier reusable bag. How do you think their customers reacted? Here are some actual customer comments...

Trying for a Ban in Marin

Official to pitch plastic bag ban
Rob Rogers, Marin Independent Journal, Marin, CA

Hoping to stem the tide of a "plastic plague," Supervisor Charles McGlashansays he plans to propose a ban on plastic bags at grocery and drug stores inunincorporated Marin...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

It's not as simple as it seems

Continued from last 2 posts. Editorial from the Examiner:

Jan. 26, 2007
Fighting our way out of plastic bags

Plastic bags, ubiquitous plastic bags, unsightly plastic bags — everyone uses them and everyone has an opinion about them. It’s not surprising, then, that these symbols of consumerism have evolved into yet another political issue in The City, betokening the long if oversimplified war between the Board of Supervisors and the business community...

SF saga continued

Continued from last post. Now they are trying a new approach:

January 19, 2007
City seeks to require compostable grocery bags
Charlie Goodyear, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, CA

San Francisco officials said Thursday that they will pursue a new law requiring all grocery bags used in the city to be compostable after sparring with large supermarket chains over implementation of a voluntary reduction and recycling effort...

This AP story appeared from San Jose to London:

January 19, 2007
SF grocers say they used 7.6M fewer plastic bags in '06
Associated Press, San Francisco, CA

Grocery stores that participated in a citywide plan to reduce the use of plastic bags handed out 7.6 million fewer sacks to shoppers in 2006 than the year before, an industry trade group said...

SF struggles to deal with it's bags

A plastic bag saga: San Francisco city officials vs. the big supermarkets:

January 20, 2007
3 grocery chains give plastic-bags data
Charlie Goodyear

Three supermarket chains that operate in San Francisco met a Friday deadline to provide statistics on the number of plastic bags handed out to shoppers last year, city officials said...

January 24, 2007
Bill introduced to punish grocers for bags
Joshua Sabatini

After failing to adhere to a voluntary agreement to reduce plastic bag usage, large grocery stores in San Francisco may soon be required by law to use only environmentally friendly check-out bags...

Plastic Free Year in Vancouver

This lady rocks! She is making 2007 a plastic free zone - not buying products that contain or are packaged in plastic. Sounds simple? What about toothpaste (the cap), toilet paper (wrapped in plastic), the morning paper (rainy day protection)... She's blogging about her adventures in the no-plastic zone:

January 31, 2007
Progress Report
Plastic Free, Vancouver, Canada

I’ve finished my first month living plastic free in 2007. Wow, what a difference a New Year's resolution can make. Check out this picture of my plastic shrine...

Artists want photos of bags

These Chicago based artists are soliciting photos of your plastic bag collections. Before you crochet them into hammocks or wrap your leftovers with them (because your not going to throw them away right?!), take a picture and send it to these guys. They will do something interesting with it I'm sure:

Feb. 1, 2007

For the past few months we have been re-using plastic shopping bags in a variety of ways for upcoming projects in Chicago and Zagreb. The enormous waste created by these bags is a global phenomena with impact everywhere. Most people wind up with more of these bags than they can ever re-use....

Bring your own bag to the Student Co-op

A student at Swarthmore passes on a lesson from down under:

Feb. 1, 2007
Recycle bags
Marshall Morales, The Phoenix, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA, US

Throughout Australia and New Zealand, I noticed a simple and powerful change for green living. Environmental action groups have worked with supermarkets and other stores to charge for the normally free plastic bags used to carry purchases...

Plastic Bag Free Month in York

Caroline Lewis, owner of The Good Food Shop, in York, has declared February "Plastic Bag Free Month":

Feb. 1, 2007
Owner claims bagging rights
The Press, York, UK

MORE than 100,000 tonnes of plastic bags are thrown away every year in the UK, taking up to 500 years to break down in landfill sites. That shocking statistic has inspired one York shop owner to take action...

O'Mama says "Pick up that mess!"

The crunchy mamas are getting the word out:

Reusable Bags Tackle Plastic Bag Mess
Vincent Cobb, O'Mama Report

Introduced merely 25 years ago, plastic bags are accumulating in our environment at an alarming rate. They're everywhere: strewn along roadways, stuck in trees, and piled up beneath our kitchen sinks. New, eco-conscious businesses are helping battle this growing problem by raising awareness and offering effective, affordable, high-quality products that help reduce plastic bag consumption...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pakistan EPA says situation is grim

January 22, 2007
Polythene bags an imminent threat to environment
Daily Times, Islamabad, Pakistan

Hanging from branches, flying in the air, stuck in corners and racing along vehicles, polythene bags can be seen everywhere nowadays. Thousands of plastic bags are thrown away everyday, which results in choked drains, bacterial germinations, water borne diseases and the spread of mosquitoes...

Toronto debating ban

January 18, 2007
Should plastic bags be sacked?
John Spears, Jim Byers, Toronto Star, Toronto

Toronto councillors appear split on the idea of banning plastic shopping bags as a way of cutting down on the city's garbage. But they're all in favour of having them recycled...

San Francisco Supermarket Agreement Failing

January 18, 2007
Deal to reduce plastic bag use hits the skids
Charlie Goodyear, San Francisco Chronicle

Large supermarket chains that agreed in 2005 to help reduce the number of plastic grocery bags in use in San Francisco have refused to release the number of bags they distributed last year, breaking a deal they made with the city...

Illinois Recycling Bill 259

Law would force retailers to recycle plastic bags
Blackwell Thomas, Bloomington Pantagraph, Bloomington, IL

The sight of a plastic bag dancing gently in the breeze might have provided inspiration for the Oscar winning movie “American Beauty,” but one lawmaker does not see any romance in the image.

Santa Cruz Reusables

An activist from Santa Cruz is working on promoting reusables - specifically those great little Chico Bags:

A New Year . . . .
The Breeze from San Juan Blog

I am taking on addressing disposable bags this year. I think there is an opportunity to create a conscious moment when we are offered that bag when we shop.

Aussie Green Party on Levy

16 January 2007
Government plays catch up on plastic bags
Larissa Waters, Queensland, Australia

The Greens welcomed today’s national release of a Regulatory Impact Statement on options to reduce plastic shopping bags, an issue which the Greens have been campaigning on for years.

Somaliland flowers

I was struck by this photo from Somalia. This is a blog from an Italian woman working for an NGO in Somalia:

January 16, 2007
Somali Prayer Flags?

Johanna Dellantonio

Today, on my way to a local NGO, I noticed thousands of plastic bags caught up in a fence. Management of solid waste is a growing problem in Somaliland, and it is not the first time that my eyes catch pictures of colored plastic bags lying or flying around...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Living Garbage Free

I posted a story about this couple last week. They are endeavoring to live completely garbage-free in Toronto. This is their blog so you can follow their inspiring story directly:

January 22nd, 2007
Grey Areas
No More Garbage Blog

We’re in Montreal!!! Our hosts (friends) are doing so much to ensure that we can do no garbage at their house. It’s very sweet. I feel like the most difficult house guest in the world. We will take compost home with us, unless we can find someone in Montreal who has a backyard composter. If you live in Montreal and have one, please contact me!...

New Law Implemented in Ventura

California Retailers are starting new recycling plastic bag programs, thanks to new law:

January 14, 2007
Recycling plastic bags will get easier
By David Goldstein, Ventura County Star, Ventura, CA

The paper vs. plastic debate gets a lot of attention because there are good points on each side. At grocery store checkout stands, shoppers have to make a split-second decision, and many wonder about things like which type of bag is best for reuse at home, which requires more resources to manufacture, or which can safely hold more groceries...

Skiers and Global Warming

Skier Sheila Kealy writes from an athlete's point of view about personal actions, including various ways to limit waste:

January 14, 2007
Can your eating habits affect global warming?
By Sheila Kealey, Sheila's Nutrition Digest, Ottowa, Canada

The weather this winter has heightened our awareness about global warming. With little snow, compromised recreation and training, and the cancellation of many World Cup cross country and downhill events, winter athletes are taking notice, worried about their sport and the future of our environment...

Plastic Trash in La Ceiba, Honduras

January 13, 2007
More Americanization of Honduras
La Gringa Blogicito, La Ceiba, Honduras
I've written a lot about plastic bags in Honduras. I have never seen so many plastic bags anywhere in all my life.While plastic bags do take up less space in the landfill than most other kinds of containers, a whole lot of them end up in the streets, sewers, rivers and ocean instead...

More from Canada

January 12, 2007
Toronto councillor wants to eliminate plastic bags
Jamie Pulfer, 680 All News Radio, Toronto, Canada

The plastic grocery bag may soon soon be on Toronto's endangered list.
Currently we use on average four bags a week in Ontario, which means that 2.5 billion bags end up in the trash every year...

Jan 13, 2007
Tax On Plastic Bags called for by City of Toronto Councillor
Digital Journal, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

A City of Toronto Councillor wants to follow in the steps of Countries or Cities such as Australia, Bangladesh, Botswana, Eritrea, Ireland, Italy, Paris, Mumbai, India, South Africa,Taiwan, Tanzania where they have either banned the bags or instituted taxes on them, use has fallen from 69-90 percent...

Call for Levy in Toronto City Council

January 12, 2007
City Councillor Calls For Tax On Plastic Bags
City News, Toronto, Canada

Some use them to tote their groceries, their lunch, or to line kitchen garbage bins and our dependence on plastic bags has prompted one city councillor to call for a levy on the disposable items...

Canadian Quits Plastic Bags

A Toronto blogger shares his story about quitting plastic bags:

January 12, 2007
City Waste: Papa's Got a Brand New Bag
Kevin in City, Fresh Daily Blog, Toronto, Canada

The Toronto Star is reporting today about the City's plan to divert 70% of household waste from the dump by 2010. According to the article, 2.5 billion plastic grocery bags are consumed in the province each year, at a rate of 4 bags per person per week. They can't be recycled right now, and even though there are plans to introduce plastic bag recycling next year, there are no solid plans in place. When I moved into my current apartment, I quickly accumulated a hoard of plastic bags from buying groceries and housewares. It got to the point where I was trying to find bigger bags to put all the smaller bags in...

Japan Charging for Bags

January 11, 2007
Aeon to charge for shopping bags
Japan Today, Tokyo

Aeon Co, a nationwide supermarket chain operator, plans to begin charging for plastic shopping bags at all of its outlets in the near future in a bid to contribute to environmental protection, company officials said Wednesday...

Eco-Stylish Reusables

January 10, 2007
Grocery stores flaunt eco-style
By Jenifer Gee, Amador Ledger Dispatch, Jackson CA

While you may not see them on the arms of models strutting the runways in Paris, environmentally-friendly grocery bags are becoming more of a must-have accessory for eco-conscious county residents...

Women's Group Honored for Recycling in Swaziland

‘Umtamo wabomake’ a Swaziland women's organisation that picks up plastic bags and other trash and recycles/sells it, has won some awards:

Arrest those who litter says Lutfo
By Cassandra Shaw, The Swazi Observer, Mbabane, Swaziland

MINISTER of Enterprise and Employment Lutfo Dlamini has stated that there is a need for government to come up with a law that will ensure that anyone caught littering is arrested. The minister said littering was a bad habit and harmful to the environment.
He was speaking during the official closing of a workshop convened by the Municipal Council of Mbabane for ‘Umtamo wabomake’ organisation held at Thokoza Church Centre last Friday...

CRAFTY: Great bags knitted from bags in France

January 15, 2007
Maya of Saya blog, Antibes, France

As a person who's trying to act on what she believes in, I try to find a solution to this plastic problem by bringing my own shopping bag and saying NO to another plastic bag as often as I can. Also those plastic I had collected since I've been here (2yrs), I use and cut them up to make a bag by knitting them...

2 other projects:

A Different Opinion on Australian Ban

This Australian has a different opinion about the possible ban:

January 8th, 2007
In defence of the plastic bag
HeathG, Catallaxy blog

Today I’d like to talk about my good friend the plastic shopping bag, or PSB. When it comes to achieving its designated purpose of providing a convenient and cheap means of carrying home one’s shopping, the PSB is a hands down winner. But the PSB’s usefulness doesn’t stop when you unload your groceries...

Plastic Bags Seized in India

8 Jan, 2007
Drive against plastic bags results in seizures
Times of India, Rajkot, India, RAJKOT

As part of its cleanliness and environment awareness drive, officials of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation seized 20 kg of prohibited polyethylene bags from four different vegetable markets of the city. The official also fined a hospital for dumping medical waste in a public dustbin. According to an RMC notification, inferior quality polyethylene bags below 20 micron thickness are not allowed to be used with within city limits, but vegetable vendors frequently use them and pollute the city.

No Plastic Bag Day

January 08, 2007

Super Recycler Margaret from Newcastle

This lady rocks!

Jan 3, 2007
Margaret's recycling is plastic fantastic
Daniel Thomson, Newcastle Journal Live, Newcastle UK

It is not just the environment that benefits from recycling carrier bags. Great-grandmother Margaret Hann has come up with a host of imaginative uses for the everyday plastic bags most of us throw away after unpacking our shopping.The 92-year-old, of Blenheim Court, Windy Nook, Gateshead, crochets hats, bags, draught excluders and even rugby balls out of carrier bags to raise money for charity.

The Thing says Plastic Bags are for Chumps

Jan 2, 2007
Quit your day job blog

I made the decision this year to be a little more environmentally aware and do my part - which means NO plastic bags any more - I HAVE to remember to take our own bags in. Show your support by posting the image below on your own blog and saying that you agree with The Thing and you aren’t going to use plastic bags where ever possible!!!..

This refers the previous Thing post and adds more reasons why everyone should quit the plastic bag habit. He offers a challenge to his readers:

Jan. 2, 2007

Plastic Activist in Alabama

Jan. 2, 2007
Taking Up the Battle
By Amanda Hardy, Lagniappe, Mobile AL

Heaps of paper, glass, plastic and aluminum in landfills reaching higher than the RSA tower, millions of Styrofoam take out containers forming one horrifying monster who haunts the earth for an entire millennia before it biodegrades: these are the images in the nightmares of environmental crusaders around the world. Many feel the environment is being mindlessly destroyed everyday, even here in Mobile, but there are a few people who are taking up the battle to make our planet and city beautiful again...

Monday, January 15, 2007

CRAFTY: Sea Creatures

Whip Up recommended this beautiful work. In a lovely twist, these sea creatures are crocheted of yarn made from plastic bags by artist Helle Jorgensen in Australia.

Ban all plastic bags

Ian Kiernan is calling for a total ban on plastic bags in Australia:

Ban all plastic bags Says Clean Up Australia Chairman
Border Mail, Wodonga, Victoria, Australia

THE failure of a levy to curb use of plastic bags in Ireland confirms a complete ban is necessary, the founder of the Clean Up Australia movement says.
Clean Up Australia chairman Ian Kiernan said yesterday that privately commissioned polling showed Australians would support such a ban...

OR Audubon Pledges to Use Reuse

“Plastic bags are the ecological bane of the world,” said John Gaylord, board member of Oregon's Audubon Society. The organization is recommending 14 ways for members to green up, and asking them to pledge:

Jan. 15, 2007
Corvallis Audubon Society goes green
Theresa Hogue, Gazette-Times, Corvallis, OR

An organization such as the Corvallis Audubon Society, which focuses on wandering the wilderness looking for bird life, would seem a good place for folks with an interest in sustainability and “green” living to naturally congregate...

Bio Wrap in Sri Lanka

This is really cool -- Viraj Senewiratne of Sri Lanka has invented a 100% bio-degradable starch wrapping material to replace the plastic bags now banned there. They decompose in 160 days:

Sunday Times, Columbo, Sri Lanka

Lunch sheets, sili-sili bags and grocery bags will be taboo in the New Year, under a ban on polythene, with a thickness of 20 microns and below, to be strictly enforced on January 1, 2007...

Plastic bag levy failing

The success of the Irish plastax is dimming. Bag use is back up:

January 8, 2007
Plastic bag levy failing
Sunanda Creagh

IRELAND'S levy on plastic bags, once heralded as a market solution to an environmental problem, has failed to curb the country's plastic addiction, prompting calls from Australian environment groups for a total ban here.

The number of bags used in Ireland dropped to 85 million in a year after the levy was introduced in 2002, but was back up to 115 million in 2005 and has risen steadily since.
At the end of this month, the Irish Government will increase the levy by seven Euro cents (12 cents) from 15 Euro cents...

CRAFTY: Beyond Lightbulbs

Nice graphics "Beyond Lightbulbs" from Emme in Minnesota, Simple Living Blog. You can download them to use yourself.

The Courage to Use your Reusables

This mom had a lot of trepidation about using her reusable bags at the grocery store but she overcame that and tells this story:

January 05, 2007
I Can Do It!
Princess and the Pea blog

This week on our baby-steps journey through 2008 at IndieMom we've dedicated ourselves to taking our own bags shopping, something I've wanted to do for a long time but have never had the guts, so while I wasn't able to do it exactly as I had planned I did follow through with the challenge as best I could and was pretty darn proud and happy when all was said and done...

Saving Money Saving the Environment

January 06, 2007
Saving Money and Saving the Environment
WAGblog, Pamela Spiro Wagner

Say it costs the chemical companies $1-$2 to produce 500 grocery bags, which I hate to say but that may be all it takes. Still, think how many grocery bags a large store uses, at least millions a year. Multiply that by the number of stores there are that use plastic bags, Walmart and all such stores included, and you can see why stopping the use of them could save quite a bit of oil as well as reduce a lot of landfill and unsightly litter.

Australia Call to Ban

January 7, 2007
Call to ban plastic bags
Peter Weekes

CLEAN UP Australia wants a total ban on plastic shopping bags after a voluntary scheme among large retailers to reduce their use failed to meet targets. Chairman Ian Kiernan said retailers had agreed to reduce the use of plastic bags by 50 per cent but fell short of the target by 5 per cent last year...

Zero garbage? Can do

A Toronto couple is striving for an empty trash bin this year. One way they do it is to wash and reuse each plastic bag until it begins to deteriorate (which takes about three months):

Zero garbage? Can do
DALE DUNCAN, Special to The Globe and Mail, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Sarah McGaughey loves to talk trash. While the rest of us try to go to the gym more often, her resolution for 2007 is to make absolutely no household waste -- and she and her husband, Kyle Glover, might just pull it off.
In 2005, the couple produced one garbage bag of trash. In 2006, they took one grocery bag to the curb every two weeks. But this year, the committed environmentalists are striving for zero...

CRAFTY: Tablecloth to Bag

Handmade in Sussex, England from recycled table cloths and ticking. Pretty idea, wouldn't be hard to make one yourself:

More Shopping Bags
Bonnie Alter, Treehugger

We love carrier bags and regularly resolve to carry them around all the time so that we won’t have to resort to using nasty plastic bags at the supermarket. Here is yet another variation on the theme; this one made of vintage fabrics for a country-chic look...

go direct to the company's site

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Great Short Film - Watch it!

This is GREAT! a short film about the problems with plastic bags, highlighting the beautiful reusable bags of I'm going to put this on my sidebar so it remains easy to find:

Produced, filmed and directed by Petica Watson, Edited by Anthony Alexander. The company is called Connected Pictures

2006 in Review

Edie is an environmental business directory in the UK:

Waste & Recycling - Review of the Year 2006
Surrey, UK

The year saw the notion of producer responsibility pick up pace, as regulations designed to make manufacturers pay for the waste produced by their products began to bite...

Army chooses Paper Over Plastic

Even the US Army is cutting back on plastic bag use, though from a purely cost-cutting motive. According to this article, paper bag costs have increased 34 percent in the past three years, while plastic bag costs have risen 84 percent. Reusables are just an afterthought here:

Dec. 21, 2006
Choose paper over plastic bags at U.S. commissaries
Army News Service, Defense Commissary Agency, Fort Lee, VA

Commissaries are hoping shoppers in the U.S. will say yes to paper bags for bagging their groceries as part of the Defense Commissary Agency's measures to offset major cost increases of plastic and paper bags...

Tips for Retailers

Planet Ark is an Australian environmental group. These are simple but effective ideas for distributer-based education:

Tips for retailers to encourage the use of reusable bags
Planet Ark, Sydney, Australia

Inventor of the Dreaded Bag Passes Away

In the late 1970s, this North Carolina inventor developed the high-density plastic grocery bag. He helped make it the ubiquitous plague it is today. He must have recognized the problems at some point, because after he retired, Gordon Dancy started Phoenix Recycling, dedicated to recycling many of the plastic bags used in grocery stores:

Dec. 23, 2006
Myrtle Beach tinkerer dies
Kelly Marshall Fuller, The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, NC

A Myrtle Beach man who helped spread the phrase "paper or plastic" died Wednesday at Georgetown Memorial Hospital. Gordon Dancy, 67, who developed the high-density plastic grocery sack, spent his time improving items that would make the world run more smoothly, said his son, Mark Dancy...

Recycling Programs Failing in Greece

Greece's citizens resisted a plastax in 2005, but they are dealing with some big trash problems now:

Trash piles up as recycling fails
Kathimerini, Athens, Greece

The amount of rubbish produced per person in Greece has increased 43 percent to 440 kilos per year since 1995 with packaging waste – from food and consumer items – adding to household garbage, experts said yesterday. Most of the household rubbish ends up in any one of the 1,200 legal and illegal landfills that can be found across Greece...

2006 Positive Changes

Nov. 9, 2006
No More Plastic Bags - Action in Japan and Zanzibar
The Lazy Environmentalist blog, UK

Having long been a supporter of the highly successful 'plas tax' in Ireland (which has reduced plastic bag consumption by over 95%), and having written elsewhere at length on this issue, I was delighted to read yesterday not only of action in Japan, which comes hot on the heels of Zanzibar's decision to ban the import and production of plastic bags to protect its environment and tourism industry.

Where to Get Reusable Bags

Reusable bags seem to be hanging on every chair back and doorknob at my house, but some people might not be so lucky. Californians Against Waste has a website full of helpful info, including this list of places to get reusable bags:

Bye-bye Sili-silis!

New plastic bags (sili-silis) law kicks into effect in Sri Lanka. It ends with "it's time to pull out your old cane baskets or invest in some handy cloth bags the next time you go shopping":

Wish you a sili-sili-free New Year
Nadia Fazlulhaq, Sunday-Times, Columbo, Sri Lanka

Go to a supermarket today and you will, no doubt, come home with more than half a dozen sili-sili bags containing your purchases. Tomorrow, though, it may be a different story as Sri Lanka takes the significant step of doing away with thin polythene in the New Year...

New Laws in CA

Several plastic waste related bills have become since Jan. 1, including AB 2449:

New environmental laws taking effect
The Times-Standard, Eureka, CA

California residents will notice changes next year as a result of new laws that will affect plastic bag recycling programs to larger fines against illegal dumping on private property...