Thursday, July 31, 2008

Plastic Surprise

Creative by Saatchi & Saatchi

More seafood.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Action Alert for California - AB 2058 Needs Help!

The American Chemistry Council and bag manufacturers are digging into their deep pockets to fund a campaign against AB 2058 (Plastic Bag Litter Reduction Act). They are spreading misinformation about the environmental and societal impacts of reducing plastic bag usage. For the first time, California has the chance to pass the most aggressive policy to reduce plastic bag consumption. We can’t allow the American Chemistry Council and others to use their large budgets to spread misinformation to legislators and the public.


Under AB 2058, large grocery stores and pharmacies would be required to charge a 25 cent fee for plastic grocery bags, the proceeds of which would be used for local litter abatement, cleanup and prevention programs. This fee-based approach has encouraged shoppers to bring their own reusable bags and has reduced plastic bag consumption in Ireland by over 90%.

Tell your legislator to SUPPORT AB 2058. Let your legislator know that all Californians want to protect their community from plastic bag pollution. Please take a few moments to fill out this form with sample letter and we will hand deliver your letter to legislative offices in Sacramento.

Myths versus Facts

Myth #1: This proposed law is a tax.
Fact: AB 2058 is NOT a tax, it’s “fee by choice”. You can CHOOSE not pay 25 cents if you just remember BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag.

Myth #2: This proposed law will hurt low-income consumers.
Fact: AB 2058 can actually help low-income consumers SAVE money and clean up plastic bag blight in their communities. Under AB 2058, proceeds from the revenue can also be spent on reusable bag giveaway programs.
• Low-income communities are burdened by the blight caused by plastic bag litter in their communities. Los Angeles County spends $18 million per year on litter prevention, cleanup and enforcement activities—tax dollars that could’ve otherwise been invested in public safety, libraries and parks.
• The plastic bag industry is already making a profit off of low-income families that pay upwards of $18 per year in “hidden costs.” Each time you get a plastic bag at the grocery store, you pay 2-5 cents that is already embedded in the price of goods.

Myth #3: There is no need for this law because plastic bags are fully recyclable.
Fact: While plastic bags are recyclable, less than 5% actually get recycled despite aggressive efforts to educate the public and implement recycling programs. California currently spends $25 million per year to landfill plastic bag litter. The quantity of plastic marine debris is rising and WE CANNOT CONTINUE TO RECYCLE OUR WAY OUT OF THIS PROBLEM.

Friday, July 25, 2008

point - counter point

nice little back and forth in the comment area... check out the wend piece here

Thursday, July 24, 2008

LA City Council Votes to Ban Plastic Bags

From the LA TImes, July 22, 2008:

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to ban plastic carryout bags in the city's supermarkets and stores by July 2010 -- but only if the state fails to impose a 25-cent fee on every shopper who requests them.

Council members said they hope an impending ban would spur consumers to begin carrying canvas or other reusable bags, reducing the amount of plastic that washes into the city's storm drains and the ocean.

"This is a major moment for our city, to bite the bullet and go with something that is more ecologically sensitive than what we've ever done before," said Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents such coastal neighborhoods as Venice and Playa del Rey.

Tuesday's vote comes as the plastic bag industry, formally known as the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, is fighting efforts to regulate its products. The group filed a lawsuit last week challenging a Los Angeles County plan to reduce plastic bags by roughly 30% by 2010.

Still, a lawyer for the coalition said that as long as the council's decision remains a policy and not a law, he sees no need for a legal fight.

"Why challenge it?" asked coalition attorney Stephen Joseph. "It's not an ordinance."

The council also voted to require city agencies to stop purchasing polystyrene food containers starting next year.

The plastic bag ban was hailed by environmental groups, including Heal the Bay and the Surfrider Foundation. Opponents warned the policy will have a devastating effect on the region's packaging companies.

"When we start banning things and closing factories, where are the blue-collar workers going to go?" asked Anatolio Riegos, a Highland Park resident who works for Pactiv, a packaging company in the City of Industry that has roughly 1,300 workers.

City officials estimate that Los Angeles consumers use 2.3 billion plastic bags each year. An estimated 5% of plastic bags are recycled statewide, according to the city's Bureau of Sanitation.

The ban was proposed by Councilman Ed Reyes, who called plastic bags "the graffiti of the L.A. River ," which passes through his district.

Although the plan originally called for the bag ban to go into effect in 2012, council members Janice Hahn and Richard Alarcon persuaded their colleagues to embrace an earlier deadline.

Alarcon said the council would eventually pass a law regulating plastic bags. But for now, the council's vote is designed to persuade state lawmakers to impose a fee on them.

"If they don't do [a fee], then we do a ban," said Alarcon, who represents the northeast San Fernando Valley . "So yes, at some point there would be an ordinance."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Beach trash, but no beach users?

This one is ugly - NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmopheric Administration) just did the latest in a series of surveys of a stretch of beaches in Alaska, looking mainly for shipping and fishing cast-off debris - basic marine debris like nets, floats, etc.

They found the usual stuff, and though the data has "not been fully analyzed", the most marked difference in "deposits" since the last survey (in 1994) is...oh yes, "hundreds and sometimes thousands of plastic drink bottles littering almost every kilometer of the surveyed shoreline" which were further described as being "easy to notice".

Read up on it here.

While you're there, poke around in the Photo Gallery and seek out Marine Debris 101 to find shots of Sources, Impacts & Solutions - lotsa good stuff from the superstars at Ocean Conservancy. The Impacts==>Wildlife page has some shocking images, so beware.

Thanks to Rick Wilson, Surfrider's Coastal Management Coordinator, for this one.

Going all the way...for 250,000 years

Oregon Surfrider Executive Operative, Stiv Wilson, is teaming up with other local Portland activists (Leave No Plastic Behind) to...well, Leave No Plastic Behind. They are rejecting, ejecting and transcending single-use plastics - that or keep them with them forever, or for 250,000 years, which ever comes first.

Check this progressive action out here - and try it yourself...and see if you can get through an entire day without your pockets or purse filling to the brim.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Plastic Newspaper Bags

One of single use plastics we get here in San Diego is a plastic bag covering our newspaper in the morning. It is used even less of a distance than a grocery bag (from the carrier's car to the sidewalk). I just called the San Diego Union Tribune and found out that you can request to have your paper delivered without a plastic bag. People need to do insist that plastic not be provided - make your voices heard!


The Message is Getting Out There!

As some of you know, I am a real estate lawyer as my "real" job. One of my clients owns an Exxon Mobil gas station at the corner of Washington and India in downtown San Diego. Today he called me to tell me that his employees decided to stop giving away plastic bags at the convenience store there. Why? They said because of the Surfrider Foundation! He knows I am involved, but his employees don't. They made the decision because our outreach reached them!

Every person that refuses a plastic bag or takes their own bag, every store that stops giving them away, every person who picks up a plastic bag from the gutter and gets it into garbage (instead of letting it be washed into a storm drain) is making a difference.

Thanks for the inspiration!


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Anti-plastics sentiment from an unlikely source

I'm ghost-posting this one for Sarah Corbin, Surfrider's Central California Regional Manager (soon to be blogging here w/o my help!):

So, today I was working remotely in this little donut shop not too far from my house. There’s this group of retired guys that sits around and shoots the breeze, all day every day. By and large they’re conservative republicans (not that there’s anything wrong with that of course), and I’ve overheard their pro-Bush anti-environmentalist discussions a time or two when I stop through. TODAY, however, they were discussing plastic bags. One man asserted that he always asks for paper bags when he goes to the grocery and he reckoned that plastic bags would soon be outlawed. Another mentioned how he always sees all these plastic bags stuck in fences along the road. The guy sitting next to him cited that plastic bags choke marine animals and a fourth man chimed in to add that the bags also leach toxic chemicals into the water. Several other anecdotal comments were made and before they moved onto the next topic of the hour, they had reached a solid consensus that plastic bags are a blight to society.

I could not believe my ears.

I think this speaks to the pervasiveness of the plastics issue and the great job that your chapters and others have done to convey the message and spread the word. THIS is a victory! Your hard work is paying off…


Monday, July 14, 2008

Surfers’ Covert Film Exposes Plastic Pellet Beach Litter

This World Environment Day, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) investigators released a film that exposes poor industry practice from 'plastic injection moulding factories', which is leading to a pollution epidemic of the nation's waterways and coastline.

SAS campaigners have focused their attention on plastic and polystyrene pellets. These are the very raw materials that many of today's plastic products are moulded from, yet millions of them are being deposited around the UK's coastline.

Little more than a few millimetres in diameter, the pellets, which have been nicknamed 'mermaids tears' by campaigners, are the second most common litter item found on UK beaches according to the Marine Conservation Society's 2007 Beachwatch data. By their very nature they do not biodegrade, absorb harmful polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in concentrations up to a million times greater than the surrounding seawater and they can also be a deadly threat to sea life, which mistake them for food.

Over the past few months, SAS investigators have filmed at several plastic injection-moulding factories in Cornwall, documenting poor housekeeping practice, which is responsible for spilled pellets making their way into local waters and eventually the ocean.

In particular, they documented spilled pellets routinely left outside the factory premises, clusters of plastic and polystyrene pellets inside storm drain grills, pellets floating in their masses inside drains outside factories and wind-blown pellets strewn around other industrial premises nearby to the factories.

View the video at this link.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sometimes ya just gotta count ‘em up, Wilbur!

Here in San Diego, Surfrider is helping one progressive community, Encinitas (think: Swami’s), come up with an agreeable bag-ban ordinance. The community gathered ~1600 signatures toward that goal and about a month ago we (San Diego’s Surfrider’s Rise Above Plastics activists) officially presented them to the Encinitas City Council – hot damn, ain't we special! Part of that presentation was a short lesson, provided by Russ Levan, about the ‘big picture’ threat of plastic in our ocean environment – and like most cities facing this kinda decision, they wanna see more local evidence of a problem, as well.

I wasn’t quite prepared to speak that evening, but Russ wanted me to toss in some filler to round out our 3 minutes before the council. Holy cr*p – I AIN'T PREPARED! Luckily, the squirrels in my simple mind were churning as usual on the 25 mile drive up to the council chambers…and for kicks, and to prove it to myself that we weren’t just “whistlin’ Dixie” on this whole plastic bag thing, I -tried- to count plastic bags that had accumulated as trash on the side of the I-5 freeway on the drive up. Fun, huh?? WOOT!

...and for once I was glad to see plasti-trash at roadside… Counted 68 bags! That was what I was ABLE to count – some areas (Del Mar – you know that name from The Beach Boys “Surfin’ USA” tune, yeah) had SO MUCH accumulated trash (ahem, and traffic) that I was unable to count garbage AND drive the veggie-mobile at the same time – so much trash was wedged into the guardrails there that I could probably have added another 20 bags or more to the count. That particular section, in the parlance of the day, was BUTT-ugly – and was an eye-opener, even for me, Senor Basura. And voila - I had something to speak about at the City Council meeting - hotcha!

Ya always see trash strewn around on these major freeways (CalTrans budget cuts, baby), but never really take much notice – I try to ignore the freakin’ trash! – but try it sometime, and see what kind of bag-trash numbers you come up with. ==>…and check this out (here’s the silver lining): CalTrans has a “Report a Problem” page where you can report, among other things, “LITTER – Trash & Debris” alongg California freeways. Surprisingly, this site really creates action – several times in the recent past, my superior web-form-filling-out skills have triggered trash clean-up on freeway sections that I designate in the complaints. I gots the power! I am the bag-countin’ Puppet Master! Da link to: CalTrans

OK, back to Encinitas: we, with the help of the experts at Surfrider HQ, are now in the process of writing the draft proposal – stay tuned, wish us well and PRAY FOR SURF!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The RAP pledge