Friday, September 19, 2008

Forces of Evil in a Bozo Nightmare

Hey, its Johnny from San Diego back to recap wh'appen (hey can you believe The Beat are back together as a band) with the groundbreaking legislation that was surely going to be passed in Sacramento this year reducing plastic single use shopping bags through the imposition of a fee and lifting the moratorium on localities charging a bag fee. It looked like AB 2058 had died a quiet death to many of us when it didn't make it to the Senate floor for a vote. There was much despair in the enviro community including a threat to wear a plastic bag by at least one over his head when 2058 fizzled. What transpired had intrigue that was nothing short of a John Le Carre novel, okay this is Sacramento we are talking about but it was pretty interesting. "It's Alive!" we cried when AB 2679 was gutted and brought back to life as a plastic bags bill. Lloyd Levine was the Re-Animator! We rejoiced! The new bill had everything we wanted, including a fee for plastic and paper bags as well an exemption for low income shoppers, not to mention grocer support. We fell in love wth AB 2679, but like the summer wind it too was gone never having made it to the Senate floor like its predecessor. The forces of evil won on that day but they must realize that the tide is turning against them and we will come back stronger and more resolute in January.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

NYC fountain drink

Great piece in the NYT on water fountains. Read it here.

Illustration by John Hendrix courtesy of the New York Times.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

San Diego - trying to catch up...!

Well...a big week in Dago (I think people from outside of San Diego call it that?)! Conservative San Diego city & county is creeping toward plastics reduction - WOOT! We had a double-whammy this last Wednesday: another sunny (yawn), mild (yawn) workday (triple-yawn) started ramping up at about 2:05PM - I get a txt message on my phone, "The Bag Monster Lives!" - uh-oh...look out San Diego City Council's Natural Resources & Culture (not-quite-separated-at-birth) subcommittee - the Bag Man cometh!

One of our local Surfrider Executive Committee members, Jared Criscoulo, was about to arrive at city hall in the famous Bag Monster (google it! youtube it!) get-up! (You may remember Jared from last year’s OB street parade jackin’ the energy level in his Captain Jingle Bells outfit…another story for another time…) The Bag Monster suit is made up of ~600 single-use plastic bags – the exact number dispensed EVERY SECOND in California (and was generously loaned to us by the original Bag Monster, made famous at the Santa Monica ban hearing) – and that, combined with his Irish brougham and lament that he’s been banned from Ireland and is looking for a home – but can find none (aw!)…resonated, apparently: the NR&C poo-poo’d the ACC (google it!) plea to ignore all bag ban efforts and opted to pass the proposition of a ban/reduction effort up to the City Council decision-making body. I like to think that I had a hand in it with my semi-destructive attempt to toss free reusable cloth bags (organic!) to the subcommittee members…never underestimate the value of free stuff! Regardless, “up” to the City Council is a nice direction to be moving in, indeed – STAY TUNED!

6pm that night…Encinitas (a San Diego coastal suburb-city) was to consider an ongoing ban/reduction proposal as well. So it was to be item #11 of #18, so no need to get there early, have a nice dinner, Scott, we’ve already got one win today, get your strength bolstered. Then another txt – 7:15-ish – “THEY’RE HEARING IT NOW!”. I have something to add to the two things that are “guaranteed” (death & taxes) – city councils ALWAYS re-jigger the dang item schedule! So, 1) death, 2) taxes and 3) re-jiggering! Luckily Elizabeth and the Rise Above Plastics team energized 17 speakers in favor of the proposal to ban/reduce plastic bags (versus…maybe 3 in the “against” column) – so there was still plenty of good energy to witness. A previous-day email to Surfrider members living in Encinitas brought out a few new faces that had never spoken before a city council meeting – that was the sh*t! People motivated to come out on a Wednesday to speak from their hearts – NICE! We new going in that we had two of the five city council members on our side – we needed just one more – so all of the effort was to find the argument, the statement, the plea or the logic that would speak to any of the remaining three members in a way that would help them reach the right decision. No Bag Monster there to help, and as a non-Encinitas-resident it wouldn’t be proper for me to toss free reusable bags (organic or not) at the Encinitas city council members…so it was just the local RAP speakers that could make the case. …and guess what!! The collection of speakers made their point – and after a 3-2 vote in favor of moving forward with the ban proposal – THERE WAS MUCH REJOICING (ala Monty Python). The eager RAP volunteers got a nice shot of positivity, and a few got some face-time on local TV news programs – they were certainly ready for their close-ups!!

Alright – so, these aren’t full-on denial of across-the-board plastics like bags, bottles, styrene & Styrofoam, but in a conservative corner of the US like San Diego (don’t believe the laid-back/surfy rep hype) these are big revelations! In many ways, our Surfrider plastics-reduction efforts are simple awareness campaigns – bringing it back to Rise Above Plastics – opening people’s minds to their inadvertent actions with the disposable lifestyle and how it has been made overly easy for us to assume – AND how easy it is to eschew! The disposable “lifestyle” is delivered to us by selfish entities that produce garbage (single-use bags, for instance), who now, realizing that their product is undeniably PROBLEMATIC, tell us that the “solution” is to bring this trash back to where we got it for “proper handling” – hmmm…there is a huge design-flaw in there. Is this what has become of American ingenuity?

Chalk up two for the good guys!!!

Oh yeah, one more thing - the very next day, a local semi-hipster-weekly, The San Diego Reader, came out with a nice detailed article on our "Plague of Urban Tumbleweeds" - quoting Elizabeth and Bill from our chapter - SWEET! Check it out here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Shop Jimbo's October 11

Jimbo's is a natural foods market with 4 stores in San Diego, comparable to Whole Foods. Saturday, October 11 is Jimbo's Anniversary sale, celebrating over 20 years n San Diego. As part of their celebration, they are eliminating plastic
carryout bags at the register. For that celebration, Jimbo's has selected Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Chapter to
receive 5% of the company's sales from that day. The San Diego Chapter was was selected because of our Rise Above Plastics Campaign, and our efforts at eliminating plastic bag waste from the environment.

On October 11, Surfrider will have tables at each of Jimbo's stores in San Diego County: Carlsbad, 4S Ranch, Carmel Valley and Escondido to talk to customers about Rise Above Plastics. Please stop by and help support the cause!

Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Chapter

City of Encinitas Votes to Ban Plastic Bags

While over the last year we have been posting stories about cities around the world taking action against plastic, our Rise Above Plastics group in San Diego County has been working diligently on convincing the City of Encinitas here to take action as well. Surfrider Foundation volunteers collected close to 2,000 signatures from residents in support of a ban, and last night the City Council voted to adopt a phased in ban, aimed at getting people to use reusable bags, not single-use bags of any kind. The ordinance (yet to be drafted) would prohibit plastic bags and place a fee on paper bags. Stores could opt to sell plastic bags, but could not give them out for free.

From day one, our group faced an uphill battle in Encinitas, since only 2 out of the 5 council members are legitimately "green" and we did not know if we would get that crucial third vote. What was so heartening to me was the statement by one of the council members that he changed his mind to be in favor of the ban after hearing public testimony, read about it here. Surfrider had put the call out for people to come out to support the ban, and the 15 people that spoke in favor of the ban did so eloquently and convincingly, covering all angles. This was truly a grass roots effort.

Since I spearheaded this effort, people have been giving me congratulations, but I don't feel this is a personal victory. Rather, it is a victory for our RAP campaign, our community, the environment, and all of the volunteers who poured time and commitment into demonstrating public support. To them, I say Bravo! for a job well done.

Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Chapter

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Westport, CT the latest to ban plastic bags

From Kasey Jacobs, Vice-Chair of the Surfrider Connecticut Chapter:

Visit to view the four hour hearing/vote from last night. This was one of the best public hearings I've been to in a while. It was well orchestrated and the residents were FANTASTIC!