Monday, November 30, 2009

RAP @ OTIS - 07Dec09

...Parsons School of Design, that is...

Students from Otis college of Art and Design announced today that they will be hosting an event to raise awareness and educate the Otis community about the effects of single-use plastic consumption on the environment.

The event which is the result of a partnership between Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics Program and students from the Integrated Learning department at Otis. Students will showcase will involve art and design interventions, interactive installations, , and video and animation projects, which aim to promote and educateencourage visitors the community to reduce and refuse single-use plastic consumption in a fun and positive way.

The Green Ambassadors and Community Changemakers from the Green Ambassadors from Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale will be giving a special “Rise Above Plastics” very special RAP presentation and will also be modelling the “Plastic Fashion” they designed in their R’ahsion—Recycled Fashion—class. at the event and gGuests will be invited to participate in creative ways to pledge to take rise above plastics in creative ways, such as the plastic pledge. Students will be making reusable grocery bags at the event from used tank tops and more. . Refreshments will be served and there will be gift bags for those that arrive first!


Monday December 7, 2009 - 4pm - 6pm
5 pm – Fashion Show and Presentation by Green Ambassadors & Community Changemakers

Otis Student Lounge, Otis College of Art and Design
9045 Lincoln Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045, (800) 527-6847

Bring: old tank top – leave with a RAP designed shopping bag

Contact: Lara Hoad from Otis for more details:, (310) 773-6674

CALTRANS: Missing the Point?

But - a great green-washing effort nonetheless!! Gotta love the feel-good factor of placing more recycling bins at roadside rest stops...right? First, check the origin of the story, and collaboration: "SOURCE American Chemistry Council", as noted at the bottom of the web-page 'article'.

I think we can all agree that the problem lies (literally and figuratively) on the roadside stretches BETWEEN the rest stops. Much like our oceanic gyres, our roadsides are strewn with trash - most of it plastic bags and bottles. I recently spoke at a local city council meeting considering a bag ban and concerned that I lacked evidence for a convincing argument, I counted plastic bags along the 30 mile drive of the I-5 freeway...and was shocked to tally-up 68 bags - and that was just one side of the highway and did not include areas where I had to pay attention to traffic versus counting the "urban tumbleweeds".

Bottom line, the plastics manufacturers are again encouraging us to fix their problem of the instant waste by recycling their product. Why are items like extremely durable plastic bottles designed for one fleeting use? Answer: $$$$$$$, baaaaby!

I can still remember the days when you returned your glass drink bottles for redemption - and they'd be sterilized and refilled. But now the burden of dealing with the waste receptacle (plastic bottle) has been shifted/dumped into our laps.

Perhaps the ACC should sponsor some Adopt A Highway areas and put their $$$ where their green(back)-washing mouths are, yes? Much better to set a good example, be a good neighbor, turn a good deed, versus touting the tiresome and distracting rest stop cosmetic's the phone number: 1-866-ADOPT-A-HWY

North Atlantic Plastic Trash Expedition

I hope we weren't leading you to believe that the Pacific Ocean is the only ocean with plastic trash swirling around...!

Luckily, no part of the world is now safe from expeditions seeking out plasticized gyres. The Sea Education Association (SEA) is planning a(nother) trip to the Atlantic next summer to document the plastics plague potential there, in their sweet ride, the SSV Corwith Cramer, SEA's 134-foot brigantine-rigged sailing oceanographic research vessel.

The expedition is funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, and is in collaboration with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Woods Hole Sea Grant.

Read about it here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Leavin' it all the cash register!

Okay Grassrootsers - time to take action with a growing movement to send a message to manufacturers & retailers: Nix the excess packaging!!!

What is it? It's a new-ish idea-as-a-nascent-movement and at this point, is loosely referred to as Leave All Of Your Packaging Behind. Our good friend, Anna Cummins of Algalita fame, broached the idea at a gathering of activists a couple of weeks ago and for now, I can only describe the intent, the action, the desired result and where to connect with others that are activating on it.

The Intent: Reduce the production of extraneous packaging plastics and packaging in general...thereby reducing garbage, thereby reducing garbage...that reaches our oceans.

The Action: This is easy...just de-package your purchases at the retailer checkstand and leave that trash behind for the store to deal with - why is it your problem?

The Desired Result: So much of what we buy comes with packaging that serves no purpose other than to fill landfills (and oceans) and we'd suspect that this action, if adopted widely, could push the message through the retailers "up" to the manufacturers, "Hello, you needn't wrap your products in so much trash do ya?". Now...granted, many manufacturers are already moving away from over-packaging practices, and logically, they'll be rewarded by not feeling the 'heat' of this action, yes? ...and a lot of packaging is designed simply as a security "aid" (more difficult to stash a packaged single banana in your pocket than it would be unpackaged), but that's the store's problem and not ours, for sure.

Where To Connect: This idea is just forming and I was unable to find a website (perhaps you will build one?), outside of the very new "Cause" of the same name on Facebook:

Find the FB Cause here.

If you are on FB, join the cause, if you're not a FB'r, spread the word (in the parlance of the day) "virally", to your friends, family, and others. The FB Cause sports a feature allowing you to tell your (de)packaging anecdotes to the group...

Two things to consider:

1) Stay outta trouble! Dont go causing a ruckus and getting yourself arrested trying to make a statement over at the local solar-powered Walmart, just keep cool and take what you paid for and leave behind what you didnt (pay for). Remember the old honey/vinegar attractiveness ratio - mom wasn't wrong on that one.

2) Some have expressed concern that "at least the stuff will get recycled at my house if I take it home." A valid concern! This movement may become more effective as an organized quarterly, or monthly (ala Critical Mass, if you're familiar) action. Stay tuned for more info on that angle, but for now, just try it out and see how it works! Also know that major retailers bale up the cardboard that they accumulate for recycling.

A recent entry on the Huffington Post raises the problematic issues of excess packaging - check it out here! It plants the seed that we should all be "voting with our dollars" by avoiding items wrapped in too much junk packaging.

Long one - sorry - but this is just getting started and how better to get the word out, than to get the word out!?!

Happy De-Packaging Holidays!