Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bottled water: The New Vice

Great ideas popping up from Michigan – tax the lazy, and give to the undereducated! Good to see bottled water join its brethren, Gambling, Alcohol and the Adult Industry (the other vices), as a taxable vice that can help under-served (no pun) sectors of society. The Wolverine State says “tax bottled water and put that money toward education” – read about it here.

The interesting twist here is that they propose to put an end to the state's groundwater being extracted (and bottled) without what many see as proper compensation to the state's residents. So perhaps instead of "Tax the Lazy (bottled water users)" and give to the undereducated, we can think of it as a Robin Hood-esque drama: Tax water rustlers and give to the undereducated...and hopefully clip plastic bottle production? Revolutionary…

A similar and hard-hitting position is taken by two recent movies on the subject of groundwater ownership: Flow and Tapped - check them out and make the connection to the basics of the Rise Above Plastics campaign for yourself!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cross-border Plastics - 1440 Bottles/day, Two Lightbulbs

In San Diego, we are (still) battling an ancient and ongoing problem which is unique to our local geography and regional political boundaries: sewage and trash washes across the border from Mexico into the US in San Diego County when the rains eventually come to sunny California & Baja. The Mexican city across the border, Tijuana, is largely unable to stop the flow, for many reasons, the main one being that the riverbed’s uphill watershed sits mainly on the Mexican side, with the sea-level riverbed finishing it’s flow to the ocean on the US side. That’s the simple explanation – believe me that it’s waaaaay/mucho more involved than that, but for our Rise Above Plastics concerns that’s all we need to know for now. (Surfrider’s Dan Murphy and the Tijuana river Citizen’s Council and others have even formed a coalition, cleverly named “NO B.S.” [the B.S. part mainly means “Border Sewage] to try to fix the problem – wish us luck! Check out the NO B.S. blog. Lotsa good photos 'n stuff there.)

What’s this got to do with plastics? Well, the Tijuana River valley empties into the ocean, which means that the trash (lotsa plastic and tires)…empties…into…the…ocean. The photos in a recent Voice of San Diego story show the extent of the trash problem – repeated smaller storms lay down layers of trash and sand, and larger storms that come along wash that stratified trash out the estuary and into the sea.

To see for myself, I made the 20 minute ride down there on a rainy day last year (bad one – horses died in the flooding that day). I was a tad underwhelmed to see only about one-plastic-bottle-per-minute float by, along with the trees, etc being flushed out in the chocolate-colored water. ONLY ONE PER MINUTE?? But, do the math grasshoppah – that’s 60 minutes per hour times 24 hours to a day = 1440 bottles added to the oceanic trash heap in that day alone – yikes! My little brain then tried to imagine how many semi-Third World rivers dump into the ocean around the globe – in areas muuuch more rainy than So Cal – double yikes! (Light bulb above the head) We have a major problem here…!

It’s surprising that we were ever surprised that the Pacific’s “floating trash heap” even existed – (light-bulb above head, again - DING!) OF COURSE, where else would all that stuff go off to? We/I/old-conventional-“thinking” always just figured that it went “away” – out of sight, out of mind, y’know?

At least we now know where “away” is =====> our silent oceans.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Beans for Bags in Rio!

Subtitle: Rio De Janiero Takes a Strong Stance Against Plastic Bags!

Great ideas from Brazil - a beans & rice CRV for plastic bags, read on:

From our Rio-via-San-Francisco Surfrider RAP rep, Melissa Legget:

Bags, Now Only of Reusable Material


The government bill mandating that plastic bags distributed by stores be substituted for reusable bags was approved on June 24, 2009 by the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro (Alerj). The bill, proposed in 2007, took almost two years to be voted on because of pressure by various economic groups. Finally, the bill has finally been signed by Governor Sergio Cabral, making the legislation into law.

In those two years, sixteen parliamentary amendments were incorporated into the original government bill. An original amendment stated that stores continuing to use plastic bags would have to buy back each bag for R$.03 (US$.015) or give a kilo of rice or beans for every 50 bags returned to the store, even if that particular store did not distribute the particular bags in the first place. In the latest version of the law, stores are no longer required to buy back bags but will have to give at least a R$.03 discount for every 5 items to clients who choose to use their own bags. In the final text, the food exchange program was maintained.

Stores will also have to put up signs informing customers that plastic material takes more than one hundred years to decompose. Fines for not complying with the new law could reach more than R$10,000 (US$5,000). Large companies will have one year and small companies will have three years to implement the new legislation. The president of Alerj, Jorge Picciani (PMDB), affirmed that he will meet with business entities and write a new bill incorporating proposed alterations to the bill approved yesterday.

The bill was proposed in 2007 by the then State Secretary of the Environment, Carlos Minc, today Brazil's Minister of the Environment. The government's justification for the bill is that plastic bags cause grave problems for the environment, principally to streams and rivers, where the accumulation of this material provokes floods in regions close to rivers. Pressure by commercial entities and the plastic industry delayed the voting process.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Worth a Replay - The Work Of Felipe Bascope (ala Saatchi & Saatchi)!

[click on any image for a hi-def look...]

This last one is actual beach clean-up trash chicken-wired onto a billboard - click it for a closer look - it's eye-popping! (Dont be surprised if you see only plastics.)

Felipe put these into play in his days at the generous & mod media/marketing firm Saatchi & Saatchi. See more of Felipe's work on his blog!