Friday, May 21, 2010

BPA Avalanche

I followed my own advice after yesterday's BPA/EPA post, and JEEZ - seek a little information about BPA (and we’re not talking about the British Parachute Association) and you'd better get ready for the flood gates to open on you. A little poking around unearthed these verrrrry interesting items:

==> Business is more worried about their $$$ than your health. Pushback, Baby, Pushback!

==> Two states have already banned BPA and a Senator from California has proposed banning it across the country. Ban the BEEP!

==> Canada and Denmark were the first countries to blanket-ban this toxic chemical in food containers...the dominoes are starting to fall... Dominoes!

==> Consumer reports finds BPA in most all tin-can liners – including organic products AND cans labeled as “BPA Free”. That just ain’t right.

It's definitely info to keep an eye on, and the list is ennnndlessss, fer sher…but don’t let it ruin your weekend – try parachuting, it may be safer than drinking from a plastic bottle!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

EPA (re)Discovers BPA - YAY!

The EPA has finally recognized bisphenol-A (BPA) as a “chemical of concern” – whew, and we thought that they didn’t even care. Go get ‘em, EPA! Let’s hope that it’s not too late for us – but the article in Natural Foods Merchandiser quotes a study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which declares that 93% of humans studied, ages 6 and up, have BPA in their urine. 93% = you. :(

Frankly, this shouldn’t be all that surprising (93%?! - WT*?), considering that BPA is delivered to you, at no extra charge, by way of sources like plastic drink bottles and even the liners of the majority of canned foods! You pretty much have to be Amish to avoid the stuff…

What’s the fuss? BPA is a “reproductive, developmental and systemic toxicant”, according to the EPA’s own Action Plan Summary. Translated: BPA can cause lab frogs to change sexual orientation (not meaning that they 'go gay' - it's more of a sex-change operation) as they grow through adolescence, among other things, so the thought of what it may do to humans is well, scary. The fact that the EPA is just now getting on the bandwagon with/against BPA, now that we all have it in our bodies, is even scarier.

Why does Rise Above Plastics care? BPA is a poison that is very useful as a "binder & stabilizer" for plastic formulas, and it leeches into our oceans as plastics photodegrade there (see: North Pacific Gyre)...and absorb other Persistent Organic Pollutants, which fish then inadvertently eat, which we then inadvertently eat...and well, as you can see, it's complicated...!

Read the NFM article here…its is packed with helpful links to more info about BPA and all of the organizations involved in this recent revelation.

Other BPA fun-links:

Another report of the new EPA plan, from a plastics industry website.

Wikipedia entry for BPA.

Product description by a company that produces BPA for sale.

Ancient articles about concerns of BPA are easy to find...just internet search "BPA" or "bisphenol-A".

Looking forward to a plastics-free day - have a good'un!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Oceans Lobby Day in Sacto

As previously detailed in this blog, California State is considering a bill to curtail all single-use bags at retail outlets (AB1998) and the Clean Seas Coalition has organized a number of environmental groups (Surfrider, Heal the Bay, etc) for a “lobby day” up in Calif’s state capitol in Sacramento. It’s today…so you can only imagine the free lunches (“there is no such thing as a free lunch”) and the large-denomination bills changing hands (our meager bank accounts do not allow us to afford this kind of “influence”), and full-tilt AcTiViSm (that’s US!) carpeting the city there today.

Among the influencers is Surfrider’s Sara Bayles – not only an Oceana “Ocean Hero” award winner, but she’s also the creator and author of The Daily Ocean blog – check it out, she is keeping a 365-day log of daily beach cleanups that she’s conducting in Los Angeles beaches…so far: day 121, 483 lbs, 244 days to go.

Her site is packed with beach garbage photos and videos – and ya know what – she’s good at talkin’ trash too!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Shocking Plastics Video

Beware: this is a tough one to start you week with…you may instead want to come back in a couple of days to see it – but it will strengthen your resolve against plastic pollution. Along with production footage from a plastics factory, images of long-chain plastic molecules and music by Queen, this high-quality video starts out with a few gruesome clips of animals meeting their demise eating and tangled in single-use, and other kinds of, plastics.

An ugly reality, but ya know, this is the reality that we are facing as the natural world collides head-on with our cast-off plastic garbage.

It’s the reality that drives us here at Rise Above Plastics. It’s the reality that lies at the core of all of the plastic bans that we push legislators to foster and pass. It’s the reality that fuels the rage against selfish plastics manufacturers that urge us to recycle our way out of this problem as they make their tidy profits. It’s the reality that will only get worse if we idly sit by and watch it all happen. It’s the reality that needs to be seen by all to confirm that it really is happening – forward it freely and get with the Rise Above Plastics movement!!!!

With that proper warning, here is “Our Today is Forever”.

The associated YouTube page lists a number of other plastics-related videos of note.

Have a Single-Use Plastics-free week!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Entangled Whale News

Unfortunately, it’s been hard to keep up with the entangled-whale stories these days – and this one looked hopeful last week when Sea World biologists removed netting, ropes and other lines from a young gray whale in Southern California’s Dana Point harbor, allowing it to swim free after the rescue episode.

Coming just one month after Dana Point’s 39th Annual Festival of the Whale, this distressing occurrence joins a growing list of whale entanglements presenting themselves in 2010. You can read about the rescue and see video of the whale here.

Sadly, the emaciated whale died just hours after it was freed. The nets and debris had entangled its tail and one of its fins, not allowing it to swim unencumbered, and presumably, feed. After a short display of renewed energy, it seemed as though the adolescent whale would swim off to resume the migration north – instead, it meandered listlessly near the harbor entrance and eventually died of…well, experts hope to examine the carcass for indications of cause of death. A short report of the death is here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

CA State Bag Ban Legislation

It's a LEFT COAST kind of Friday...!

Well, ask and ye shall receive – in the last post to this blog, a statewide ban against single-use plastics was politely proposed …and guess what – there IS one in the works, AB 1998 aiming to ban plastic bags, that’s percolating its way through the convoluted, gassy bowels of the California State legislature. The following blurb was (blatantly) stolen from the Surfrider CA Policy blog:

Many of California's cities have been trying to regulate plastic bag consumption for years, recognizing that something must be done about the flimsy petroleum-based product that is difficult to recycle and all too often ends up as a littered eyesore.

Due to the outcry of our Chapters to address the issue of plastic pollution on our oceans and beaches, Surfrider Foundation has been working to support statewide legislation to Ban the Bag. Right now, Assembly Bill 1998 (Brownley) is being assessed by our legislature. The bill would ban all single-use carryout plastic bags, limit the distribution of paper bags, and require reusable bags to be available for purchase. This is the most progressive effort of any other state in the nation!

To find out more and take action, check out this action alert from Heal the Bay and Environment California, our partner organizations for addressing plastic pollution.

Read a bit more about the details of AB 1998 at this cool website.

Granted, similar legislation has been tried, and has failed, before in California, but ya gotta exercise Surfrider’s sub-motto of “constant pressure, endlessly applied” in situations like this! If you are a California resident, hit up the Action AlertSO EASY, you supply your name and address and the website sends the letter to your appropriate “elected” for you – it’s a SNAP, as in “OH! SNAP!

Please do it ASAP - the legislators need keep this bill on schedule!!

THANX and happy pau hana!

Foam-Free Fremont (Calif)

Great News! Fremont will become the fifth city in Alameda County, California (SE San Francisco Bay Area) to implement a plastic-foam ban, joining Alameda, Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland. (Santa Cruz county has been verrrry progressive on this action as well - check it out!)

Slated to begin on 1/1/2011, the Fremont styrofoam ban was proposed and passed by the local city council and will be applied to restaurants and those doing business with the city…though grocery stores will not be subject to the ordinance. Read all about it here.

California is knocking these ordinances out, city by city…perhaps it’s time for a state-wide initiative? I vote YEA!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Two from SOUP

These two stories are from Surfrider’s SOUP, “a weekly serving of coastal news Action Alerts” – which delivers ocean-related stories and images of the week.

First off: An entire town has banned plastic water bottles! Soup reports, “Concord, MA has become the first municipality in the country to ban sales of bottled water. Town residents last week approved the ban which will become effective January 1, 2011. The effort was led by 82-year old activist, Jean Hill who lobbied neighbors and officials about the consequences of plastic bottles clogging our nation's streets, landfills and oceans. The measure would allow the sale of refillable containers of water, which could still be sold and delivered in town.“ We could all use an 82 year old (82!!) activist that can kick a** like that, with BOTH FEET! Go Jean! Read the article here.

Next up: A group of Aussie surfers, "Guardians of the Pacific", has started a DIY (“do it yourself”) semi-guerilla campaign against plastic bottles. They have seen enough trash in the ocean and are fed up, so... They place uninvited stickers and placards in store display cases and on vending machines to encourage shoppers to make non-plastic choices. So far…stubbies still come in glass only… Check their website for downloadable items with which you can plaster your own local stores. AUSSSome.

You can sign up for Surfrider’s non-inbox-clogging weekly SOUP email variety blurbs, by going here and signing up (“Stay Informed” signup box is at the top left). Totally RAD!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Wash it GREEEN!

The latest from C.R.A.P.P. - remember: Think "Look! Dolphins!!" to distract your mind from evil thoughts, and see true value in seeing the word "recyclable" on everything plastic:

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Taylor's Plastic Story

7 year old Taylor helped her Mom clean up litter this year in Port Aransas, Texas. What resulted is below.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cupcakes, Dolphins, & Rainbows!

It’s the LA Times versus the American Chemistry Council…choose your sides, and make your bets.

Essentially, the Times recently wrote an Op/Ed proposing a bag fee on ALL shopping bags dispensed at retail outlets, and the ACC then responds with a keep-buying-and-managing-the-disposal-of-our-product opinion piece, going so far as to admit that their plastic bags are a “scourge on our streets, beaches and oceans”…along with a plea to keep recycling them since the recycling programs are finally “working” (this is the “Dolphins, Cupcakes & Rainbows” part – meaning: in dreamland everyone recycles…and eats yummy cupcakes for all meals and has dolphin friends that leap over never-ending rainbows) – even though only 5% of bags are recycled, according to the LA Times.

The Times Op/Ed mentions a California State Senate bill that proposes an outright ban on bags, and then reigns that in with the idea of the more realistic, and recently-proven concept of a fee on all bags. The fees have tended to work WELL in places that adopt them (just google “Washington DC bag fee” and/or see this recent post). There have been a number of bills in California’s senate over the last couple of years – ever since San Fran attempted a bag ban – and each has fallen by the wayside, victims, no doubt, to prodding by lobbyists and fear of any change from the status quo.

While we digest all of that, take a look at this – a PDF doc, compiled by Surfrider San Diego and San Diego Coastkeeper, that details a few years' worth of beach cleanups in San Diego County (and is partially pictured above). These two groups catalog everything that is picked up along the San Diego county’s ~75 miles of beaches…and nearly everything that was found was….plastic. Please feel free to publish and distribute this info - BTW, here's the accompanying press release.

Lastly, but not leastly, keep track of what you pick up at the beach...and see if your totals don't match the trends detailed in the above report.

Happy Monday!