Thursday, September 30, 2010

Plastics Are Forever <------------ YOUTH SUMMIT!

The sleepless souls over at Algalita (and 5Gyres) are finding ways to engage the energy and creativity of the world's youth to help combat the plastic pollution problem that our oceans are facing.

This effort, called the Plastics Are Forever Youth Summit, encourages you to "Find a couple friends and come up with a solution for plastic pollution. Enter the contest, you and your friends could win a trip to come to the Plastics Are Forever Summit taking place on March 11-13, 2011 in Long Beach, CA. If you are one of the 100 students selected, you will join us for the Summit, where we will train you to become a "Plastics Are Forever" expert and join us in find the solutions to plastic pollution!". GREAT STUFF - makes some of us at the RAP Blog desk wish we weren't so creepy and old! ;)

Watch videos by MTV's The Buried Life and others, get into the nitty-gritty of the problem (and your yet-to-be-devised solution!), read the FAQ and other pertinent info at the PAF website. It's a killer website, with lotsa media, maps as well as ideas - AND the opportunity to plug into a solution to one of the oceans' most dire threats - plastics from you and me.

The odds look pretty good: they are choosing 100 students to attend the Summit in California and participate in expert training to become Plastics Are Forever ambassadors...NICE!

Git right on it!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Italy Bans Plastic Bottles!

Well...*part* of Italy has banned plastic water bottles - the Cinque Terre (Five Lands) scenic region on the country's northwest coastline. Cinque Terre is recognized on the Unesco World Heritage list of environmental and cultural conservation sites, and the Italians want to keep it that way.

They say that tourists leave behind THOUSANDS of plastic water bottles that topple from the steep terrain and end up on their limited beach space (....and most certainly contribute to the yet-to-be quantified Mediterranean Garbage Gyre) - so the have banned plastic water bottles from the region and have gone so far as to offer low cost one litre metal bottles for just one Euro - complete with the Cinque Terre National Park logo. Nice!

If you've ever actually been to Italy (well, at least the southern part), you may ask "Oh, they finally noticed the trash that is strewn everywhere without regard to aesthetics or environmental health?"...but the Italians estimate that in August alone (when ALL Europeans go on holiday...usually to the warm beaches of Italy), the CT area is trashed by as many as 400,000 (400,000!!!) carelessly discarded plastic water bottles. That's a lot of frikkin' bottles by anyone's count.

Nice move - setting the pace for the rest of the world's special areas! Read more about the savvy move in the UK Telegraph.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

LA Polystyrene Ban: Game ON!

Jeez - maybe the ACC has run out of lobby money? ...or maybe the county of LA is tired of cleaning up single-use plastics? Either way, the County of Los Angeles has initiated a -partial- styrofoam cup and food-container ban, eliminating these dodgy and hazardous scourges from "most county buildings and concessions". THAT is the best news we've heard all week. All month!

This move marks the beginning of a yearlong period of study, in which the county administrators will assess the impact of this kind of reduction in useless, poisonous instant trash. the end of the test period, they shall ask themselves things like, "are we OK without them?", "has the municipality saved zillions of taxpayer dollars in not having to clean them out of our storm drains, our streets, our parks, our beaches and our otherwise beautiful California countryside?", and (I hope they don't leave this Q out) "ain't life grand without that crap?". yes, Yes, YES!

This came outta nowhere (at least for us here at the RAP News Desk), and you can read all about it in the LA Times.

Let the joy begin!

Let Them Drink Bubbles

Paris wants to reduce plastic bottle use. Will they Ban the Bottle? Non! They will dispense carbonated water at public fountains to redirect sparkling water fans toward refilling reusable bottles. How refreshing and au courant! Get this: the Italians have been doing it for years, grazziverymuch.

Read about it in the Guardian UK and the NYTimes.

Could something like that happen in the USA? Fat chance, Pierre - the portly plastics and bottled-water lobbyists would bums-rush our capital and execute a full-court press on our impre$$ionable politicians. "OH, THE JOB LOSSES!","TAX-PAYER BOONDOGGLE!"...ZZZZzzzzz...

Riiiiight...those Frogs are on to something!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bagless in Brownsville

WOW! Texas leaves California in the dust...along with all of the discarded plastic shipping bags accumulating and swirling around there in that dust heap of a state!

Brownsville, TX has banned single-use plastic shopping bags...AND...will charge shoppers a one dollar fee if they forget to bring bags and have to use plastic. Yo no comprendo how a shopper can be charged for being issued a plastic bag if there is a bag ban in effect, but they've got it all figured out there in B-ville and the whole shebang goes into effect in January 2011. OOOWweeeee-dawggies!

See the news video and/or read the story here - and note that they refer to Brownsville as the "first city in the [Rio Grande] valley to ban plastic bags" - which, to my hopeful mind translates to, "and the rest will soon follow!".

Imagine that, progressive, sad, old California digging out from under the blizzard of plastics industry lobby money, wondering what just happened to AB 1998, while Texas is KICKING A** and TAKING INITIALS (they don't have time for names, duuude - they're busy saving the planet!!)!!

As the saying goes, DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sailors Sink SUP Bottles!

Ahoy, and splice the main brace, RAPsters!!

This brief, welcome and unsolicited message arrived at the Surfrider HQ offices this week from the Intercollegiate Sailing Association (ICSA)operative (co-captain of the Christopher Newport Univ Varsity Sailing Team & a Mid-Atlantic ICSA Southern Rep) Maxwell J. Plarr:

"As a sailor, surfer, and a person who loves the water I thought you guys should know that the ICSA, the governing body of ALL college sailing in the United States, passed legislation banning the use of plastic water bottles at our regattas to cut back on waste. In the past this has been a HUGE issue trying to protect our environment and I thought it would be really cool to let you guys know that we are doing are part to make our oceans cleaner. Sail Fast, Surf Often!"

According to their news release for this announcement, this smart change will amount to an estimated annual reduction of over 25,000 (twenty-five THOUSAND!) single-use plastic water bottles. Working with sailing environmentalists Sailors For The Sea, and metal bottle-maker, KleanKanteen, this is going to be an easy, fun and forward-thinking transition. BRAVO, Maties!!

...and who says that "True sailing is dead"? P-shawwwwww!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Amazon Fights Clamshells

Monday shortie: we all hate those insipid plastic "clamshells" entombing many of our, mainly electronic, purchases - well Amazon says that they want to reduce it for several reasons, one of them environmental.

Intended mainly as a way to keep theiving shoppers from pocketing tiny valuable items from store shelves - and inadvertently causing major frustration on the consumer that's trying to open the package w/o destroying the item itself (what do they care - they already have your $$$) - well, the lat time it checked, Amazon didn't have store shelves and it has put the word to its suppliers to nix the clams.

Nice name for a campaign, "NIX THE CLAMS!" (they are actually calling it the Anti-"wrap rage" campaign), and reportedly, Fisher-Price, and Mattel are already on board - read about it here.

Happy Monday!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Samoa Bans the Bag!

If you haven't heard (it's been a busy month!), on August 27th Samoa banned single-use plastic bags. This island group, another inadvertent dumping spot of ocean gyre-based plastic trash, has decided to end the possibility that it can be a source of this kind of pollution.

Thoughtful consideration by the locals brought this to bear. Can you imagine that? A place in the world perhaps free from lobbyists? Regardless, a hard-working local government representative, Taotasi Archie Soliai has been driving the effort for the ban for four solid years - that is dedication. Soliai's respect for Samoa's limited environmental paradise kept him at it until the law was eventually signed.

Even local businessmen see the movement as a "small price to pay" for the eventual rewards that an action like this will garner. If we could only get corporations to toe that line - truly a paradise...a world where all players find value in protecting the environment - versus protecting the "bottom line"? NICE!

The ban kicks in in late February next year... The locals are also cognizant of the overall impact of paper bags as well, and overall urge increased use of reusable bags. Read about it all in Samoa News, and in the Huffington Post.

Have a great weekend - and dont forget to leave all extraneous product packaging at the check-out stand if you go shopping this weekend!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Let's Do the Numbers...

Further refining our analysis of the recently-failed California single-use plastic shopping bag "ban", AB 1998 - let's take a deeper look in to the blizzard of money falling into the hands of the legislators, as put there by the plastics lobby:

South Carolina plastic bag manufacturer, Hilex Poly Co. gave $10,000 to the California Democratic State Central Committee on Aug. 5. On Aug 6th, Exxon gave the Republican Party $10,000, building on other donations it has piled up in California this summer.

Tim Shestek, the American Chemistry Council's state and local public affairs director, calls it “building relationships and support". Borrowing a line from a popular California bumpersticker, Tourist Go Home.

Making more per$onalized/targetted “contribution$” to our local $tate legi$lator$ over the $ummer as they contemplated thi$ bill, Hilex, Exxon, and the ACC (American Chemistry Council, the PR arm of the plastic$ industry) gave the maximum per-election direct donation of $3,900 to, some and more/less to others:

Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, $3900 (voted...?)
Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel, $3900 (voted NO)
Curren Price, D-Inglewood, $3900 (voted NO)
Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, $3900 (voted NO)
Lois Wolk, D-Davis, $2,500 (voted NO)
Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, $1,500 (low-balled, and voted YES!)
Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, $4500 (voted...?)
Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, $3000 (voted NO)

Total: $47,100that we know of… Pretty cheap dates overall. Out-of-state businesses making contributions to California-local state senators. Think about that a minute.

The Sacramento Bee article detailing these transactions goes on to quote $enator Loi$ Wolk: "People are dealing and wheeling - There is a great deal of push on both sides." $he claim$ that her vote, had “nothing to do with contributions – at least it doesn't with me." Ooooh my...she's a $lippery one! Her simple, flippant use of the term "dealing and wheeling" gives great insight into the lobbying process.

Looking at the list, that’s EIGHT VOTES – enough to turn the outcome over in favor of the bill, ya think? We couldn’t have counted on all of them, so no tears shed there – but I, for one, bristle at the thought of greaseball out-of-staters greasing the palms of local electeds for consideration.

Either way, that’s what we’re up against in these fights…the greasers and greaseesLobbying...or Lubing - you make the call!

Stay tuned for good news tomorrow on a similar front...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

See Ya In Court!

Well, what can ya say. California’s bag ban effort fell short. Looking at it another way, after a week of perspective, I have concluded that some politicians are just stupid. [REVELATION!] “Stupid” is a harsh word, yes, but Forest Gump reminded us that “Stupid is that stupid does.” Which, defined, means “a person is judged ‘stupid’ by the stupid acts (s)he commits”. And well, just follow the logic…and the actions.

…or maybe it could be just plain old selfish ignorance – for instance, my local senator kept asking us, “what will I use to pick up my dog droppings with if single-use plastic shopping bags are banned?”. So, to her, her dog’s feces were more important than unsightly, and at times, deadly plastic pollution strewn across her district and beyond. Go figure…or go fetch?

Here are the elected California senator yayhoos who lack both thinking caps & vision for the future, and/or are on the lobbyist gravy-train (these senators voted against the bag ban):

Aanestad, Ashburn, Calderon, Cogdill,
Correa, Denham, Ducheny, Dutton,
Emmerson, Florez, Harman, Hollingsworth,
Huff, Negrete, McLeod, Price,
Runner, Walters, Wolk, Wright,
Romero, & Wyland

Some Senators are greedy and vote with an eye to fattening their wallets. Note that self-bepuffed Senator Lois Wolk (D-Sacramento) spoke out against the bill on the floor AND was one of the Senators that the Sacramento Bee exposed as taking money from the ACC. Read the Sac Bee article that fingers the other California State Senators caught feeding their portly jowls and wallets at the plastics industry’s lobbyist money-tree. BUSTED!

…and then there are the SMART SENATORS, with VISION and CONCERN. These are the ones that could see the value in preserving our environment for future generations, who are not swayed by money-grubbin’ lobbyists, and who should be praised for their thoughtful “YES!” votes on AB1998 (note that the State Assembly is jammed with smarties too, as they passed the bill before it ever went to the Senate):

Alquist, Cedillo, Corbett, DeSaulnier,
Hancock, Kehoe, Leno, Liu,
Lowenthal, Padilla, Pavley, Simitian,
Steinberg, Yee, AND Schwartzenegger
(said he’d pass it!)

Please contact these senators and thank them for voting YES ON AB 1998!

So it’s back to the courts – a much simpler prospect, now that Santa Monica has published their EIR required by CEQA, to show that banning bags won’t hurt the environment more than keeping them around to litter our landscapes & oceans, and kill our wildlife. Back to the plan of each municipality forging their own bag bans. Like I said, SEE YA IN COURT!

More good news in the wake of AB 1998 – 1) the greater awareness about the plastic plague problem has motivated many California cities to go forward with local bans, 2) that raised awareness has blanketed the world, and other countries continue to BAN THE BAG, 3) our Clean Seas Coalition has grown stronger and more organized and are ready for the next fight!

Also, it's now time to schedule your showing of BagIt, a new indy film all about single-use plastics and in particular, the devil incarnate: single-use plastic shopping bags. Surfrider has been granted rights to show this award-winning film, so contact your local Surfrider chapter and see about show times!

This last item is for my local California State Senator – maybe I was too harsh, perhaps it is actually her dog that is the dumb one. I mean really, smart dogs clean up after themselves…Ms. Senator, please show this image to your dog and tell him to get with the program!

Have a single-use bag-less week!!