Posted on Categories Sustainable LivingTags , , , ,

Op-Ed: Upset about the plastic crisis? Stop trying so hard

Roland Geyer, THE GUARDIAN

Did you ever decide to get off a jammed freeway and take the backroads even though deep down you knew that it wouldn’t be any faster? Are you constantly switching to the faster lane on a busy freeway even though you notice that cars sticking to their lanes keep catching up with you?

Both are examples of action bias, the phenomenon in which people prefer doing something over doing nothing, even if the likely outcome of the action is worse than the outcome of inaction. Research has shown that actively managed portfolios tend to do worse than passive investments. And one study found that soccer goalkeepers prefer to jump left or right during a penalty-kick, even though the best thing would be to stay put in the middle.

A prime case study of how action bias gets in the way of solving environmental problems is plastic in the oceans. The discovery of the so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch alerted the world to the issue of plastic marine debris. It turned out to be everywhere, not just in that specific patch or any of the other large circulating ocean currents known as gyres. In fact, there is growing consensus that only a minute fraction of all ocean plastic is on the surface, and that the vast majority is probably on the ocean floor. This has not stopped a growing number of ocean plastic action heroes from wanting to clean up the gyres.

The best known of them, The Ocean Cleanup, last year launched a 2,000ft-long boom, made of plastic, to gather plastic in the North Pacific Gyre. Unfortunately, the boom didn’t work, broke apart and had to be towed back onshore. Even if we also somehow figured out how to vacuum plastics from the ocean floor, these technologies would not stop new plastic from constantly entering the oceans.

The cheapest and most effective solution to ocean plastic is strangely also the one that is least talked about.

It is this: making and using less plastic.

Virtually everyone I know is genuinely upset about plastic pollution in the oceans, and at parties I am routinely cornered in the kitchen with questions about which of the myriad of single-use plastic items on open display can be recycled, and whether they actually will be recycled if thrown into the recycling bin.

Yet while people put enormous effort and hope into recycling, they don’t give source reduction much thought at all. The west used to send much of its recycling to China for processing, and China’s recent decision to no longer accept it because of environmental concerns has sparked an intense debate about how to fix our obviously broken recycling system. It would be so much easier and more effective to make and use less, and thus reduce our need to recycle in the first place.

Read more at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/23/upset-about-the-plastic-crisis-stop-trying-so-hard

Posted on Categories Sustainable LivingTags , , , , , ,

California wages war on plastic

Rosanna Xia, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES

It took years of activist campaigns to turn the plastic bag into a villain, and hard-fought legislation to reduce its presence in oceans and waterways. Now, environmentalists and lawmakers are deploying similar tactics against a new generation of plastic pollutants.

There are drinking straws, which as a viral video shows can get stuck in a sea turtle’s nose. The hundreds of thousands of bottle caps that wind up on beaches. And the microfibers that wash off polyester clothes, making their way into the ocean, the stomachs of marine life and ultimately our seafood.

Each is the subject of statewide legislation under debate in Sacramento, as California again considers new environmental law that’s at once pioneering and controversial.

Their action comes as plastic takes center stage as the environmental concern du jour.
There could be more plastic by weight than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050, according to a widely cited World Economic Forum report. A recent UC Davis study sampled seafood sold at local markets in Half Moon Bay and found that one-quarter of fish and one-third of shellfish contained plastic debris.

Read more at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-california-plastic-pollution-20180528-story.html

Posted on Categories Sonoma Coast, Sustainable Living, WildlifeTags , ,

Deciphering California's (intentionally) confusing plastic bag propositions

Richard Frank, LEGAL PLANET

If you’re a registered California voter who supports implementation of California’s statewide ban on single-use plastic bags without further delay, vote Yes on Proposition 67 and No on Proposition 65.

California’s longstanding efforts to eliminate single-use plastic bags from the marketplace and the environment have finally reached California voters.
The November 8th general election ballot contains a breathtaking 17 separate propositions–16 proposed initiative measures and one referendum measure.   Propositions 65 and 67 both deal with the same subject–a proposed ban on single-sue plastic bags.  Those dueling measures are confusing–intentionally so.
To understand those measures and the political intrigue involved, a bit of background is required.  For years, environmental organizations have lobbied to ban ubiquitous single-use plastic bags from grocery, drug and convenience stores, because so many of the non-biodegradable bags wind up in landfills, or worse.  They clog sewers and sewage treatment plants, and form a particularly noxious threat to the ocean environment.  They often entangle (“entrain”) fish, seabirds and marine mammals, and contribute to the massive plastic “dead zones” that have formed in the Pacific Ocean and other marine environments.
Read more at: Of Initiative Wars, Plastic Bags and Poison Pills | Legal Planet

Posted on Categories Sonoma Coast, Sustainable Living, Water, WildlifeTags , , Leave a comment on Californians must show their resolve on plastic-bag ban

Californians must show their resolve on plastic-bag ban

Editorial: LOS ANGELES TIMES
Reducing air pollution, conserving water, combating climate change and preserving open space all require sacrifice, and in many cases they also require battles with entrenched industries whose interests are at odds with environmental goals. If Californians can’t manage to ban single-use plastic bags — taking on the industry that manufactures them and accepting the minor inconvenience involved — it doesn’t speak well of the state’s ability to confront the bigger environmental challenges that lie ahead.
Readers may be forgiven for believing that this issue has already been addressed: A statewide plastic-bag ban passed last year was set to take effect this July. But by spending more than $3 million, the bag manufacturers have managed to have that law put on hold — and have placed a new measure on the November 2016 ballot to reverse it.
No surprise there; pay enough signature-gatherers and almost anything can be placed before voters. In future months, voters can expect an onslaught of advertising aimed at persuading them that the plastic-bag ban is a tax — which it’s not — and that the industry would face massive job losses without the bags. It won’t.
In future months, voters can expect an onslaught of advertising aimed at persuading them that the industry would face massive job losses without the bags. It won’t.
Voters must remember the reasons for banning the bags. Before any municipal bans were in place, the bags were ubiquitous, creating tens of thousands of tons of trash each year in this state alone. They’re still the second most-common form of garbage on our beaches, and from there — and through our storm drains — they find their way into the ocean, into the stomachs of marine animals and into giant patches of soupy, plastic garbage. Only 5% of the bags are recycled.
Read more via Californians must show their resolve on plastic-bag ban – LA Times.

Posted on Categories Sustainable Living, WaterTags , Leave a comment on Makers of plastic bags gather signatures to overturn ban

Makers of plastic bags gather signatures to overturn ban

Peter Fimrite, SFGATE.COM

The bag backlash has been sweeping across the country mainly because the billion disposable plastic shopping bags a year that are thrown away find their way into storm drains, creeks and rivers that flow into the ocean. Scientists have documented a giant floating patch of plastic and other debris twice the size of Texas that has accumulated in an area of the Pacific Ocean known as the North Pacific Gyre.

Plastics manufacturers and their supporters announced Monday that they have collected enough signatures to put California’s plastic-bag ban up for a vote, a move that would extend the saber-rattling over the landmark law for at least another year.
Opponents of the law banning single-use plastic bags — which is supposed to go into effect July 1 — collected more than 800,000 signatures when they needed only 504,760 to qualify for a referendum, according to representatives of the trade group American Progressive Bag Alliance.
Read more via Makers of plastic bags gather signatures to overturn ban – SFGate.

Posted on Categories Sustainable LivingTags , Leave a comment on Plastic bag-ban supporters complain referendum drive is misleading

Plastic bag-ban supporters complain referendum drive is misleading

Patrick McGreevy, LOS ANGELES TIMES
Supporters of a state ban on single-use plastic grocery bags filed a complaint Monday, calling for the secretary of state to investigate allegations that opponents seeking to overturn the measure are misleading voters to get them to sign petitions that would place the matter on the ballot.
Gov. Jerry Brown in September signed the legislation that requires grocery stores and pharmacies to stop dispensing single-use plastic bags in July and instead offer paper and reusable plastic bags, and charge at least 10 cents each for those alternatives.
The bag-makers group, the American Progressive Bag Alliance, is seeking to overturn the law, arguing it will not improve the environment but will enrich stores charging 10 cents for alternative bags.
The bag makers face a Dec. 29 deadline to file 504,760 signatures in order to qualify a referendum that would put the new law on hold until Californians can vote on the measure in November 2016.
In a written complaint, the group California vs. Big Plastic, which supports the law and opposes the drive for the referendum, said that several voters were misled by signature gatherers who told them they needed to sign the petitions to save the law or to make it statewide or nationwide. The law would take effect statewide in July if the referendum does not qualify.
Read more via Plastic bag-ban supporters complain referendum drive is misleading – LA Times.

Posted on Categories Sustainable LivingTags , Leave a comment on California plastic bag ban signed, setting off sweeping changes

California plastic bag ban signed, setting off sweeping changes

Jeremy B. White, THE SACRAMENTO BEE
Time to invest in a reusable shopping bag.
Concluding the long odyssey of one of the most contentious bills of 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed legislation phasing out the single-use plastic bags that grocery stores and other retailers use to package products at the checkout line. Brown’s assent hands a sweeping victory to environmentalists and vindicates the scores of cities and counties that have already banned bags.
“This bill is a step in the right direction – it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” Brown wrote in a signing message. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”
Minutes after Brown announced signing the bill, an industry group called the American Progressive Bag Alliance vowed to begin collecting signatures in an effort to overturn the law via a referendum on the 2016 ballot.
Read more via California plastic bag ban signed, setting off sweeping changes – Capitol Alert – The Sacramento Bee.

Posted on Categories Sustainable LivingTags Leave a comment on California legislature passes first US plastic bag ban

California legislature passes first US plastic bag ban

David Siders, THE SACRAMENTO BEE

California lawmakers narrowly approved a sweeping plastic bag ban Friday, leaving Gov. Jerry Brown to decide the fate of the controversial bill in an election year.

The ban, the subject of years of debate, was one of the most heavily lobbied issues in the final days of the legislative session, with back-and-forth votes this week. The Senate approved the measure 22-15 on Friday.

The measure could be politically difficult for Brown, a longtime champion of environmental causes but a relatively moderate Democrat, especially on issues of concern to business.

In addition to banning lightweight plastic bags from grocery stores, the bill would have customers pay at least a dime for a paper or reusable plastic bag.

via California plastic bag ban heads to Jerry Brown – Capitol Alert – The Sacramento Bee.

Posted on Categories Sustainable LivingTags , Leave a comment on Bring your own bags – county's plastic bag ban starts today

Bring your own bags – county's plastic bag ban starts today

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma County’s ban on single-use plastic bags goes into effect today, but shoppers may face a mixed bag of policies until enforcement begins September 1.

Some retailers who publicly supported the ban, such as Oliver’s Markets, are embracing the ban and Friday will stop offering customers plastic bags and start charging them 10 cents per paper bag.

“We lobbied for this law we believe in it, so we’re going to move forward and comply with the law fully,” said Tom Scott, general manager of Oliver’s, which has two stores in Santa Rosa and one in Cotati.

Others like G&G Market are planning to work through their inventory of existing plastic bags and hold off charging shoppers for paper bags as long as possible.

via County's plastic bag ban starts Friday | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Sustainable LivingTags , Leave a comment on Sonoma County BANS Plastic Bags starting March 21, 2014

Sonoma County BANS Plastic Bags starting March 21, 2014

SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE

The Board of Directors of the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency, a Joint Powers Authority composed of the Cities of Cloverdale, Cotati, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, and Sonoma; the Town of Windsor; and the County of Sonoma, voted unanimously today to adopt an ordinance to reduce carryout bag waste throughout Sonoma County.

“This ordinance will cause a dramatic decrease in the estimated 258 million plastic carryout bags used throughout Sonoma County annually,” said Henry Mikus, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency.  The ordinance is effective on March 21, 2014, and retailers are encouraged to phase out their existing stock of plastic carryout bags as soon as possible, but enforcement will not begin until September 1, 2014.  The ordinance will be effective countywide unless a member jurisdiction formally opts out of the ordinance.

This carryout bag waste reduction ordinance prohibits retail establishments (excluding public eating establishments and nonprofit charitable reusers, as defined by the ordinance) from providing customers with plastic carryout bags at the point of sale or other departure point. 

Bags exempt from this ordinance include plastic bags without handles

(1) to transport produce, bulk food or meat from a produce, bulk food or meat department within a store to the point of sale;

(2) bags used to hold prescription medication dispensed from a pharmacy; or

(3) bags used to segregate food or merchandise that could damage or contaminate other food or merchandise when placed together in a reusable or recycled paper bag. 

Paper bags made of at least 40% post consumer recycled content may be provided to customers for a minimum charge of $0.10 per bag.  Reusable bags, as defined by the Ordinance, may also be provided to customers. 

Retail establishments will be required to maintain accurate records of the number of recycled-content paper bags purchased and sold for a minimum of three years.  Violation of the carryout bag waste reduction ordinance would be an infraction, subject to fine, as defined by the administrative penalties ordinance.

Please visit http://www.recyclenow.org/reduce/carryout_bag_reduction.asp for more information.

via Sonoma County BANS Plastic Bags starting March 21, 2014.