The San Francisco Green Festival was somewhat of a sanctuary after my dismal visit to the bay on Friday. It was huge, HUGE! I went intending to browse and gather information. I ended up with a backpack and tote bag full of stuff but almost zero plastic. (I’ll tell you about the one bit of plastic I’ll be sending back at the end of this post.)
Anyway, after walking a couple of miles to the festival from the wharf, I was starving and headed directly for the food court, where I was happy to see that all the offerings were organic, the tableware was compostable, and the water was piped into a water station rather than served in plastic bottles. I had a tasty veggie wrap and salad from Back to Earth Organic Caterers and filled up my own Klean Kanteen at the water station. Instead of taking their disposable napkins and compostable cutlery, I used my own cloth napkin and To-Go-Ware utensils.
I was also heartened to see many waste stations at convenient intervals… Read the rest
By now, everyone has heard about the terrible oil spill in the San Francisco Bay last week. Friday, I stopped at the wharf on my way to the Green Festival, to see for myself. The smell was terrible. Like walking into a chemical factory, except it was outside! Oil floated on top of the water instead of ducks. And the boat that hit the Bay Bridge was still anchored out there like a bad dog tied to a stake. Here are a few of the photos I took on Friday:
And here’s a little irony:
Those who would like to help with the cleanup can sign up at SF Baykeeper. Just one more reason that we need to discontinue our dependence on oil, including oil used to make plastics.… Read the rest
Read 12/20/2007 update to this post here.
Sorry to go all Charlton Heston on you. It’s just that, based on several blog posts I’ve read, a lot of people seem to think that Evert Fresh green produce bags are plastic-free, and they are absolutely not. After calling the company several times a week for over a month to try to reach the owner, Lynn Everts, I finally received the information I needed today from his assistant, Tyra. She told me that the bags are indeed made from low density polyethylene (the same type of plastic in disposable grocery bags) combined with a special clay called oya which helps to keep produce fresher longer.
I have no doubt that these bags work. But I find it ironic that we would choose to purchase an ultimately disposable plastic bag (these bags can be reused up to 8 times) made from a material that lasts forever in the environment in order to preserve something that is completely biodegradable. Personally, I’d… Read the rest
Last month, in my Green Sangha meeting, we were discussing how hard it can be to have compassion for people who just don’t seem to care about the planet and how easy it can be to feel self-righteous. I piped up and said that I don’t really understand how people change, how they go from not noticing or caring about waste and environmental degradation to waking up and realizing what effect their actions have. I don’t understand because up until June of this year, I myself was one of those people who bought and threw away hundreds of plastic water bottles, chose plastic bags over paper (and doubled them on purpose), and stocked up on frozen foods in their cute little plastic containers. And then something happened, I had a realization, and suddenly I couldn’t go back.
The thing is, I’m not really sure just what that something was. I’ve tried to remember my first “aha!” moment, what it felt like, where I was.… Read the rest
Friday morning, I took another field trip, this time to California Waste Solutions, the company that picks up the recycling in my section of Oakland. Justin Johnson, CWS Commercial Accounts Manager, was my tour guide.
If you’ll recall, during my trip to the Davis Street Transfer Station, the Waste Management sorting machines were inoperable as a result of being jammed up by plastic sheeting and hoses. The CWS machines, on the other hand, were moving along just fine. Here’s a little video of one of the machines in operation:
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zswP5W2y-AE
Unlike Waste Management, which makes money not only from its recycling operation but also from its huge landfill, CWS’s business is 100% recycling. Therefore, it has more of a stake in recovering as much material from the waste stream as possible. Materials are sorted multiple times, taking them from this:
through the sorting process:
to the … Read the rest
A lot of plastic hides in objects that many people don’t realize contain plastic: plastic that coats and lines cartons and cans and caps and lids. Plastic that can’t be separated from the material it’s attached to. Here’s a rundown of some of them.
Paper milk cartons are lined with two layers of polyethylene, inside and out. Many people are under the mistaken belief that these cartons are waxed. In fact, although the original paperboard milk cartons were coated with paraffin wax, they haven’t contained wax since the 40’s when polyethylene became the waterproofing material of choice.
Here is a diagram of how they are made, directly from Elopak’s web site.
The point is that if it’s made from paper these days, and it holds liquids, it’s generally going to be coated with plastic. As far as I know, there’s no ice cream container that’s not coated with a petroleum-based plastic,… Read the rest