The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: Legislation and Politics

October 24, 2008

I voted today!

Didn’t want to leave it to chance. What if I get hit by a Prius between now and election day and can’t vote? So I turned in my absentee ballot at the Oakland courthouse on Fallon Street today.

Do you know who you’re voting for? If you’re an absentee voter, why not turn in your ballot now? And if not, you can still vote early in most states and avoid the lines on election day.

Fake Plastic Fish is not a partisan blog. And taking care of the environment is not a partisan issue. Still, I want to tell you that I voted for Barack Obama and got a real lump in my throat as I marked my ballot. This election year has been like no other since I’ve been alive, and I feel privileged to be part of it.

Agree with me or disagree. We all have our opinions. Regardless of who you’re voting for, why not join Ruchi’s Armchair Activists and send letters to both candidates asking them to make environmental protection one of their highest priorities,… Read the rest

August 15, 2008

Oh goody! BPA in my mailbox!

I received the following gem in my home mailbox last week:

The American Chemistry Council is bringing out the big guns and trying to frighten Californians into opposing the state’s proposed ban on Bisphenol-A (an additive in polycarbonate plastic and in the plastic lining of most food cans) in containers and canned foods meant for babies and toddlers.

The industry’s scare tactics include the following language, “Soon, many common, everyday products could disappear from grocery store shelves across California,” and “Your favorite Products May Soon Disappear.” The brochure urges recipients to call their Assembly Member and ask them to vote no on SB1713.

The brochure shows photos of women shoppers looking at various products they’ve picked up from the shelves. Only one of these products is a can. The other two appear to be boxes, which wouldn’t contain BPA in the first place. AND none of … Read the rest

July 30, 2008

Calling Californians – Please take a minute to support plastic bag legislation!

Hi all. Last week, I got an email from Californians Against Waste urging me to send a letter in support of AB 2058, the California bill to protect the environment from plastic bag pollution. I wrote and faxed my letter last week and didn’t even think of forwarding the request here. Duh! Here’s a copy of the letter I sent, which is partially copied from the sample that CAW sent me.

This afternoon, I received an email from my friend Benn at Chicobags urging bloggers to spread the word. So this is me doing just that! Here’s the letter from Benn. Please follow the links to either send your own letter or use the form on the Heal The Bay web site provided. It will only take a few minutes. This is important legislation and necessary, since the plastic bag industry has taken legal action against towns like Oakland and Fairfax that have tried to pass their own bag bans.

Action Alert: Please consider sharing this important plastic bag news with others… Read the rest

January 29, 2008

Oakland Bag Ban + Send a note to Zip Car!

Here are my friend Nancy, a poor seagull, and I at the Oakland plastic bag ban press conference on the steps of City Hall this morning. (I’ve got to do something about my hair soon! I’m starting to look like one of the Partridge Family boys.) It was a beautiful, sunny day: a reprieve from all the rain we’ve been having.

I thought ABC 7’s coverage of the press conference was disappointing.  They really seem to focus on the plastics industry’s arguments against the ban rather than on promoters’ arguments for it. And reusable bags barely get mentioned at all. Oh well.

On the bright side, businesses such as Whole Foods and City Car Share had representatives who spoke in favor of the ban today. Whole Foods, as you’ve probably already heard, is set to eliminate plastic bags in all of its stores by Earth Day this year.

And City Car Share has begun including reusable bags in all of its cars as a service to members. What… Read the rest

November 24, 2007

What’s wrong with this picture?

Out for a nice stroll, buying nothing yesterday, Michael and I were dismayed to see Telegraph Avenue lined with plastic bags full of brown leaves. What’s wrong with that? Everything!

Our city councilwoman, Jane Brunner, has been working on getting more trees planted along our streets. Do more trees mean more garbage for the landfill? This beautiful compostable material gets sealed up in a plastic bag to mummify with the rest of the garbage instead of being returned to the soil to nourish new trees? If that’s the case, someone’s not using their noggin.

I’m going to call the city on Monday and get to the bottom of this. Oakland ought to be handing out compostable leaf bags and hauling them to our commercial composter. Well, I rescued one bagful for my personal compost. Any other Oaklanders could do the same. Even if you don’t have your own composter, you could free the leaves from the plastic and empty them into your green… Read the rest

October 11, 2007

Still thinking outside the bottle…

I was there outside Oakland City Hall Wednesday morning to kick off the nationwide “Think Outside The Bottle” campaign. Similar press conferences were being held in other cities around the U.S. at the same time. Here are excerpts from the San Francisco Chronicle article that appeared today, supplemented with photos from my camera:

Bay Area water fight: bottled vs. tap Christopher Heredia, Chronicle Staff Writer

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bottled water, bad. Tap water, good.

That was the message that tap-water advocates delivered on the steps of Oakland City Hall on Wednesday as part of a nationwide campaign to persuade cities, consumers and restaurants to dump bottled water in favor of old-fashioned municipal water.

Not only is bottled water more expensive, said a group of local government leaders and officials for Corporate Accountability International, the nonprofit sponsoring the campaign, but it often comes from the… Read the rest

September 20, 2007

Mixed Messages – Assemblywoman Hancock’s Forum on the Health of San Francisco Bay

Last night, I attended a public meeting called “Troubled Waters: A Forum on the Health of the San Francisco Bay.” Along with Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, who presented the forum, the panel consisted of Harold Gilliam, a journalist; David Lewis, the executive director of Save The Bay; Shin-Roei Lee, chief of the SF Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board’s South Bay division; and Dejal Choksi, staff attorney for Baykeeper. They presented information about sources of pollution in the bay, the largest of which is urban runoff, which brings huge quantities of wildlife-harming plastic trash, motor oil, pesticides, and other contaminants into our waterways. A Water Board pilot study found an average of three pieces of trash along every foot of Bay Area streams.

While I appreciated the thought that went into presenting these speakers to us, I was more struck by the irony of what I saw when I first stepped through the auditorium … Read the rest

July 5, 2007

It’s official: Oakland bans plastic bags

Good news reported in yesterday’s Oakland Tribune:

The Oakland City Council Tuesday banned petroleum-based nonbiodegradable shopping bags in an effort to reduce the amount of waste Oakland sends to landfills and prevent the plastic bags from polluting the environment.

The ban would apply to stores with gross annual sales of more than $1million, which would include all supermarkets and chain drug stores.

However, the measure would not apply to restaurants or fast food eateries.

“It’s a good first small step,” said Councilmember Patricia Kernighan (Grand Lake-Chinatown). “It’s not going to solve all of the problems in the world.”

The new law does not apply to the sacks provided by grocery stores to bag fresh fruit and vegetables or meat, only those bags shoppers get at the check stand.

So, this ban does not address the problem of all the plastic bags used for bulk foods at stores like Berkeley Bowl.… Read the rest

July 3, 2007

Uganda bans plastic bags, promotes banana leaves

Sun 1 Jul 2007, 13:24 GMT

KAMPALA, July 1 (Reuters) – A ban on plastic bags in Uganda took effect on Sunday to cut down the stinking piles of rubbish that litter its dusty capital and other urban areas, breeding germs and poisoning water supplies.

Officials want Ugandans to instead use banana leaves, the traditional material for carrying goods.

Uganda’s ban followed a similar one on Tanzania’s Zanzibar islands last year. There have also been moves in both Kenya and mainland Tanzania to raise duties on plastic bags, which dot Africa’s urban and rural landscapes with depressing regularity.

Ugandan Finance Minister Ezra Suruma announced the ban on “buveera” — polythene bags in the local Luganda dialect — during his budget speech last month in the east African nation.

“Due to serious environmental concerns and the difficulties in the disposal of polythene bags and plastic containers,… Read the rest

June 30, 2007

Plastic Bag Ban in Oakland? Letter to Jane Brunner

From the San Francisco Chronicle, June 27, 2007:

A measure to ban plastic bags from grocery stores and other large retailers in Oakland was unanimously passed by a key City Council committee Tuesday.

The measure, which is very similar to a ban adopted in San Francisco, will be sent on to the full council next week and if approved will take effect in August.

I’m not just keeping my fingers crossed. Here’s my letter to my city councilmember, Jane Brunner today:

Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2007 14:46:11 -0700 (PDT) From: “Beth Terry” Subject: plastic recycling in Oakland To: “Jane Brunner” <>

Dear Councilmember Brunner,

I have 2 reasons for writing:

1) I read in the San Francisco Chronicle that on Tuesday an Oakland City Council committee unanimously passed a measure to ban plastic bags from grocery stores and other large retailers. The article says that the measure will be sent on to the… Read the rest