11/09/2016 Update: Six years after this post was written, California has FINALLY banned plastic bags across the state!
I’m pissed off. I live in a city, like many others in California, that wants to ban plastic shopping bags, but we can’t. Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, and other California cities are under attack by the plastics industry. None of these cities has been able to put their plastic bag bans into effect because of industry deep pockets that have successfully sued to require each city to conduct an environmental impact report (EIR) showing that banning plastic bags would not have a detrimental impact.
Our cities cannot afford to spend $150,000 to $200,000 each to conduct EIRs. That’s why nothing has come of Oakland’s bag ban or any of the others. My city can’t afford to keep enough cops on the streets (just ask Michael, who got mugged several months ago right across from our house),… Read the rest
Sharing Tim Minchin's Bring Your Canvas Bags video, Werner Herzog's Life of a Plastic Bag video, and Annie Leonard's The Story of Bottled Water.
OMG. You won’t believe what happened Friday. I still don’t believe it myself. Here’s the story.
After hassling with Valley Yellow Pages (not to be confused with AT&T Yellow Pages) last year to be taken off their automatic delivery list, I was finally assured that I would no longer receive their unwanted plastic-bagged phone books. So you can imagine how irritated I was when a new one showed up on my doorstep last week.
Immediately, I sent the following caustic email. I was irritated and probably hormonal. I usually prefer to catch my flies with sugar, despite being a mosquito in their bedrooms. But hey, no one’s perfect.… Read the rest
It’s a new week, and I’m ready to talk trash. One of the most common questions I get about plastic-free living is what I do for garbage bags. And the second most common question is what to line our waste cans with if plastic grocery bags are banned.
Here’s my short answer: We don’t line our trash can with any plastic bags at all.
The longer answer is that since we make almost zero trash, and the trash we do make is dry, we don’t have any need for bags to collect it.
… Read the rest
How to buy and store bread without any plastic bag. Plastic bag clips are dangerous. Bake your own bread or buy it fresh and store in cloth bag in metal tin.
Dianna Cohen is a painter, but she doesn’t use a paint brush. Trained at UCLA, she gave up the brush for materials most people consider trash: bags, boxes, little pieces of plastic. This year, she helped to found the Plastic Pollution Coalition. After twenty years, she finally started to get the messages from her own art. During my weekend in L.A., Dianna put me up in her art studio. I got to live with her artwork for three days and pick up a few messages myself.
Over lunch, Dianna explained to me about her art process and her passion for protecting the environment. While in college, she became intrigued with the different shades of brown paper bags and began creating collages, stitching them together with a needle and thread. One of my favorite pieces is this beautiful abstract piece made with cardboard boxes:
Her interest in plastic bags arose at a homeopathic shop in Belgium that provided the bags with colorful flowers printed on them. Dianna … Read the rest
I’m so happy I could cry! This morning, I was all set to write about my meeting yesterday with one of my personal heroes, Colin Beavan, the No Impact Man. But checking my email, I found the following message from Bianca Pardini of my local Temescal Farmer’s Market:
from: Bianca Pardini <email@example.com>
to: Beth Terry
date: Wed, Sep 2, 2009 at 8:50 AM
subject: Plastic Bag Ban
I thought you’d be interested in knowing that starting October 1st, 2009 plastic bags will be banned from all Urban Village Farmers’ Markets (Temescal included). With the encouragement from customers like you and the advice and support from the people at The Ecology Center, we are hoping this will be a smooth transition. Please see the attached letter. Hope all is well.
[09/18/09 Note: The bag ban has been pushed back to January 1, 2010 to allow the market and vendors more time to prepare.]
Urban Village Farmers’… Read the rest
There’s a new trend in the Bay Area: Farmer’s Markets going plastic-free. But we still have a long way to go, and the vendors need to know we care.
Back up: Two years ago, I wrote the post, “Plastic Farmers Market“, about all the plastic bags and packaging at our local Temescal farmers market here in North Oakland. Shortly afterwards, I got involved with Green Sangha’s Rethinking Plastics campaign, whose members table at local farmers markets, handing out cloth bags and encouraging patrons to bring their own.
To be clear: I’m not talking about reusable grocery totes and baskets. Most of the folks here in the Bay Area are conscientious about bringing those bags. The problem is that they then proceed to fill up their canvas totes with multiple plastic produce bags. Green Sangha’s mission has been two-fold: encouraging shoppers to bring their own cloth produce bags (or skip putting larger items into separate… Read the rest
Way back in October, my friend Doug sent me a Clothesnik canvas garment bag to try out. I finally had a chance to use it last week. We haven’t taken clothes to the cleaners since July of last year! Unfortunately, it took a while to find a green cleaner that would actually use the bag. More on that later. First, I want to tell you about the Clothesnik.
The Clothesnik is a 100% cotton garment bag and laundry bag in one. Toss dirty clothes into it and tie up the bag using the strings at the bottom. Or use it clean as a garment bag to replace the disposable plastic bags the cleaners give out. If you don’t want to pay for the laundry service to clean the Clothesnik bag, wash it at home and return with it to pick up the clean clothes. Or don’t use it as a laundry bag. There are just so many options.
Our problem was finding a cleaner to use it correctly in the first place. A while back I wrote about green cleaner Blue Sky, which uses CO2 to clean clothes, one of the… Read the rest
My friend Eli Saddler from OceanHealth.org wants you to make this a plastic-free Valentine’s Day in 2009. Here are some tips from The FaceBook event he created:
Show your love for that special someone in your life and the ocean on this Valentine’s Day.
Love the Ocean, Use Less Plastic:
1. Bring your reusable bag when you go shopping and/or say “no” when offered a plastic bag.
2. Pick a non-plastic gift to show your love. Really, is plastic the way to say, “I love you”?
3. How about wrapping your gift in a reusable shopping bag?
4. If you live near the ocean, take the time to visit and have a romantic walk on the beach, go surfing, go wildlife watching, or just to watch the sun set. Maybe even take a couple of minutes to pick up some marine debris while you’re there or to even join a beach cleanup that weekend (check your local Surfrider for info: www.surfrider.org).
5. If you go out to dinner, remember to order only … Read the rest