Bag It Again News and Comment

Some news stories from around the world about the environment and sustainable living.
Tags >> environment

California Coastal Cleanup Day

Posted by: johnny_a in MyBlog

Tagged in: Plastic Bags , environment

SAN FRANCISCOSept. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- California's beaches and inner waterways may be collecting spots for marine debris, but Californians have demonstrated their support for clean beaches by turning out by the tens of thousands at the 26th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day. They scoured beaches, shorelines, and inland locations, picking up trash and debris this morning, covering over 800 sites and gathering hundreds of tons of trash. These volunteers took part in the California Coastal Commission's 26th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day, part of the International Coastal Cleanup organized by Ocean Conservancy. Beach, inland waterway, and community cleanups took place up and down the California coast, from Mexico to the Oregon border, around San Francisco Bay, and at sites as far inland as Lake Tahoe and the Salton Sea.

With 70% of the cleanup sites reporting:

To Go?

Posted by: johnny_a in MyBlog

Tagged in: Recycling , Plastic Bags , environment , economy

The Highland Park News reported yesterday on a public hearing over a proposed citywide ban on plastic foam packaging and single use plastic bags.  Local restaurant and retail owners spoke out, claiming that such a law would place undue economic hardship on their businesses. 

Claiming that (unspecified) "alternative" packaging would cost three times more than current materials, one restaurant owner stated "I'm afraid if we raise our prices we're just going to drive people to the bordering communities where (those restaurants) don't have these pass-through expenses."  Other opponents said that any new required containers would create the same litter problems, and advocated for better recycling programs.

Last week, I twice watched inventor Saul Griffith's lecture on "Climate Change Recalculated". For about an hour and a half, Griffith speaks in concise, non-political terms on the amount of energy that is required for us to continue to live at the 'quality of life' that we enjoy today, and how we cannot sustain this existence through the burning of fossil fuels. If we continue on our current course, we'll head dangerously past acceptable limits of carbon in the atmosphere in about 40 years. His talk includes a monologue on the staggering amount of non-carbon emitting energy sources we must manufacture over the next 25 years in order to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Griffith's seminar is a product of his desire to calculate his own personal energy consumption in extreme detail, which he did for the full year of 2007. We see a pie chart that shows how much energy is used to fulfill every aspect of his 2007 life, including the embodied energy in his "stuff", his dietary habits, and his auto and jet travel. Wishing to trim down from an 18,000 to a 2,200 watt (the world average) lifestyle, we see the impact of the 200 or so watts that are used to produce the plastic bottle that holds his 20 ounces of flavored water.

In an effort to reduce emissions and help motorists save money on fuel, the United Kingdom's Department for Transport has begun advising new drivers on fuel saving driving techniques.  Examiners will provide candidates with feedback on how green their driving is during their practical driving tests, without any impact on their pass/fail status.

"To help the next generation of motorists drive in a way that is better for their wallets and the environment, the driving test will now assess how successfully they follow fuel efficient and eco-safe driving advice," said Transport Minister Jim Fitzpatrick.  "Common-sense changes can make for major improvements. Drivers can save around a month's worth of fuel each year by taking simple steps, like ensuring their tyres are correctly pumped up, changing gear earlier to keep revs low and avoiding carrying unnecessary clutter in the boot (trunk)."

Since 2005, the Department for Transport has included tips on greener driving in official learning materials. In the same year it became part of the practical test for driving instructors.

Source: Department for Transport

Northern Ethanol, a company with its sights set on becoming a production leader of corn-based biofuel in Canada and the Eastern U.S., has agreed to acquire a 70 acre site from Praxair, Inc in Niagara Falls. The company plans to build it's first of three U.S. and Canadian based ethanol production facilities on the site.

Northern Ethanol plans to produce 400 million liters (105.6 US gallons) per year at the plant. The company believes that the plant's proximity to the Central Canadian and North Eastern US markets will provide them with significant competitive advantages over other ethanol producers, who must incur the costs of delivering ethanol from significant distances.

The Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), the state-owned corporation responsible for the trade of alcoholic beverages in the Canadian province of Quebec, moved ahead today with its plan to charge customers for single-use bags in its outlets. Customers who now ask for a paper or plastic single-use bag will have to pay five cents for a one-bottle bag, ten cents for a two-bottle bag, and fifteen cents for a four-bottle bag.

According to SAQ, in a press release dated August 28, this measure marks the beginning of a transition phase that will prepare its customers for the total elimination of single-use bags in January 2009. SAQ adds that proceeds from the sale of the bags will be donated to an organization that works in the field of sustainable development.

Thumbs Up: Frank Sousa

Posted by: johnny_a in MyBlog

Outdoor sports columnist Frank Sousa wrote this pointed column about the United States' falling behind third world countries regarding policies on plastic shopping bags. It turns out that we are behind Bangladesh and Botswana, both of which have plastic bag bans in effect.

What I like about this piece is that it's honest and from the heart. Sousa helps us see that we don't need statistics, scientific data on the degradable properties of plastic bags, or politics to just know when we are doing something that benefits our Earth.

The Incredible (?) Plastic Bag

Posted by: johnny_a in MyBlog

Stephen Joseph, counsel for, provides his counterpoints to a proposed 25 cent fee for all plastic and paper bags used by consumers in the state of California in his op-ed piece in today's LA Times.

I've never heard of the fact that plastic bags don't decompose in the landfills referred to as "a blessing", but Joseph manages to work it into this article. This is a rather comical statement coming from one that accuses his opponents on the issue of spreading "misinformation".

Those 99 cent reusable shopping bags that you can buy in the supermarkets and big-box stores look nice with their brightly-colored "fabric". They're also a great impulse buy, positioned right at the checkout lines.

Sure, reusing these non-woven polypropylene (plastic) bags is better than taking the filmy plastic bags and throwing them out right away. But what's going to happen when they get torn up by the kids or family dog, break, or just plain get thrown out?

Skype BagItAgain!