BARRINGTON, R.I. (AP) — Answering the question ‘paper or plastic’ could get a lot easier in one Rhode Island town if local leaders support a call to ban plastic shopping bags.
Hundreds of residents and more than a dozen business owners in Barrington are pushing to scrap the sacks, which they say take up valuable landfill space and litter streets, streams and shorelines. But critics — including an alliance of plastic bag manufacturers — say prohibiting the ubiquitous bags would only reduce consumers’ options while doing nothing to help the environment.
The Barrington Town Council voted on Monday to direct the town’s solicitor to draft a proposed ban. The move follows a recommendation by the town’s Conservation Commission to prohibit plastic shopping bags to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bag. Under that recommendation, shoppers could also purchase paper bags for 5 cents each.
“It wouldn’t be a big deal to me,” said Linda Alves, who was shopping for home office supplies Wednesday in Barrington, an affluent town 20 minutes from Providence. Alves opened the trunk of her car and pulled out two reusable bags. “I have so many of these things, who needs the plastic?”
San Francisco was the first U.S. city to ban plastic shopping bags back in 2007. Several cities have followed, including Los Angeles and Seattle. The bags are banned throughout Hawaii. Westport, Conn. is the only New England community with such a ban.
“It’s a matter of changing habits, and that’s not always easy,” said Jonathan Cunitz, a member of Westport’s Representative Town Meeting and an advocate for the ban, which went into effect in 2009. “But people are now more conscious of the environment and we don’t see plastic bags on the street or on our waterfront.”
But an organization founded by plastics manufacturers to fight proposed bans argues that outlawing the bags could threaten more than 30,000 plastic bag manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Donna Dempsey, spokeswoman for the Washington D.C.-based American Progressive Bag Alliance, said the plastic bag has gotten a bad rap.
Here at MantraMeds, our scrubs are made from recycled plastic but we like to emphasize that making our planet a more sustainable place means practicing all 3 R’s: Reducing, Reusing & Recycling. Here is a great article from HuffPost Green on reducing use of plastic on all your fresh summer produce!
I started shopping at my farmers market this summer. I’ve noticed people putting fruits and vegetables directly in their totes, without taking the plastic bags some vendors offer. But how do you keep produce fresh in the fridge without the plastic?
Not long ago, I asked myself that same question. I had recently invested in a large set of organic cotton reusable produce bags, and while I was feeling mighty proud of myself each time I ventured out to the market (look how eco-friendly I am! Who needs those wasteful plastic produce bags?), the scene in my fridge a few days later was less than pretty.
Stored in plastic, fruits and vegetables would have normally stayed fresh for at least a week. But left in my new reusable bags, all my beautiful produce fast turned into a wilted, spoiled mess. (Even the “crisper” bin seemed to do just the opposite, no matter what the setting.)
I’ve written before about the enormous environmental implications of wasted food; needless to say, my cloth produce bags were not coming close to offsetting the yearly 34 million tons of food waste to which I was now contributing.
But obviously, there were reasons to avoid the plastic bags, too (wildlife-destroying pollution, needless oil consumption, endocrine-disrupting chemicals). They also didn’t seem necessary: After all, plastic produce bags only came into being in the 1960s; plastic grocery bags, a decade later. There had to be a way to keep my fruits and veggies fresh without them.
Enter Beth Terry. As author of the blog My Plastic-free Life and the recently released book Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too, Terry knows how to keep everything from persimmons to parsnips fresh with nary a plastic bag in sight: She’s lived plastic free (and not just in the produce department) since 2007.
Terry’s storage methods come largely from Ecology Center Farmers’ Markets in Berkeley, CA, which createdthis guide on how to store more than 60 kinds of fruits and vegetables. But being the plastic-free pro that she is, Terry of course had some suggestions to add. With her help, I’ve created a condensed version for you that includes her input, below.
*Note: While the Ecology Center guide occasionally calls for paper products, Terry tries to limit these; she opts for cloth bags or plastic-free reusable containers instead. (“While plastic is truly problematic, all single-use disposable bags and wrappers have an environmental footprint,” she says.) She suggests a variety of different bags and containers on her site.
This is a guest post from Tom Szaky, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of TerraCycle, which provides free waste collection, and then turns that waste into sustainable products. View our previous post about TerraCycle here: http://mantrameds.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/terracycle-outsmart-waste/
Widely quoted estimates suggest that 90% of the ‘stuff’ we buy is discarded within 6 months of purchase. What’s worse is that 10% of this “stuff” ends up going to some type of waste-to-energy facility, while the remaining 90% of America’s waste ends up in a landfill.
With over 360 million Americans and counting producing on average about 4 pounds of waste a day, it is clear that our recycling systems need to be expanded to accept a wider range of materials, and fast. Worse yet, even commonly recyclable packaging formats such as PET and HDPE plastic bottles are only recycled at an estimated (and paltry) 25%.
Making recycling make sense
Variation in recycling programs, unclear labeling, and inaccurate recyclability claims make proper recycling a challenge. The How2Recycle Label was created to provide consistent and transparent on-package recycling information to consumers.
We created a special version of the label for plastic bags and films that are accepted primarily at retail stores with plastic bags. For more information, see plasticbagrecycling.org.
Earth 911 is a great resource for everyone from diehard recycling enthusiasts to people who are just considering recycling. This search option allows you to find a facility near you that will recycle anything under the sun! Just look at all the different types of plastic you can recycle. Go to http://search.earth911.com/ to see for yourself!
As you may know, MantraMeds scrubs are cut from a blend of Texas Organic Cotton & Repreve Recycled Polyester, which comes from recycled post-consumer plastics! Found a great website that can serve as an awesome resource for information and trends in recycling plastics. Check it out!
Many community recycling programs are accepting more and more plastics*—and you may be surprised to learn how many types of plastic packaging can be recycled into new, useful products!
- Beverage bottles made with polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic are collected in most curbside programs. This plastic is often melted, stretched into a fine thread, and then woven into soft, durable fabrics used to make things such as clothing, upholstery, and carpeting. (Tip: it’s okay to leave the caps on the bottles; they’ll be removed and processed separately at the recycling facility.)
- Detergent and cleaning product bottles are usually made with high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a strong, corrosion-resistant plastic. It is often recycled into outdoor furniture and other durable products such as plastic lumber, park benches, roadside curbs, truck cargo liners, trash receptacles—and new bottles. (Tip: rinse your bottles with water before tossing them in the recycling bin to remove remnants of the detergent or cleaning product.)
- Plastic bags are often made with HDPE or low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic. These bags are collected at many chain grocery stores and large retailers, including Target, Walmart and Lowe’s. Plastic bags generally are recycled into plastic lumber for decks, fences and furniture – and into new plastic bags. (Tip: before recycling bags, be sure they are free of food remnants, and remove any zipper closures. Plastic wraps from drycleaners, newspapers, and many consumer products can be collected with plastic bags.)
- Plastic containers for products such as yogurt, cottage cheese, and margarine are now collected in many curbside programs. They are often made with polypropylene (PP) plastic that is recycled into things such as battery cables, landscape borders, cafeteria trays, and furniture. (Tip: some grocery store chains [e.g., Whole Foods] also collect these containers).
- Plastic foam used to make packaging often is made with polystyrene (PS) plastic that has been expanded with air. Innovative recycling programs can turn foam packaging into insulation, picture frames, building products—and new packaging. (Tip: some shipping companies, such as UPS, accept polystyrene foam packing peanuts for re-use.)
When you consider all the different types of new products that can be made with post-consumer plastics, it’s easy to see why they are such valuable materials. Getting the whole family involved in collecting plastics around the house is a great way to make sure this resource doesn’t go to waste. So recycle these and other everyday products—every day.
* Recycling programs differ greatly; check to see what can be recycled in your community.
Check out these other great articles by Plastics Make it Possible:
How to Store Vegetables & Fruit Without Plastic
So you’ve got all these great fruits and vegetables and now we’re going to help you keep them at their freshest with these tips. These tips are from the Berkley Farmer’s Market which is a Zero Waste market! Here is a printable PDF of their original tip sheet. In the works here at Washington’s Green Grocer is a switch from plastic bags (although we use as few as we can get away with, while still keeping your produce from getting battered on it’s way to you) to only recyclable paper and reuseable cloth bags!
HOW TO STORE VEGETABLES WITHOUT PLASTIC
Artichokes‐ place in an airtight container sealed, with light moisture.
Asparagus‐ place them loosely in a glass or bowl upright with water at room temperature. (Will keep for a week outside the fridge)
Avocados‐ place in a paper bag at room temp. To speed up their ripening‐ place an apple in the bag with them.
Arugula‐ arugula, like lettuce, should not stay wet! Dunk in cold water and spin or lay flat to dry. Place dry arugula in an open container, wrapped with a dry towel to absorb any extra moisture.
Basil‐ is difficult to store well. Basil does not like the cold, or to be wet for that matter. The best method here is an airtight container/jar loosely packed with a small damp piece of paper inside‐left out on a cool counter.
Beans, shelling‐ open container in the fridge, eat ASAP. Some recommend freezing them if not going to eat right away
Beets‐ cut the tops off to keep beets firm, (be sure to keep the greens!)by leaving any top on root vegetables draws moisture from the root, making them loose flavor and firmness. Beets should be washed and kept in and open container with a wet towel on top.
Beet greens‐ place in an airtight container with a little moisture.
Broccoli‐ place in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge.
Drink in these hip tees made of recycled bottles
Bottles have an extended shelf life—a closet shelf. Greenville-based Earthspun Apparel found a way to make t-shirts from high-quality, ring-spun yarns produced with recycled polyester fibers, made from plastic bottles, discarded X-Ray film, and recycled cotton, to produce 100-percent-recycled apparel.
The green, brown, blue, and grey shirt colors are the actual bottle colors, not dyes, and include Soda Pop Green, Beer Bottle Brown, Water Bottle Blue, and X-Ray Grey. A black tee made from recycled food trays will be available soon.
To start the process, plastic bottles recycled by consumers are brought to local recycling centers and sorted by color. The bottles are converted into fibers that are blended with recycled cotton and spun into yarn used to create the t-shirt fabric, which feels soft and natural. One Earthspun t-shirt saves about six plastic bottles from the landfill.
The t-shirts are made of 65-percent-recycled polyester and 35-percent-recycled cotton. “Sustainability is important to us, and the ability to eliminate production steps and use waste to create our t-shirts saves energy, conserves natural resources, and diverts waste from landfills,” says Earthspun partner Jerry Wheeler. We’ll drink to that. More information at earthspunapparel.com
What’s the deal with BPA-free? We all see the stickers plastered on loads of new products from baby bottles to sippy cups to canned goods. These are obviously an attempt to allay the fears of consumers who’ve caught wind of the BPA nightmare and are looking for a safe alternative. But is that alternative really safe?
earthspun® apparel is innovation
At earthspun® apparel our fabrics are made with superior quality, American ring spun yarns and a unique blend of recycled polyester (RPET) and recycled cotton.
The result? Unbelievably soft, durable, earth friendly tee-shirts.
By eliminating chemical dyes and the dyeing process, we save the water and energy normally used to make tee-shirts.
At earthspun® apparel, this is just another way we are doing our part to create a better planet.
Discover the earthspun® apparel difference (more…)
From organic cotton to Fairtrade fabric recent years have seen the high street making an effort to go green. But is it all it’s cracked up to be? Sella Oneko investigates
The high street is going green, or at least it seems to be. With organic cotton, recycled fabric and natural dyes making their way into the likes of H&M and Marks & Spencer, preserving the planet is becoming part of mainstream fashion. But could it all be too good to be true? After all, whether it’s poor working conditions or chemical dyes, critics are always having a go at the fashion industry. And the impact of fast fashion on the environment can’t be denied. From the vast amount of water and pesticides used in cotton production to the carbon footprint of transporting garments from China or Bangladesh, the high street and saving the planet don’t always go hand-in-hand.
90 per cent of clothing in the UK is imported, mainly from countries such as India and China. According to DEFRA we buy about two million tonnes of clothes every year, one fifth of which is bought from fast fashion brands such as Primark. Just to top that off, one million tonnes of clothes are thrown away every year, with 50 percent of the total ending up in a landfill. But with Primark’s profits down, consumers seem to be moving away from ultra-cheap, single-season garments. And with greater emphasis being placed on ethics and planet-friendliness by consumers, the high street is finally starting to respond. (more…)
I don’t remember a time in my 35 years aboard Earth when there was as much going on as there seems to be going on today. (‘Today’ as in the past couple of months or so.) Between quakes and tsunamis, unrest in the Middle East, schizoid politics in America, Twitter as a tool for revolution, Bee Colony Collapse, Justin Bieber, nuclear meltdowns and the like, it seems as though an old issue like non-biodegradables in our world’s oceans is hardly relevant and or worthy of coverage in this moment-to-moment, ‘Info-tainment’ era that we live in.
As a surfer, I am interested in the ocean. And I am concerned and interested in all of these natural and cultural rumblings underfoot as well. But the thing that occupies my mind most vividly is this issue of Sustainability. Sustainability in every sense of the word. I actually believe ‘Sustainability’, as a concept, is one of the arteries leading to the heart of so many of our cultural transitions at play today. And it’s this concept which leads me to bottled water, and its multibillion dollar industry. (more…)
It is purportedly a creature that inhabits forests, mainly in the medial region of the United States. A majority of scientists discount the existence of the cage-free lifestyle in the modern world and consider it to be a combination of folklore, misidentification, and hoax rather than a legitimate profession, in part because some estimate the large numbers necessary to maintain a caring and responsible health care provider population.
A small minority of accredited researchers such as the esteemed Jerry Wheeler and Professor Jack Miller have expressed interest and possible belief that the creature truly does exist. They even go so far as to say they wear nothing except organic cotton and recycled plastic bottles!
Nevertheless, the cage-free lifestyle remains one of the more famous and controversial examples of a mystery within the health care field. Truly fascinating…and enduring.. and sustainable…