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Barrington, RI Plastic Bag Ban Considered


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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.


Eco Etiquette: How Do I Store Produce Without Plastic?

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 pollutionneedless oil consumptionendocrine-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.


Will You Join the ‘Food Revolution’?

MantraMeds is big on sustainability. One of the most pressing issues today is our out-of-whack eating habits. Jamie Oliver has started a Food Revolution – bringing healthier eating to communities & schools across America & the UK. Will you Join the ‘Food Revolution’?

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day Aims To Inspire ‘Better Food, Better Life’

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He’s a chef, author, restaurateur and TV personality who has launched a food revolution, bringing healthier eating to communities, schools and homes across America and his native U.K.

Now Jamie Oliver has created Food Revolution Day, “a global day of action for people to think about where their food comes from and get back into their kitchens,” that will take place May 19.

“There are so many incredible people working on this issue, so we wanted to provide a platform for anyone with skills and knowledge around food — chefs, gardeners, food bloggers, food educators, etc. — to offer experiences/events (classes, seminars, tours, sessions) to kick start a real food movement in their community. They can go to the website and create a local food event and it will be in our global event listings for the public to attend. It can be an event for five people or for 50, and the more creative the better. We hope that this will inspire future projects at a grassroots level and connect neighbors who can support each other in standing up for real food,” Oliver says. “The other way that people can get involved is to host their own dinner party. There will be people in over 45 countries around the world hosting their own dinner parties in support of food education.”

For Oliver, who sums up his food philosophy as “Better food, better life,” has made it his life’s mission “to get people to eat real food, made from scratch. I believe — and research has shown — that by eating a diet of real food (meats and vegetables, carbohydrates and the occasional treat) that you cook for yourself and your family will make you a healthier person. When I look around the world at the rising rates ofobesity and diet-related disease, I am saddened and angered because this is entirely preventable. People just need food education and a few cooking skills.”

He’s proud that his television programs and campaign initiatives have produced tangible results and inspired people to make changes in their lives.

“After ‘Jamie’s School Dinners’ aired in the U.K., the people petitioned the government to serve better food to our children and they actually listened and voted more than $500 million into the system. In America, after the ‘Food Revolution’ aired, we inspired people to petition against flavored milk and pink slime in our schools, which not only got the USDA to change the regulations around flavored milk, but led fast-food companies and grocery stores to stop selling pink slime.”

Although he encountered bureaucratic red tape and resistance while making “Food Revolution,” he nevertheless considers it a win. “Just getting the ‘Food Revolution’ series on national prime time television was an accomplishment, but then to have the entire town of Huntington [West Virginia] transform and getting Los Angeles on the journey is a huge deal. We’ve started a national dialog around food issues that many more people in America are participating in part because of exposure to our shows and campaigns. And winning an Emmy was pretty cool, too.”

Currently, Oliver is running a restaurant empire that includes “Three Fifteens, one Barbecoa next to St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, two Union Jacks with Chris Bianco, and 31 Jamie’s Italians, which I hope to bring to the USA at some point.” His latest print effort is the U.S. version of “Jamie’s Great Britain,” due out in October. “It is my love letter to British food, and I am hoping after everyone falls in love with the country after the Summer Olympics that they will want to give the food a try too,” he says.

As a father of four, Oliver keeps the food he serves at home and at his restaurants local, sustainable and impeccably sourced. “A lot of what we eat at home comes straight from the garden so that helps, particularly from this time of year right through until Christmas when there’s plenty to harvest. As for the restaurants, we source everything very carefully so we know all about the food provenance. We go to all the farms to check on the animal welfare and we always use higher welfare chicken, for example.”

Looking ahead, he plans to “keep doing what I’m doing, raising my family, writing books, making telly, and making noise around issues that I believe in,” Oliver says. He has a simple solution for improving the food situation, and it starts with us. “Demand better,” he says. “More fresh, less processed. More access to good fresh food and food education so that the lovely people at home actually know what to do with a fresh vegetable.”

Get inspired: Learn about others who are making a difference with MNN’sInnovation Generation project.

National Parks Week 2012

National Parks Week 2012: MapQuest Launches Web-Based Parks Travel Guide (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

View full article, photos & videos at Huff Post Green:

National Parks Week 2012 is April 21 to 29, and the National Park Service is celebrating by granting free admission to all 397 national parks.

This year, MapQuest launched a web-based guide to national parks to coincide with the week-long celebration of the United States’ natural and cultural wonders. The guide currently includes overviews of 58 major destinations, plus information on popular activities, wildlife and park history. Select park entries also include eye-catching video featuring commentary by park rangers (such as the one about Yellowstone featured below), and the panoramic photography of QT Luong.

Luong, a preeminent landscape photographer with a career spanning more than 25 years, uses his camera to “celebrate the splendor and variety of the natural and human heritage,” according to his website. Once an “avid mountaineer and climber,” Luong has photographed every single national park.

Scroll down to browse some of Luong’s most breathtaking panoramas.

The first national park, Yellowstone, was founded before the United States had seen its hundredth birthday. In the face of unchecked 19th century capitalism, which sought to exploit resources with little regard for the environment, a nascent conservation movement led by naturalists like John Muir led the charge to preserve and protect America’s natural wonders.

The movement gained momentum into the 20th century, and more parks were established. Philanthropists like John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and other private citizens took up the cause. During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps built improvements to the park system’s infrastructure, employing 2.5 million young men during its nine-year existence.

In 2011, a looming government shutdown threatened to close national parks and other units managed by the National Park Service, which is an agency of the United States Department of the Interior. The potential shutdown, which was ultimately averted, sprung from a budgetary face-off between the Obama White House and congressional Republicans.

MapQuest is owned by AOL, Inc., which also owns The Huffington Post

Valentine’s Day Gifts: Cheap, Last-Minute Ideas That Are Green(ish)

This Valentine’s Day, MantraMeds encourages you to get creative and go green. Since the mind tends to clam up under pressure, here are some refreshing ideas to get your juices flowing! Here’s an article with some very interesting gestures that are thoughtful, easy, affordable, and GREEN! Although we wouldn’t recommend going out today and buying a pet for your loved one (idea no. 8), we do like the idea of signing up for classes (idea no. 9). Whether it’s salsa dancing or wine tasting, what better way to grow closer this February than to learn a new trade with your significant other! Read on…

Lost your calendar with “Valentine’s Day” circled in red sharpie? Forgot that February 14 signifies more than just the middle marker of a really short, cold month?

It’s that time of year again, and the day is upon us that makes single people cringe and couples sweat. If you’re one of the latter, have no fear. There’s still time to get a meaningful, inexpensive, and relatively eco-friendly Valentine’s Day gift for that special someone.

An estimated one billion Valentine’s Day cards will be purchased this year — which means that just under the estimated one billion will ultimately wind up in the trash. Over 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are sold along with over a hundred million roses. It’s time to cut down on the waste and the cost of Valentine’s Day.

We’ve got some old tips from years past, some new tips, some borrowed tips … but nothing that’ll make your loved one feel blue, because these are all green(ish).

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