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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.


Renewable Energy Water Use May Be Higher Than Conventional Methods

(Gerard Wynn is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own.)
By Gerard Wynn
LONDON, March 15 (Reuters) – Countries struggling to plot a greener energy mix face the extra headache of water scarcity from drought, squeezing their options as they look to cut carbon emissions and source locally.
Energy choices are still wide open, from hydrogen to wind power and clean coal, in electricity generation and road transport.
Yet accounting for water, to allow for climate change and concerns that energy demand compounds water scarcity, forces tradeoffs.
For example, policymakers seeking more secure supplies of liquid transport fuels find that both tar sands and biofuels use more water than conventional gasoline – estimates put corn ethanol at 100 or 1,000 times more.
And in a tradeoff with cutting carbon emissions, the unproven technology of carbon capture and storage could cut CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants by 90 percent, but increase water consumption by the same amount.

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London Olympics Go For Green Gold

From Mother Nature Network’s Josh Lew (via HuffPost Green)

In 2010, Vancouver set a high standard forenvironmentally friendly Olympics with sustainability initiatives launched in conjunction with the Winter Games. Now, London’s Olympic organizers have an ambitious plan to host the “first truly sustainable” games later this year. That’s a bold goal, considering all the other tasks and issues that go with being the host of the world’s highest-profile sporting event. Most athletes will have a few minutes or even a few seconds in the spotlight this summer, but London will be on camera for nearly three weeks, with the user-friendliness of its venues, basic services for visitors and event security under the media microscope.

Some of the planned green features, like a giant wind turbine, have already been scrapped, and the unforgiving British media have brought the environmental commitment of the games’ organizers into question. However, green-minded London visitors will be able to appreciate the green features that are definitely going to be a part of the 2012 Olympic experience.

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Green Tax Write-Offs To Remember This Season

 From Earth911’s Alexis Petru:

With April’s tax deadline quickly approaching, don’t forget that many purchases you made last year to benefit the environment and your wallet may also qualify for a tax break. Whether you bought a plug-in hybrid, made home energy efficiency retrofits or donated to an environmental charity, check out Earth911’s guide to 2011’s green tax incentives.

List and captions courtesy of Earth911

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