10 cents to less waste

For seven years, a bag tax has been blowing around City Hall.

On Monday, a group of City Council members, environmental groups and fifth graders from Brooklyn New School and P.S. 34 rallied in front of City Hall to urge passage of the tax by April 22nd, Earth Day.

The law would require retail and grocery stores to charge 10 cents for every plastic and paper bag used, or face fines of $250 for the first violation, and $500 for subsequent offenses. If the bill passes, enforcement would begin in January of 2016.

“We want to help everyone in the city make an easy shift to reusable bags.” Margaret Chin said on the steps of City Hall.  She is joined by fellow council members Brad Lander, Donovan Richards, and Public Advocate Letitia James, who all support speedy passage of the bill.

Councilmember Antonio Reynoso, chairman of the Sanitation Committee, said that plastic bags are “an absolute nightmare” for the sanitation system.  Maite Quinn, a representative from Sim’s Recycling, the company which New York City contracts for curbside recycling echoed the point: “We have literally millions of dollars of equipment for the sole purpose of getting plastic bags away from the recyclables that we want.”  She said that in addition to presenting “a range of challenges” at the facility, including clogging recycling machinery and contaminating otherwise recyclable materials, the bags present a particular hardship because there is virtually no market for them. The millions of dollars dedicated to the process of isolating and cleaning used plastic bags, makes a product called MRF film that is essentially useless. “We haven’t had one consistent customer, and that customer is usually at zero price,” she said.

Critics of the bill think the fee is a burden for low-income New Yorkers.

The bill promises to distribute reusable bags.  The ban the bag coalition has already given out thousands of reusable bags around the city, and is prepared to distribute more.  Lander said, “Any New Yorker can reach out to the coalition. We will get New Yorkers the bags they need in order to comply with this law and avoid paying the fee.”

“Plastic bags might pollute the air and we may never see the sun again,” warned one fifth grader.  The adorable kid in the photo below made a sign of bags in trees that says, This isn’t natural.


How You Can Help:

  • Plastic bags can be recycled, but not at curbside.  They can and should be brought back to retail stores. Most NYC supermarkets have bag recycling bins by the front door.
  • Let your council members know how you feel. Find them at   http://council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml
  • Get in the habit of using reusable bags, put them in convenient places so you have them when and where you need them.
  • Many tiny, weightless reusable bags are available. flip and tumble makes reusable produce bags in sets of 5 from Amazon.com  (Not sure what they are made of though)
  • Inspired by the name given to the one use plastic bag, the kids made their own reusable bags out of T-shirts. You can too!  http://www.instructables.com/id/No-Sew-10-Minute-T-Shirt-Tote/
  • There are so many cool videos, especially for kids, that can be shared with your social media networks or shown at schools and organizations.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vIeyooLfSc
  • Click on and support Ban the Bag.  Their efforts have all ready kept 210 million bags out of the system in Portland and Washington DC alone! http://www.banthebagspdx.com

Until next week,

The planet will Thank You!

The planet will Thank You!

Garbage Girl






plastic-bag-flying1Look in our trees, streets, gutters, blowing down the sidewalk and through the air.  Plastic bags are the most wasteful product ever made, used for 12 minutes and lasting upto 500 years, NYers use a staggering 10 billion of them a year and pay $4.5 million dealing with them.



Rally To Stop New York City Plastic Bag Pollution!

NYC City Hall Park (Broadway, Park Row and Chambers St) 

This Monday, March 23rd, 12pm

Join 70 organizations and 100s of concerned citizens at City Hall Park to tell Mayor Bill de Blaso and The New York City Council to impose a fee on carryout bags by this Earth Day, April 22

Organized by Stiv J. Wilson, The Story of Stuff’s Campaign Director.  His rallies across the country have lead to real victories in Portland, OR, Chicago, IL, San Francisco, CA, Seattle, WA.

The U.S. lags behind 12 countries to address this ecological disaster. Only 7% of single-use plastic bags are disposed of properly.  Most are not biodegrade. Instead, they photodegrade with sunlight, breaking into smaller and smaller pieces becoming part of the food chain.

A Short History of the Plastic Bag

1933 Polyethylene is discovered by scientists at Imperial Chemical Industries, a British company.
1950 Global plastic production is less than 2 million metric tons.
1965 Sten Thulin’s 1962 invention of the T-shirt bag, (the common single-use plastic shopping bag) is patented by Swedish company Celloplast.
1976 Mobil Oil introduces the plastic bag to the U.S.   The bags are red, white, and blue for the U.S. Bicentennial.
1982 Safeway and Kroger, two of the biggest U.S. grocery chains, switch from paper to plastic bags.
1986 Plastic bags account for 80% of the market in Europe, with paper as the remaining 20%. In the United States,  paper is 80% and plastic is 20%.
June 1986 The General Federation of Women’s Clubs starts a letter writing campaign to grocers stating the negative environmental effects of plastic bags.
Late 1980s Plastic bag usage catches up to paper in U.S.
1989 Maine passes a law to only hand out plastic bags if requested, replaced in 1991 by statewide recycling.
1990 The island of Nantucket, MA bans retail plastic bags.
1994 Denmark begins taxing retailers for plastic bags.
1996 4 of every 5 grocery bags used in the US are plastic.
1997 Captain Charles Moore finds the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where plastic outweighs zooplankton 6 to 1, drawing global attention to plastics in our oceans.
2000 Mumbai, India bans plastic bags.
2002 Global plastics’ produces 200 million metric tons.
March 2002 Ireland becomes the first country to tax consumers’ use of plastic bags directly.
March 2002 Bangladesh becomes the first country to ban plastic bags. Bags were blamed for exacerbating flooding.
2006 Industry complaints and legal issues make Italy’s efforts to ban plastic bags ongoing.
April 2007 San Francisco is the first U.S. city to ban plastic grocery bags, expanding to retailers and restaurants.
2007-2008 The American Chemistry Council spends $5.7 million lobbying in Ca. to oppose regulations on plastic bags.
June 2008 China bans plastic bags before the Beijing Olympics.
September 2008 Rwanda passes a national ban on plastic bags.
2009 Discarded plastics overtake paper as the number one discarded material in the U.S. waste stream.
July 2009 Hong Kong’s levy on plastic grocery bags takes effect and is later expanded to all retailers.
August 2009 The American Chemistry Council finances Seattle’s defeat to impose a 20ȼ fee on paper and plastic bags
December 2009 Madison, Wisconsin mandates that households recycle plastic bags rather than disposing of them.
January 2010 Washington, D.C., requires food and alcohol stores to charge 5ȼ for plastic and paper checkout bags.
2010 Bag producer, Hilex Poly, spends over $1 million to  oppose a statewide plastic bag ban in California.
2010 Plastic bags appear in the Guinness World Records as the world’s “most ubiquitous consumer item.”
October 2011 Portland, Oregon bans plastic bags at major grocery stores and certain big-box stores.
May 2012 Honolulu County approves a ban completing the state-wide ban in Hawaii.
July 2012 Seattle’s plastic bag ban takes effect nearly three years after the first tax attempt failed.
March 2013 A bag ban takes effect in Austin, TX.
September-October 2013 Ocean Conservancy Coastal Cleanup picked up more than 1 million plastic bags from the world’s waterways.
January 2014 Los Angeles is the largest U.S. city to ban plastic bags.
April 2014 The European Parliament backs new rules to cut plastic bag use 50% by 2017 and 80% percent by 2019.
April 2014 132 city and county plastic bag bans or fee ordinances cover over 20 million people in the United States.
Source: Compiled by Earth Policy Institute, www.earth-policy.org,

How You Can Help:

  • Make signs for the rally with plastic-free phrases.
  • Dress up in plastic bags.
  • Take photos of rally goers flexing their Citizen Muscles to share on your social media channels.
  • Refuse one time use plastic bags. They are not free.
  • click on and follow  http://bagitnyc.org
  • follow http://plasticbagbanreport.com for the latest information. Click on about for one person’s affect.
  • Jane Goodall’s Roots Environmental Group photo/art below!

plastic-bags-monsterShoots Environ Grp Jane Goodall

Until next week,

Garbage Girl






No Waste Beauty


I’d never heard of the “No ‘Poo” method for washing hair. Giving up shampoo would surely turn my hair into an unattractive greasy mess!  Then a friend showed up one night for dinner dressed very fashionably with loads of style and during our chat she declared she had not used shampoo for months.  Hmmm!  Could I get away with that?

According to The Skintervention Guide: Purely Paleo Skincare, written by Liz Wolfe, the No ‘Poo method allows the scalp to rebalance itself.  If you stop stripping your hair and scalp of its natural, protective oils with the many chemicals that exist in conventional shampoo like surfactants, actives, preservatives, color, and fragrance then your scalp won’t need to compensate by producing excessive amounts of oil.   Itchiness, dryness, and greasiness will clear up, as long as you can get through the initial adjustment period, which, according to Wolfe, shouldn’t take more than two weeks.  During that time, hair “may feel waxy, frizzy, or ‘off’,” but eventually it will become silky and soft.

Depending on the length of your hair, combine 1-2 tbsp baking soda with 1-2 cups warm water in a glass jar and pour over wet hair in the shower, gently massaging to distribute the baking soda evenly.  Rinse both hair and jar thoroughly.  Next, combine 1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar with 1-2 cups warm water in the glass jar and pour over your head.  Rinse immediately.  The baking soda is alkaline, which requires the acidity of apple cider vinegar to neutralize it and balance the pH on your hair and scalp.   Some people use regular vinegar mixed with a few drops of essential oil.   The vinegar rinse is a necessary ‘conditioner’ to get soft, shiny, and manageable hair.

Sustainable health products that don’t require icky purple or pink packaging, unnecessary processing and additives really has my interest piqued.   I find an intriguing imbalance striving for zero waste and feeling abundant.   The idea of getting back to basics and becoming more aware of sustainability feels rich and fulfilling but the practice leaves me just going without and feeling disgusted with the amount of waste I see everyday.   I think I better just get started with new ways to do things and make it fun!

Some waste aware tips for hair that reflects your inner health!

  • Avoid hair products that contain petroleum-derived silicone because it creates the illusion of smooth, healthy hair, but actually coats the hair shaft, seals out moisture, and clogs follicles.  Hair can become ‘hooked’ on silicone and stop producing its own natural emollients.
  • One or two washings a week should be sufficient.  The more you wash, the more oil your scalp will produce to compensate for having its natural oils stripped so often, which leads to more washing.
  • Your hair is 80 percent protein and thrives on biotin, vitamins B and C, and folic acid.  So opt for protein-rich foods, fruits and vegetables.  Drink water to decrease hair breakage.
  • A few drops of rosemary, lavender, or ylang-ylang essential oils on your fingers massaged into your scalp will stimulate hair follicles, promote growth, and replenish your scalp.
  • Two honey hair shine-boosting rinses.  Combine a spoonful of honey with a quart of warm water, massage through shampooed hair, rinse after one hour.  Or mix 1-1/2 tsp honey with 5 cups warm water. Massage through hair and leave it on.
  • The following conditioning mixtures applied weekly to your hair will repair dryness and damage.  Apply and let sit for a half hour: (1) coconut and castor oils (2) olive or grapeseed oil heated gently in the microwave (3) fresh aloe vera from leaves and a beaten egg (4) 1 part melted coconut oil and 1 part honey, (5) 1 mashed avocado and 2 tbsp honey.


Then there’s also your skin!  How about some honey?!

  • Honey cleanser.  Scoop a generous spoonful of honey into your hand and spread over your face. Rub it in.  Let sit for 5-30 minutes. Rinse with warm water.
  • Honey facial.  Combine 1 tbsp buttermilk, 1 tsp honey, and 1 egg yolk. Apply to clean skin and let sit 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water.
  • Honey and oil dissolves makeup residue.  Combine honey and jojoba or coconut oil to create an easily spreadable texture.  Rub into your skin avoiding eye area.  Rinse with warm water.
  • Honey almond body scrub exfoliates your skin and moisturizes.  Form a paste with 2 tsp ground almonds and 2 tsp honey.  Rub into your skin with a circular motion.  Rinse with warm water.
  • Honey skin lotion can be made from a spoonful of honey, a tsp of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Apply to dry areas.  Let sit for 20 minutes.  Wipe off with a warm washcloth.
  • Lemon-honey facials.  Lemons are rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and alpha hydroxy acids that exfoliate.  Cut a lemon in half, remove seeds and add 1 tsp honey to the lemon half. Rub the cut side on your face.  Let it sit 5 minutes.  Rinse with warm water.
  • Milk and honey bath soaks are relaxing.  Combine ¼ cup honey with 2 cups milk and a few drops of essential oil.  Add to a hot bath.
  • Honey exfoliant.  Mix 2 parts honey with 1 part baking soda.  Apply to your skin.  Rinse.

Knowing what ingredients do to your hair, skin and health is important when talking about products most of us use several times a week—if not every day.  There are many books available to teach you how to make your own products.  And you can put them in your own great containers!!  Have fun!

Until next week,body scrub, mud, bath salt

Garbage Girl


Car Wasted by Garbage Truck


In New York we have been under a blanket of snow for most of the winter.  Low temperatures won’t let the snow melt so the curbs are bumpy with frozen reminders of months of accumulating stuff.  The Department of Sanitation is working hard to keep the streets clear.  They are doing such a good job that one of the snow plows got too close to our car.  It took the mirror and put new character into the back quarter panel.  Was it an all nighter for that loyal sanitation worker? Or did we park an inch too far away from an invisible curb buried by mountains of ice from the last storm’s street cleaning?

This morning the sun is out and the night’s snowfall is still a pristine white.  So, while the monster trucks are out keeping the city abuzz, I thought I would entertain you with the power of these trucks and the degree at which their owners revere them.

How You Can Help:

  • Stay off the streets so the Sanitation Department can do their job.  You can imagine how challenging it must be.
  • Pull car mirrors in.
  • Pick up litter as it surfaces.
  • Curb your dogs.
  • Be aware of when the Sanitation Department can and cannot honor your garbage days. http://www1.nyc.gov/site/dsny/index.page

Until next week,

Garbage Girl