Extra Plastic Bags?

This Coop next to a highly littered bus stop in our neighborhood let me attach my really cool Bag Bottle to their fence in hopes of creating waste awareness while people wait for the bus.

The Bag Bottle is made of plastic soda bottles and stuffed with plastic bags. Dog owners, litter haters, or people who may just need a plastic bag are welcome to give a tug!

I easily collect a bag full of plastic litter everyday on my way to work.  I will be bringing my own so there will be plenty to inspire others.  Our Waste Matters will be starting a block sponsorship for those of us who want to keep plastic out of our environment.

In NYC, we failed to pass Ban the Bag legislation because people with less means would be disproportionately affected.  If their neighbors provided extra bags for them to use at anytime, maybe we could be Bag Free?!

How is your state doing?   http://www.bagtheban.com/in-your-state

Until next time,

Garbage Girl


NY’s Bottle Bill Joins The OWM Hall of Shame

A cheap drink made in Brooklyn that is polluting Brooklyn

How does New York’s Bottle Bill work?

New York State’s Returnable Container Act requires every deposit initiator to collect a $.05 deposit on beverage containers containing less than one gallon of carbonated soft drinks, beer, malt beverages, wine coolers or water, sold in New York.

A deposit initiator is the first bottler, distributor, dealer or agent to collect the deposit on a beverage container sold in New York State. You’re a deposit initiator if you:

  • Bottle beverages in beverage containers
  • Distribute beverages in beverage containers
  • Sell beverages in beverage containers
  • Act as an agent on behalf of a registered deposit initiator

Dealers (“retailers”) pay the distributor or deposit initiator at least a 5-cent deposit for each beverage container purchased.

Consumers pay the dealers the deposit for each beverage container purchased. (we pay $.05 to Pepsico and Arizona Teas to litter our environment with every purchase)

Consumers may then return their empty beverage containers to a dealer or redemption center to get their deposit back.

Retailers and redemption centers are reimbursed the deposit plus a 3.5-cent handling fee by the distributor or the deposit initiator for each empty beverage container returned.


What beverages are covered by NY’s Bottle Bill?

Carbonated Soft Drinks, Sparkling Water, Carbonated Energy Drinks, Carbonated Juice (anything less than 100% juice, containing added sugar or water)
Soda Water
Beer and Other Malt Beverages
Mineral Water – Both carbonated and non-carbonated mineral water
Wine Products
Water that is flavored or nutritionally enhanced

What beverages are not covered by NY’s Bottle Bill?

Milk Products
Wine and Liquors
Hard Ciders
Tea  hello@drinkarizona.com
Sports Drinks  there is no contact info for Gatorade
Drink Boxes
Waters Containing Sugar

Let’s look at what is littered on our streets from Gatorade and Arizona Teas.  Both companies do not have deposit agreements with NY. I encounter this litter everyday on my 15 minute walk to work from Clinton Hill to Downtown Brooklyn on Dekalb Ave.


Take a moment to learn which companies have deposits for your state. It makes a difference.

The consumer deposit tax is not the best system to protect our environment but that is a topic for another blog.

Natural Ways To Consume Electrolytes

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Compostable Waste That Will Surprise You

Organic waste being converted into compost at McEnroe Farms in Millerton, NY about 100 miles from NYC. Photo credit: BioCycle

The New York Department of Sanitation has a goal of Zero Waste to landfills by 2030.  Part of this initiative is getting New Yorkers to compost all of the organic waste they generate.  It will apply to approximately 350 of the biggest food generators in the city, including hotels with 150 or more rooms, arenas and stadiums with at least 15,000 seats, as well as large-volume food manufacturers and food wholesalers.

Compo Keeper made a list of 25 items you use everyday that can go into the compost bin!  http://compokeeper.com/25-non-food-household-items-youll-be-surprised-are-compostable/

Be especially aware that plastic fibers, films, and microbeads  will break down, contaminate the compost and possibly enter the environment unchecked.  Plastic fibers from polyester and other synthetic fabrics in our laundry are the number one worst environmental contaminants followed by microbeads.

    • Bamboo Skewers
    • Toothpicks
    • Soiled Pizza Boxes (paper recycling has to reject these)
    • Paper soiled by food and oils
    • Q-tips (not the plastic kinds)
    • Matches
    • Burlap sacks (shredded)
    • Latex Balloons
    • Latex and Lambskin condoms (yes, even used)
    • Holiday wreaths (without any plastic shiny things)
    • Potpourri
    • Nail clippings
    • Natural fiber rope
    • Cellophane
    • Kleenex (yes, used ones!)
    • Loofas (the real ones)
    • Cotton balls (100% cotton)
    • Masking tape
    • White/plain glue
    • Hair from your hairbrush
    • Trimmings from an electric razor
    • 100% cotton tampons and sanitary pads (yes, even used)
    • Cardboard tampon applicators
    • Dryer lint (from 100% natural fabrics only!)
    • Old cotton clothing and jeans (ripped or cut into small pieces)
    • Cotton fabric scraps (shredded)
    • Wool clothing (ripped or cut into small pieces)
    • Cotton towels and sheets (shredded)
    • Pencil shavings
    • Sticky notes (shredded)
    • “Dust bunnies” from wood and tile floors
    • Contents of your dustpan (pick out any inorganic stuff, like pennies and Legos)
    • Burlap sacks (cut or torn into small pieces)
    • Old rope and twine (chopped, natural, unwaxed only)
    • Ashes from the fireplace, barbecue grill, or outdoor fire pits
    • Soiled Paper table cloths (shredded or torn into smaller pieces)
    • Crepe paper streamers (shredded)
    • Natural holiday wreaths
    • Fur from the dog or cat brush
    • Droppings and bedding from your rabbit, gerbil, hamster, etc.
    • Newspaper/droppings from the bottom of the bird or snake cage
    • Feathers
    • Alfalfa hay or pellets (usually fed to rabbits, gerbils, etc.)
    • Dry dog or cat food, fish pellets

Until next time, remember you can eat the entire apple!
Garbage Girl             

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






Polystyrene Waste Banned!

ecofashion_weekend_02_thumb1 New York City is moving to the forefront of a growing   environmental trend!!  Last year,  Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an ambitious plan to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 from its 2005 levels.   This year e-waste is illegal to throw in the garbage.  And Now!  Stores, food service establishments and manufacturers won’t be able to possess, sell or offer single-use styrofoam containers, cups, even packing peanuts beginning July 1 with a grace period until January 2016 for companies and administrators to work out the realities.

The reason is purely environmental.  Expanded Polystyrene Foam (EPS) cannot be efficiently recycled through NYC’s curbside pickup program.  “These products cause real environmental harm and have no place in our city.  We have better alternatives.  If more cities across the country follow our lead and institute similar bans, those alternatives will soon become more plentiful and cost less.  By removing nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from our landfills, streets and waterways, we will be taking a major step towards our goal of a greener, greater New York City,”  the mayor said.

Styrofoam (the trademark name given to EPS by Dow Chemical) containers are popular in restaurants that offer a takeout option and hundreds of food carts and trucks that populate New York’s streets.  Such vendors will have to seek out recyclable alternatives, though businesses with less than $500,000 in annual revenue can apply for exemptions if using alternative containers would cause “undue financial hardship.”  Compostable plates will be the new norm at the city’s public school cafeterias.  Packing peanuts cannot be sold within the city, but peanuts can still be placed in packages that are shipped into New York.  All other rigid polystyrene products will continue to be landfilled.  CD cases, single serve containers and some decorative items. Unknown-1

Though New York is the largest city to ban this type of “dirty foam,” other cities including San Francisco, Seattle and Portland have enacted similar measures.

In the year since the ban was first proposed, EPS manufacturers like Dart Container Corporation were given an opportunity to prove that foam foodservice items could be economically and logistically recycled within the city’s five boroughs.  Dart representatives stated,  “We conducted real world tests that unequivocally proved this feasibility.”  After consulting with corporations, nonprofits, vendors and other stakeholders,  the Department of Sanitation determined that expanded polystyrene foam cannot be recycled efficiently through its curbside pick up program.  Post-consumer EPS can be recycled but most communities that offer EPS collection do so through a drop-off format.  The largest opponent of the ban, Dart Container,  partnered with Plastics Recycling, Inc. (PRI), to buy all New York City rigid and expanded foam polystyrene if DSNY agreed to collect it and optically sort/bale it by Sims Municipal Recycling.  Dart agreed to fund the addition of sorters at Sims’ Brooklyn plant and the expansion of PRI’s facility.

The decision to ban came down to several reservations that administrators had regarding Dart’s proposed recycling plan and timeline.  City leaders felt putting such an infrastructure in place would take too much time.  DSNY contends the addition of sorters at the Brooklyn Sims’ facility would take up to two years and PRI’s expansion would take until late spring 2015.

Question marks continue to surround the company’s ability to process post-consumer polystyrene because grease contamination renders polystyrene non-recyclable.  Its volume alone makes it uneconomical to store, transport, degrease and wash it before recycling.  And, Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia warns, if PRI decided after five years to ditch the endeavor, DSNY and Sims “would still have to manage the costs and complications of designating EPS as recyclable.”

According to Brandon Shaw, PRI’s marketing manager,  “Post-consumer foam is a growing market, there’s more demand for it than there ever.”  He told Plastics Recycling Update,  “People are just told it can’t be recycled and they believe it, but we do it every day.  The new plant just allows us to do it more efficiently and on a larger scale”   PRI claims that they already recycle 60 million pounds of polystyrene per year.  A third of that total is post-consumer BUT mostly garnered from drop-off sites.

The Restaurant Action Alliance, a lobbying group, also condemned the ban, suggesting that it would increase costs for eateries.

“While much of the waste we produce can be recycled or reused, polystyrene foam is not one of those materials,” said Commissioner Garcia. “Removing polystyrene from our waste stream is not only good for a greener, more sustainable New York, it also helps the landfill communities who receive the city’s trash.”  Environmental groups have long decried polystyrene as a hazard that clogs the nation’s landfills.

Polystyrene is a petroleum-based plastic made from the styrene monomer.  It is a light-weight material, about 95% air, with very good insulation properties and is used in many types of products.

The biggest environmental health concern associated with polystyrene is the danger associated with Styrene, its basic building block.  Styrene is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the EPA and by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

The polystyrene manufacturing process is the 5th largest creator of hazardous waste according to the EPA and The National Bureau of Standards Center for Fire Research identified 57 chemical byproducts released during the combustion of polystyrene foam.  The process of making polystyrene pollutes the air and creates large amounts of liquid and solid waste.

Toxic chemicals leach out of these products into the food that they contain (especially when heated in a microwave) that threaten human health and reproductive systems.

These products are made with petroleum, a non-sustainable, rapidly depleting, and heavily polluting resource.

Some polystyrene foam manufacturing releases hydrocarbons into the air where they combine with nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight, to form tropospheric ozone, a serious air pollutant.  Though polystyrene manufacturers claim that their products are “ozone-friendly” or free of CFCs, this is only partially true.  EPS manufactured with HCFC-22, was originally thought to be less destructive than its chemical cousins, CFC-11 and CFC-12, but according to an Institute for Energy and Environmental Research study, HCFCs are three to five times more destructive to the ozone layer than previously believed.

By volume, polystyrene takes up more space in landfills than paper, and will eventually re-enter the environment when water or mechanical forces breach landfills.

Polystyrene foam is often found in our environment as litter.  This material is notorious for breaking up into pieces that choke animals and clog their digestive systems.

While the technology for recycling polystyrene is available but the market is small.

Production of environmentally friendly packaging material has stepped up to replace those peanuts.  Corn and other seeds lead the way.  Some are already available as replacements.  Perhaps the problematic recycling situation will be solved by replacing the product.

Polystyrene recycling is not “closed loop”.  Collected polystyrene cups are not remanufactured into cups, but into other products, such as packing filler and cafeteria trays.  This means that more resources will have to be used, and more pollution created, to produce more polystyrene cups

How You Can Help:

  • Select post-consumer recycled paper, bamboo, corn plastics, etc.  They’re renewable resources.
  • Become aware when your favorite “take out” services use polystyrene.  Let them know you can afford a few cents more for recyclable containers.
  • Take shipping peanuts to your neighborhood Shipping Store.  They love them.
  • Paper does the job of keeping your coffee hot just fine.  Or use a refillable container that gives you great satisfaction and delivers your coffee just the way you like it.
  • Egg cartons have been made of paper for a very long time.  Refuse to buy eggs in styrofoam cartons.
  • Fruits and vegetables really don’t need individual protection with styrofoam.  Buy fresh and get healthy.
  • Never microwave food in a styrofoam container.
  • Styrofoam is essentially not recyclable.  It creates such huge volume that it is formidable to handle, clean or transport.  It doesn’t take THAT much styrofoam to fill a semi-truck or a landfill!

Until next week,piled-waste-plastics-1212Garbage Girl