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

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Rwanda and Kenya Plastic Pollution Leaders

Plastic bags get buried in the sand and become part of the beach.

Rwanda and Kenya are leading the world by eliminating a familiar problem: billions of plastic bags choking waterways and destroying entire ecosystems.  To fight this evil, all non-biodegradable plastic is banned from these countries.

At Kigali International Airport, a sign warns visitors that plastic bags will be confiscated.  Agents from the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) inspect travelers’ suitcases and discard all plastic films. Throughout the country, businesses have been forced to replace plastic carrier bags with paper ones.  The ban was a bold move. It paid off with an obvious improvement in clean countrysides, roadways, and water.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/15/rwanda-banned-plastic-bags-so-can-we

The United Nations, has begun a #CleanSeas campaign to eliminate the use of plastic microbeads and single-use plastic bags by 2022.   With more than 40 countries acting now to help meet this goal, there is no excuse for the rest of the world to wait.

Many other countries, states and cities are in the news because they are trying to deal with this horrific issue.

England imposed a 5-pence charge on plastic bags in 2015 and usage dropped 85 percent in the first nine months!

California became the first American state to ban plastic bags, in 2014.  State laws are slow to pass.  See where your state stands in the Ban the Bag push.   http://www.bagtheban.com/in-your-state

Gov. Andrew Cuomo blocked a New York City bill in 2014 to impose a 5-cent fee on plastic bags because less advantaged people would be unfairly targeted and the NYC economy is dependent on consumer convenience.  Early this year, Mr. Cuomo formed a task force to create passable legislation. That law cannot come soon enough.  The New York Department of Sanitation collects an average of 1,700 tons of plastic bags per week, costing $12.5 million per year in disposal expenses.    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/nyregion/cuomo-blocks-new-york-city-plastic-bag-law.html?mcubz=1

No bag is free of an environmental impact, whether that’s contributing to climate change, ocean pollution, water scarcity, or pesticide use. We tend to favor reusable bags in an attempt to reduce our chronic overconsumption, but they come with many associated problems.

Considering what we put in the bag at the store (unnecessary packaging, meat, products wrapped in plastic, single use products) and how we discard or use the bag after its achieved its original purpose has a real impact on the environment.

     
These books will open up a whole new world.  Color photographs, maps, and graphics explore one of the planet’s most dynamic environments—from tourist beaches to Arctic beaches strewn with ice chunks to steaming hot tropical shores.  The World’s Beaches tells how beaches work, explains why they vary so much, and shows how dramatic changes can occur on them in a matter of hours.  It discusses tides, waves, and wind; the patterns of dunes, washover fans, and wrack lines; and the shape of berms, bars, shell lags, cusps, ripples, and blisters.  This fascinating, comprehensive guide also considers the future of beaches, and explains how extensively people have affected them—from coastal engineering to pollution, oil spills, and rising sea levels.  The Beach Book tells sunbathers why beaches widen and narrow, and helps boaters and anglers understand why tidal inlets migrate.  It gives home buyers insight into erosion rates and provides natural-resource managers and interested citizens with rich information on beach nourishment and coastal-zone development.

Until next time,  

Garbage Girl

I Wish I Could Say It Felt Good

Honoring International Coastal Cleanup Day, Martin and I paddled our kayaks toward Jamaica Bay, an 18,000-acre wetland estuary surrounded by the Rockaway Peninsula to the South, Brooklyn to the West, and Queens to the East.  The 10,000 acres of parkland (almost equal to the size of Manhattan)is managed by the National Park Service.  It consists of numerous islands, a labyrinth of waterways, meadowlands, and two freshwater ponds, providing a unique environment for both wildlife preservation and urban recreation.  A favorite stop for migratory waterfowl, the area is an essential part of making the larger regional ecosystem complete.

http://www.nyharborparks.org/visit/jaba.html

Jamaica Bay was a prime fishing and oystering center but it became so polluted by 1916 that all of those businesses ended.  It took over 5 decades, but the Clean Water Act finally made dumping and polluting illegal by 1972 and the big bay has since made a comeback.  Mussels (still inedible) are now embedded in the reeds along the shores. 50,000 oysters were planted in beds composed of broken porcelain, harvested from recycled toilets as part of New York City’s Water Conservation Program.

The Bay is full of islands and channels whose names have been lost in the mists of time: Point Elders Marsh, Old Swale Marsh, Nestepol Marsh, Grass Hassock, Jo Co’s Marsh, and many more known only by local mariners.  Non are inhabited by humans.

We kayaked to Canarsie Pol with two extra large, clear garbage bags and the intention of making a dent in the amount of plastic washed up on the shore.  All of this plastic was ocean bound trash from storm runoff, boats, the mainland and careless recreational practices while people were out enjoying what nature brings to them but not caring about what they bring to nature.  A lot of this plastic becomes a structural part of the reeds and the beach.

A Ghost Pier Abandoned Long Ago on Canarsie Pol

After 4 hours, along a mere 200 yard stretch of reeds just west of this old pier, we filled 3 large bags (we found another one on the island) with plastic single use items. Mind you, this was only what was accessible to us where the reeds met the beach.  The plastic we could see but could not reach went into the reeds for yards.  Its anyone’s guess how much plastic is buried under the sand.

I wish I could say it felt good to be out on a beautiful fall day picking up garbage.

Plastic bags were so enmeshed in the reeds and the sand dunes that they are now a permanent part of Canarsie Pol. Weathered plastic shattered in our hands as we tried to pull it out of the sand.  The amount of small pieces of styrofoam broken up over time was impossible to collect.  We didn’t even bother with glass or aluminum.

The black bag to the right is filled with plastic lids, shopping bags and single use items.                                                          A third clear bag was left on the island.

Thanks a lot Gatorade. You must feel proud to have your name on this waste.

The third bag had to be tied and securely left on shore for another concerned citizen to bring back to the mainland.  We couldn’t securely attach it to our kayaks and we dreaded the thought of us and the other bags spilling into the bay.

I thought I could at least get a good feeling by knowing that the person who picks up our redeemables each week could make some money.  He told me that all of these bottles are destined for the landfill because the barcodes which are printed on the plastic brand labels are gone.

The beverage companies must stop their practice of making the environment pay for their irresponsible profits.

We must stop giving these companies our hard earned money and our beautiful home.

NYC needs to lead the ban on single use plastic bags once and for all.

Until next time,

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.

photo

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