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10 posts from June 2008

June 25, 2008

US mayors vote to phase out bottled water consumption

International Herald Tribune, 06.23.08 Iht_logo 

Making international news on Monday, 250 US mayors voted to put an end to using taxpayer money to purchase bottled water for its employees and functions. This is bad news for the likes of Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc., who have enjoyed a steady increase in sales the last few years. Bottled water requires vast amounts of petroleum to produce—both in the manufacturing of the bottles and in the shipping process.

Our Take: Well done US mayors! While critics of the resolution call it “sound-bite environmentalism”, we say it’s leading by example. Encouraging employees and in so doing, citizens, to drink tap water (which is held to higher standards than bottled water) is a great step toward changing the minds of the masses. We think Gigi Kellett from Corporate Accountability International said it best: “It’s just plain common sense for cities to stop padding the bottled water industry’s bottom line at taxpayer expenses.” What do you think?

Link: US mayors vote to phase out bottled water consumption 

June 24, 2008

A little more junk in the water

National Post, 06.02.08 Junk_raft

In a unique take on raising awareness of the dramatic rise of plastics in our oceans, Dr. Marcus Eriksen and Joel Paschal are in the midst of an intense sailing expedition. Their vessel? A raft made from 15,000 plastic bottles, 5,000 plastic bags and a cockpit from an old Cessna airplane. The Algalita Marine Research Foundation hopes the “Junk Raft" will get people to pay attention to the tragedy of the increasing amount of discarded plastic in our oceans; plastic like toothbrushes and cigarette lighters that are choked on by sea birds and microscopic particles that are consumed by fish.

Link: A little more junk in the water 

Check out the blog: Junk Raft Blog

AUDIO CLIP: India cow killer bagged, but deaths continue

npr, 06.09.08

Npr_cow_death_picture_2 A group of very ill cows was taken to a local veterinary hospital, anaesthetized and surgically examined. It turned out, says Indian journalist Subhash Mishra, that inside their stomachs was an extraordinary number of plastic bags. "More than 50, 60 bags," per cow, he recalls. Listen to story…
Link: India cow killer bagged, but deaths continue

Venice urges tourists to drink from fountains

Reuters, 06.03.08 Venice_reuters

Tourists will be given an empty water bottle with the message "Don't throw me away, re-use me!" and a map indicating the 122 fountains flowing with water from the city's aqueducts, inviting them to quench their thirst directly from the source.

Link: Venice urges tourists to drink from fountains 

Baby bottles safe, FDA official says

Baltimore Sun, 06.11.08

In a response to the BPA controversy, the FDA announced recently that parents should not be concerned about safety in regards to the use of the chemical bisphenol-A in their children’s baby bottles. Claiming the concerns raised recently were based on uncorroborated evidence, conflicting results and research done on rats, the officials defended the use of BPA and phthalates.

Our Take: Yikes. In this shockingly irresponsible (and much delayed) response, the FDA continues to erode its “brand” and public trust. Sounds like ass-covering and siding with industry. The old US standard of having to prove a substance is unsafe before it is pulled from the market is alive and well. As much as the government may wish, we have a feeling this isn’t over. What do you think?

Link: Baby bottles safe, FDA official says 

AUDIO CLIP: Beach cleanup tally: 6 million pounds of trash

npr, 04.19.08

Npr_logo1_3The Ocean Conservancy recently released the results from their worldwide beach clean-up effort last September and the numbers are shocking. The majority of items found? Single use disposable plastic items such as plastic bags, Styrofoam containers, etc. 6 million pounds of garbage were removed from beaches that day—it doesn’t even scratch the surface of the total amount of trash in our oceans. “An Environmental Activist talks about where this trash came from and what can be done about it.” 

Our Take: While 6 million pounds sounds like a lot, it barely makes a dent in the sum total of garbage floating out there. The effort is significant, however, because it raises awareness on the issue and gives us more insight to the primary culprits. Listen to story…

Link: Beach cleanup tally: 6 million pounds of trash

VIDEO CLIP: China bans free plastic bags

CNN, 06.01.08
China recently fulfilled its January pledge to ban free plastic bags. CNN gives us a glimpse into both the new system of charging for disposable plastic bags and the depressing effects of the culprits being free and plentiful for dozens of years.

Our Take: We hope other countries will follow China’s lead. Charging for plastic bags will help to change consumer habits over time – Ireland has the proof after their hugely successful Plastax produced a 90% drop in consumption. What do you think?

Click here to watch the video: China bans free plastic bags 

IKEA bags the plastic

The Courant, 06.12.08
Last March, IKEA began charging 5 cents for each plastic bag with the hopes of reducing usage by 50 percent. Last month, they announced that not only is the fee working, they have experienced a 92 percent drop in usage.

Our Take: Our congratulations to IKEA for being a strong leader in a sea of mindless consumption. They see that use-and-toss shopping bags—whether plastic or paper—are at the heart of the issue. This is more evidence that fees work. We are proud to have helped inspire them to take this bold step and hope that other retailers will follow suit.  What do you think?

Link: IKEA bags the plastic 

Eco-trendiness is in the bag

Daily Breeze, 06.17.08
As reusable bags continue down the path from obscure eco-crusader tool to trendy fashion accessory, the debate continues on what to do about all those plastic bags. Some say bans are the answer; others claim that recycling will solve the problem. Vincent Cobb of reusablebags.com argues that the behavior we need to change is the mindless overconsumption of use-and-toss items.

Link: Eco-trendiness is in the bag

Consumers turn to cloth and canvas bags instead of plastic

Journal and Courier, 05.25.08

Vincent Cobb, founder and president of www.reusablebags.com based in downtown Chicago, is not a fan of the newfound trendiness of reusable bags. "The heart of the problem is that people are consuming too much," he said. "The problem with the free bags or the 99 cent bag is people have a tendency to accumulate them and not use them." He advised shoppers to purchase a high-quality bag that will last.

Link: Consumers turn to cloth and canvas bags instead of plastic