I signed a total of twelve petitions this past week. Here’s what they were about:
I asked that funding for orca rescue programs be reinstated, via Friends of the Earth. I demanded that mountain-top removal coal mines be banned, via the Sierra Club. I supported the Save America’s Pollinators Act, which would ban pesticides that harm bees, with Organize CREDO. I asked that both captive and wild chimps receive protection, instead of being considered separate in the eyes of the law, via Center for Biological Diversity. I endorsed GMO food labeling for the state of Washington with Yes on 522. I demanded that there be restrictions on factory carbon emissions with the League of Women Voters. I told Congress to act on climate change by reducing carbon emissions and increasing use of renewable energy with Care2Petition. I expressed my outrage with the use of child and slave labor for palm oil production with the Rainforest Action Network. I asked for the low speed limit law in endangered Right Whale waters to be renewed with the Center for Biological Diversity. I demanded that American wolves remain protected with Defenders of Wildlife. I said no to Arctic drilling via the Sierra Club. Lastly, I demanded that the bushmeat trade be banned, which would help out endangered chimpanzees, with Care2Petition.
The organizations I listed above make it easy to make your voice heard with petitions and connect with your representatives and leaders. Sign up with them today (for free) to receive action alerts about petitions!
Plastic bags are difficult to recycle, which is why ninety percent of bags in the United States are not recycled. Despite this, between 500 billion and 1 trillion plastic bags are used annually around the world, with 380 billion of those used in the United States.
Picture courtesy of: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2011/11/speaking-out-for-tougher-plastic-bag-laws/
This week, I’m planning on writing to my local government to ask for a ban on plastic bags in my town, and I want you to write a letter too.
Plastic bag bans are becoming common, and are supported by major cities across the United States. For example, on June 18th of this year, Los Angeles, America’s second largest city, finalized its plastic bag ban. The ban will effectively eliminate 2.3 billion bags, keeping them out of landfills, forests, and marine and land animals’ stomachs, along with reducing the need for oil. The ban also requires that there be a ten cent fee for every paper bag a customer uses and that all stores must provide reusable cloth bags to customers, whether they be for free or for sale.
Other cities and counties that have jumped on the ban wagon include Palo Alto, California; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; Westport, Connecticut; Marshall County, Iowa; Suffolk County, New York; Maui County, Hawaii; among others. Countries with plastic bag bans and restrictions include Bangladesh, China, Pakistan, Rwanda, Burma, Botswana, Brazil, Italy, South Africa, Taiwan, and many more.
Opponents of bag bans say that the bans make customers and retailers turn to paper bags, which aren’t any greener than plastic bags. Furthermore, they worry about the loss of manufacturing jobs, reduced consumer choice, and negative effects on growing recycling programs. While these are good points, I don’t believe they are enough to justify resisting plastic bag bans and taxes.
If customers are provided with reusable cloth bags and are gently reminded and encouraged to use them, they will be more likely to do so. The way I see it, consumer choice isn’t much of a factor- paper, plastic, or cloth, they all serve the same purpose; to transport the goods effectively. As for the recycling programs, there are plenty of other items that need recycling beyond plastic bags, and the lack of a recycling program isn’t going to keep consumers from coming to a store when they need something. As for the jobs; let’s not forget that the manufacturing of reusable bags is creating jobs, too. At this point in the climate crisis, we need to be prepared to make large scale switches in our thinking and everyday behavior. It takes oil to make plastic bags, which is a nonrenewable and polluting resource, and after using that oil to make them, they are typically used once and then thrown away. From there, they travel to landfills where they do not decompose easily or quickly, or they travel through our ecosystems, causing great harm to wildlife. So, why would we continue to use them? We’ve all seen plastic bags on the sides of roads and caught in trees. Currently, there is a mass of trash and waste in the Pacific ocean the size of Texas. A good chunk of that is made up of “disposable” plastic products.
Picture courtesy of: http://ecosalon.com/using-plastic-shopping-bags-can-put-you-to-jail-in-delhi/
So, my challenge to you this week is to write a letter to your local government, like I’m going to do. Ask for a plastic bag ban, and get your friends and family to write letters to, or to sign a copy of yours.
When writing your letter, try to address these points:
- Explain the problems with our addiction to using plastic bags.
- Point out that bans are becoming increasingly popular and are very doable; major cities around the United States and even entire countries are implementing them.
- Suggest plastic bag taxes as an alternative to an all-out ban. Plastic bag taxes have been shown to reduce use, as well as boost revenue. For example, during the first year that the District of Columbia implemented a five cent bag tax, D.C. collected a whopping two million extra in tax revenue.
- Discuss the arguments against plastic bag bans and why you don’t think they are good enough reasons to avoid a ban. It’s important that the person you’re writing to understands the whole story, but remember, you’re trying to convince them that banning plastic bags is more beneficial than not.
- Be sure to source your information!
- On top of writing and sending in a letter, consider calling your mayor or setting up a meeting with him or her. Also, alter your letter and send one to your county representatives as well, suggesting a county-wide plastic bag ban.
If you want help with writing your letter or advice for meeting with your representatives, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want an easy, fill-in-the-blank letter, email me and I will provide you with a version of my letter that will allow you to apply it to your town/county.
Good luck! Be sure to let Viridorari know about the results of your Green Challenge endeavors. Email me and tell me about your experience, and you could be featured on the blog. Do you have a good idea for a Green Challenge? Consider being a Guest Writer!