5 reasons Denver’s proposed plastic bag fee has potential

According to a report on CBS-Denver, “Denver City Councilwoman Deborah Ortega has proposed a five-cent fee for every disposable bag used at grocery and convenience stores in the city limits.”  Under the current proposal 60% of this fee would go to the city while 40% would go to vendors.  The estimates of combined generated revenues according to CBS-Denver is in excess of 6  million of dollars!  While many will consider 2 million dollars in handling fees an excessive cost, and a potential ‘tax on the poor’; I would like to propose that there are at minimum five reasons why ‘Plastic user fees’ are of value.

1.  Plastic pollution is a real and present danger to our environment.  Researchers at the 5 Gyres Institute have found significant evidence that plastic pollution is a global issue polluting the natural homes off both land, sea and air animals around the globe.  In a lab project for 7th to 12th graders indicates that some bird colonies have as much as 80% of their populations that have consumed plastic in their diet.

2. User fees are proven to change consumption patterns. According to an interview by NPR’s Michel Martin, Michael Bolinder of Anacostia Riverkeeper indicates that plastic bag consumption went from over 22 million bags on a monthly basis to about 3 million.  Community governments around the country are seeing the reduction of single use plastic as additional fees encourage citizens to modify consumption patterns and incorporate more conservation minded practices into their daily lives.

3. Single Use plastic bags have low plastic recycling demand.  Consider that while many grocery and chain retail locations provide recycling collection of single use bags, curbside recycling does not.  Because the plastic density and composition of these bags there is little demand for this grade of plastic.  This limited demand means little to no profit margin, and can actually be a financial burden to waste management which is why these plastics are restricted from community recycling programs.

4. Plastic does not decompose.  Instead it behaves like rock in that it breaks down into smaller portions of itself.  Plastic is made through a chemical manufacturing process called polymerization, and is designed to be a lightweight alternative for manufacturing, storage and transportation costs.  Unfortunately, the only way to convert plastic back to natural materials is to reverse manufacture them via a process called depolymerization.  Studies by the 5 Gyres  Institue show how plastics of all sizes are contaminating oceans and beaches around the planet as well as all five great lakes.

5. Plastic is made up of oil, a primary source of single use consumption on the planet.  A report by Friends of the Earth states, “Humans today extract and use around 50% more natural resources than only 30 years ago, at about 60 billion tonnes of raw materials a year”.  This includes increasing levels of oil consumption globally that has pushed for the expansion of environmentally dangerous sources of gas and oil collection like Bitumen Tar Sands and Hydraulic Fracturing.

So while the current proposal before Denver’s City Council may not be the version that gets a final vote, I hope that you will agree that the prospect of such an action is a timely and responsible course in environmental responsibility.  If you are not already in the habit of bringing reusable shopping bags, your family and friends may  thank you, plus think of all the money you will be saving once the fee’s begin!

Have you ever woken up in the morning and just wanted to cry?

This morning has been that way.   It is 7 am and I’ve been up since 5:30.  I have to meet with a professor in 3 hours and I am feeling so broken right now.  The whole point of getting up early was to continue reworking my term paper outline/rough draft.  I am writing a paper on the problems with the EPA and how Presidential and Congressional deregulation efforts have placed us in a situation where the EPA does not have accurate funding, cross government support and a record of effective judicial backing in enforcement and penalties to maintain it’s directives effectively.  So I’m doing my best to stay focused, I mean I got up at 5:30 to work!

As I continue my research efforts, new things start popping up at me.  Sometime in the last several days I wrote about how we have had major and minor oil spills and our news media isn’t covering it.  It’s like there was a secret executive order to maintain silence on these matters.  The FAA even went so far as to declare a broken pipeline Tar Sands / Bitumen spill  in Mayflower, Alabama a No Fly Zone while reporters attempting to access government officials are threatened with jail for trespassing.  Yes I said No Fly Zone.  Maybe you remember how we maintained a NFZ on Saddam Hussein so he couldn’t pester the indigenous people of Northern Iraq with chemical missiles in the 90’s or how after September 11, 2001 the nation’s airspace was shut down.  That’s a no fly zone.  No look see, don’t come around here – kind of action.  I wonder if there are military planes enforcing this…. anyway I digress.

This morning, I found this :

Montana.  Oil is bubbling up to the ground and entering waterways.  Clean up efforts continue to show PAPER TOWELS being used to clean things up.  So this morning, my spirit is crying deeply.  I won’t turn on the TV because I’m supposed to be working I have a paper to write and it’s due next week.  I can’t seem to get away from this.  This information leads me to understand that on top of Mayflower Alabama, the train derailment in Minnesota, and the pipeline leaks in Houston Texas, we now have a pipeline discharging oil in Montana.   Does this upset you too?  It upset me so much I had to put my paper down and type this out.

Please I can’t ask you enough, write your congressmen and other representatives!  Then call your news agencies and ask them, why they aren’t covering this!  Can you spend 10 minutes today, I just don’t have the strength or focus – I have a paper to write and grades to earn, and ugh – I haven’t even been awake 2 hours and I want to break down and cry!

Some days it’s really hard to pick your battles

Have you seen X-Men the movie?  There’s a scene in it where Dr. Charles Xavier in in a machine called Cerebro and he is able to ‘hear’ the thoughts of mutants everywhere.  Sometimes I truly believe that our world is becoming like that.  Turn on your tv, drive down the street, open your phone – tablet or computer – we are getting messages everywhere and the sad sad truth is that these messages are controlled and directed at you.

Do a search on your computer for a topic, activity or event.  Now wait and watch.  In the next 20 min (often less) advertizing related to your searches will start appearing on Facebook, Google and every web page you visit.  When it comes to the digital world, marketing is tailored to you.   Unfortunately, this isn’t the case when it comes to news of the world.   There is so much tragedy out there today, most of us find it easy to tune out the nastyness Yesterday I watched a movie called, “Not Today” on child slavery in India.  It is a really good movie that I believe everybody should see. However it’s one of a thousand topics regarding the horrific nature of greed and destruction here on earth.

Today, in America – something unique has happened this week.  In the past seven days we have experienced not one, two or three but FOUR known oil and or chemical spills, some of them are small, but they are real.  While this is happening, our news media has been keeping busy keeping our eyes averted so you wouldn’t focus on them.  Why don’t they want you to focus on this?  Well my opinion is that if we knew how much oil is spilling, we might not support XL pipelines crossing our country – exposing potential disasters to our water resources, our pristine protected lands or our  communities.

Now hold on, I’m not exaggerating.  This is not some far off conspiracy theory.   These stories are real, and once you see all of them in combination, I hope you will do something more than read and share this post.  I also ask you to share it, not just with each other, but post it on the Facebook and Twitter feeds of  your elected officials, tell them your concerns.  Email them your questions and have a direct dialogue with them.   First the stories of these four oil spills.

One – Train March 27, a train derailed and spilled 30,000 gallons of tar sands oil in Minnesota via Bloomberg  (@BloombergNews) http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-27/canadian-pacific-railway-derailment-spills-crude-in-minnesota.html

Two – A small rest area oil spill leaves firefighters with the cleanup and the culprit unknown.  Also unknown – how much was leaking as it continued down the road    http://www.austindailyherald.com/2013/03/30/firefighters-clean-up-after-semi-spills-oil-at-hayward-rest-area/ Via Austin Daily Herald

Three – over 300 gallons hydraulic oil spills in Michigan.  http://record-eagle.com/statenews/x1413935908/Oil-spill-leaves-sheen-on-the-Grand-River-in-Lansing  via Traverse City Record Eagle

Four – Mayflower Alabama, now a No Fly Zone as deemed by the FAA – is an inland tar sands disaster when an underground pipe sprung a leak.  Most resident’s didn’t even know the pipe was flowing under their homes!  American news media silent over for 3 days, minimal coverage since.  Story by Russia Today (@RT_com) http://on.rt.com/gt0j6d

Wow.  That’s a lot of mess.  And this is just one area where we, are watching things get worse.  Truth is if all we do is focus on these problems, how could we find any happyness in our world.  As I consider getting some coffee before writing my representatives, I know I’ll be getting it out of a plastic container that was shipped to my grocer using fossil fuels to get it from another part of the world to my neighborhood.  It’s a never ending battle, and some days well, it’s really hard to pick your battles.  I’m hoping that today, this is one you’ll spend 20 minutes fighting with me.    So go grab a coffee, or soda and then please use the following links to contact the president and your state representatives to voice your concerns.

http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

As a concerned American, human and resident of planet earth, I thank you in advance.

UPDATE:

A 5th incident is being reported!  Texas pipeline owned by Shell ruptures!!!