D.C. law to restrict bags: read the bill

The heart of a proposed District of Columbia law — the Anacostia River Cleanup & Protection Act of 2009 — is a provision to restrict what bags D.C. retailers may use. Out go recyclable plastic and kraft paper bags. Recyclable bags are OK, but they must be labeled such and there’s a fee for their use. (“Produce” bags and the like are excluded; not great, but probably politically essential and not likely the source of much of the pollution.)

Read the bill here.

It is Bill B18-0150 and you can follow the process here.

I support it, both for the cleanliness of the beleaguered, bag-choked Anacostia River, but also for the sake of the city and region.

There’s a public hearing about it on April 1, details here.

Bag surcharge bill to DC Council

Twelve of the thirteen members of the District of Columbia Council have introduced the Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act which includes a five-cent fee on disposable grocery bags, plastic or paper.

Would be nice if it included other retailers — especially restaurants — but this probably gets the biggest number of bags off the streets and out of the environment.

Story at Greater Greater Washington.

Press release at the site of Councilmember Tommy Wells (Ward 6) and TrashFreeAnacostia.com.

Answering Beth Terry’s questions

I was glad to have new visitors today, including Beth Terry (Fake Plastic Fish) who asked some getting-to-know you questions.

  1. What was it that first inspired you to eliminate plastic from your life? Was it a particular issue? News article? Experience? And when was this?
  2. Besides the obvious ones like carrying your own grocery bags or giving up bottled water, what has been the easiest change to make? (And if those first two weren’t easy, I’m sorry to assume!)
  3. What has been your biggest challenge so far?
  4. What one thing would you say to encourage others to lessen their plastic consumption?
  5. What plastic-related issues are most prevalent in the area where you live? Are you working on plastic bag bans? Bottled water campaigns? Finding plastic-free products in your area? I’d like to get a sense of the regional challenges that plastic activists face.

Here’s what I sent her.

  1. I’ve chosen to greatly reduce my plastic use because I’m trying to scale back by consumption overall, as a matter of religious principle. Plastic has huge inputs, is hard to reuse or properly dispose of, and is ubiquitous. Controlling plastic use not only saves resources, but it is a shorthand way to save other resources besides. (I might try and reduce oil consumption instead, but I don’t own a car.)
  2. Giving up small “speculative” electronics has been the easiest, including deciding not to buy a new computer. I’m also a Linux advocate, in part, because it helps me make best use of what I already own.
  3. That’s easy: packaged tofu and yogurt. And cheap meals out. More beans, fruit and planning for lunch out with my husband and office mates, who have been supportive.
  4. Be plain about your intentions and ask friends and family for suggestions to reduce plastic use, rather than making a stand . . . and standing alone. You’re more likely to convince others of plastic reduction — which helps more — and is good for overcoming the “sucker feeling” that your choices are nothing more than an eccentricity.
  5. I live and work in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C.: the land of bottled water. I think the economic downturn might provide an opening for tap water — particularly if Sigg bottles can make it a bit more chic, like durable bags are becoming — if there was more confidence in D.C. water quality. Nationally, I also care about biodegradable packaging for electronics.

I welcome your questions and will do my best to answer them..

Brita fiter campaign successful

Plastic water bottles are a terrible source of plastic waste, so drinking tap water — perhaps filtered — makes sense. Brita has been taking advantage of this new sensitivity with a compelling a: buy our filters and be green.

Beth Terry — she of Fake Plastic Fishled a campaign to get Brita to take back their plastic-cased filters for recycling as they do overseas. And she and her cohorts have succeeded.

Week-old news, perhaps, but continuing evidence that there’s merit in applying pressure on companies to reduce their plastic load on consumers, and other worthwhile changes. Packaging reduction comes to mind, and in particular encouraging computer retailers to swap expanded foam packaging for molded paper fiber (like many egg cartons are made).

It’s because of Beth

I’m just your ordinary Universalist-theology-church-administration-Ubuntu-Linux-District-of-Columbia kind of blogger. Why am I blogging on plastic use reduction? Beth Terry, that’s why, or rather, who.

I’ve never met her, but she writes the Fake Plastic Fish blog, and it doesn’t fail to challenge and inspire. So first I commented there, and wrote a couple of associated blog posts on my main blog. Then she challenged people to begin blogging and — after some thought — decided to join. (Here’s some people who she found or found her that blog on the subject.)

Just last night, via Twitter, she lamented the lack of men blogging on the subject. (That post, and my “I’m here” reply were lost in some data dump.)  I’m here because of her and you, dear reader.

Now, Beth takes a rather strong and self-disciplined view to plastic-use reduction; more, indeed than I plan to commit myself. (I hope to explain and defend my choices as the blog develops.)  Positively, I hope my contribution will be tips for the workplace — I’ve been thinking about this in real life — and resources particular to the Washington, D.C. area.