Archive for March, 2009

Santa Clara County Chooses Education, Not Ban, to Discourage Disposable Bag Use

Check out this quick read we received through CBS 5: In its quest to encourage residents to embrace reusable shopping bags, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors is testing the carrot before resorting to the stick. Supervisors this week decided to hold off on exploring a ban or fee on plastic and paper shopping bags. Instead, the group approved on Tuesday a one to two-year outreach program to educate the public on the harm wind-blown plastic bags can pose to natural lands and waterways. Many view the manufacture of both paper and plastic bags for one-time use as a poor use of resources, especially when bags pile up in landfills and are not recycled. The head of the county’s agriculture department, Greg Van Wassenhove, called the approach “a progressive program that works on people’s attitudes.” According to county estimates, 51 retailers in unincorporated areas distribute 35,000 single-use bags, both paper and plastic, each year. If public education alone does not bring this number down, supervisors will revisit the idea of an outright ban, or a fee of perhaps $0.25 for customers who do not bring their own shopping bags. County staff will return to supervisors in April with more specifics on this campaign, including how to implement it, how long it will last, and how the county can measure its success. Van Wassenhove said staff members are also exploring “what other carrots exist out there.” Board President Liz Kniss gave an example of a store giving a nickel back to customers who bring in shopping bags for reuse. Supervisors said this “phased approach” is better suited to the current economy. Van Wassenhove said the county’s recycling commission surveyed municipalities, and found a variety of opinions on reducing the presence of single-use bags. “All the stakeholders agree that the single-use carrier bags are impacting the environment,” he said. “But no one could agree on any one solution.” Palo Alto approved a ban on plastic bags at supermarkets that takes effect Sept. 18. Sunnyvale officials said they plan to propose an ordinance to promote reusable bags, according to Van Wassenhove’s memo to supervisors on the issue.

Planning an Earth Day party?

Here are a few quick tips: 1. Invite your guests through email, make invitations out of recycled materials or do it the old fashioned way- call them! 🙂 2. Decorate your party with blues and greens- perhaps buy small plants, scatter them through out the room, and have guests take them home as gifts 3. Do NOT buy any disposable cutlery or plates 4. Try to serve as much locally grown and sustainable food as possible- every bit counts! 5. Buy some reusable bags to have handy for guests to take home any leftover food or plants Stay tuned for more tips from us! earth-day1

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Be sure to add us on Twitter to receive daily updates on environmental issues we believe are important to everyone: Happy St Patrick’s Day! twitter1

Earth Day Special

Hi All! Please take a moment to check out our Earth Day Special on the homepage of our website: We will plant a tree for every ordered placed until Earth Day (April 22, 2009). Call/Email us for more details: 1-877-AT-OASIS or Keep it Green, Oasis Bags

Could Laguna beach be first in county to ban plastic bags?

Laguna Beach could follow the lead of San Francisco if a proposal to ban or regulate plastic bags by council member Jane Egly is approved by her colleagues. The move, which proponents say will help save both the environment and retailers’ bottom lines, will now by considered by the city’s environmental committee after a unanimous motion was passed by council Tuesday night. “We use too many (plastic bags),” Egly said. “If you drive up Laguna Canyon, you can see them all over the road.” According to the city’s staff report, plastic bags kill over 100,000 marine animals and consume 12 million barrels of oil during their production every year. Only a small fraction of one percent of them is ever recycled, environmental committee member Max Isles said. Egly said she had hoped to propose the measure earlier in her term, but decided it was time to act after seeing a marked increase in the use of reusable bags among local consumers over the past year. “This way, it’s not such a shock,” she said. “When the city banned Styrofoam serving dishes, they gave local businesses at least six months to make the transition, and if we enact this, I thought we could do something similar. “I don’t think it’s really fair – although environmentally smart – to suddenly say, ‘you can’t do that anymore.” City Manager Ken Frank said that the city of Santa Monica is currently wrestling with legal issues surrounding the elimination of plastic bags, and that Laguna would move forward if and when Santa Monica navigates the litigation. “As far as I know, we would be the first (city) in the county,” he said. Council member Elizabeth Pearson said she supported looking into such measures, but that the environmental committee should extend “the courtesy” of consulting local businesses when drafting proposals to the council. Isles, who presented the council with a petition containing 1,905 signatures in favor of such regulations to the council, said that the committee would continue to engage local businesses “It can be a big expense for some of these stores,” he said. “We can turn that into a profit stream by selling reusable bags.” According to the Environmental Protection Agency, consumers worldwide use anywhere from 500 billion to one trillion plastic bags.

Plastic Bag Bill Introduced in Texas

Texas lawmakers have introduced bills to try to reduce the use of plastic bags in different ways. One bill proposes a 7-cent charge for the bags, with the proceeds going to the retailer and to help cities pay for recycling programs, and the other bill would require stores that supply the bags to also offer recycling bins and reusable shopping bags.
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