Archive for educational

A Bag Law We Just Can’t Support

You may have heard the Village of Atlantic Beach, NY passed an anti-plastic-bag law last week.

You might be surprised to hear we are not cheering. It calls for a ban on all except “biodegradable” checkout bags.

We’re sure the Village are well intended. It sounds great… except there is actually no such thing as biodegradable plastic, at least not as you might reasonably expect the word “biodegradable” to mean

This will cause more problems than it solves.

We honor the heartfelt campaign from locals Kevin Kelley and others for a fee or ban on all checkout bags. This “bio” option sounds good on the surface, until you think it through. You then realize it creates unintended consequences and eliminates little single use waste from going into our environment.

Why isn’t it good policy?

Merchants complying with it who care about the viability of, or prefer to avoid confrontation over “biodegradable” plastic bags will likely go to paper, which is worse for the environment overall, except that it biodegrades. It leaves them few good options and puts the problem on them.

Paper will bring merchants’ cost for a bag from 2-3 cents to 12-25 cents. These costs will be passed on to everyone, drastically increasing the current >hidden< bag tax. All shoppers pay, so some can take bags they’re going to throw away.

Increasing merchant costs like this creates financial incentive to not comply with the law. Instead, had they instituted a fee it would reimburse them ONLY for bags used, which people pay for as they take them. Capitalists used to call this “purchasing them” which is what happens under a mandatory fee for all bags. No one loses their freedom of choice. Some devout capitalists insist they’re entitled to a “free” bag everyone else pays for- go figure! The fee simply covers the merchant’s costs of storing and supplying the bag and administering the process as a partner in making a cleaner environment. To make it their problem is bad policy.

From our laypersons “legal” view, based on policy and what hasn’t worked elsewhere, this law provides no definition of “biodegradeable” which the Federal Trade Commission says cannot be used to market plastic materials. At best, it invites debate at the point of sale, skirting the law on the grounds of free speech as to what one might assert “biodegradable” means, or at worst, lawsuits from vested industry interests a small village may not withstand that would vacate the law and cost them to fight.

Bio-debateable.

I’m sure when you hear “biodegradable” any rational person would think that means it just “poof” melts(?) away and harmlessly disappears? Reality is, it just doesn’t. It’s greenwashing to present it as harmless or as a solution to plastic pollution.

From plasticbaglaws.org this week:

According to the FTC, the term #biodegradable can’t be used to market #plastic. It’s inherently misleading to customers because it has no commonly accepted test or definition. #Amazon⁠⁠ just settled a lawsuit & will stop selling those bags. #greenwashing☹️

https://resource-recycling.com/plastics/2018/08/15/amazon-settles-biodegradable-claims-case/

Key things to think about “biodegradable”:

  • How long does that breakdown take?
  • Where does that bag go during that time?
  • If it’s fast, or when it gets wet, what happens to a bag full of groceries in the rain?
  • What does it require the user to do (ie: bring to a special biodegrading facility)?
  • Must bag users separately sort it for a special “bio /composting” pickup (which our municipalities do not have)?
  • Will they just be thrown out if included in recycling? (yes)
  • Does it break down in landfill or must it be exposed to air, sun, and/or water (and blow around in the meantime? -most need that). What are you supposed to do, put them on a clothes line to turn into goo?
  • “..’bio-plastics’ fail to fully biodegrade in the natural environment, as they require processing by an industrial composting facility. A study by the 5 Gyres Institute that tested biodegradability in aquatic conditions shows that bio-plastic straws made from PLA (a plant-based plastic) did not substantially degrade in a 24-month time period at sea” (5Gyres, 2017). https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5522e85be4b0b65a7c78ac96/t/5acbd346562fa79982b268fc/1523307375028/5Gyres_BANlist2.pdf

The Solution

Once you realize there is no “away”, you cannot really solve any of those problems with a “throwaway” bag of another material. So the best policy also reduces non-plastic alternatives as well, and the solution pushes towards that goal. A fee or ban or both on ALL bags is key to promote the goal: to remove the opportunity for needless items to become pollution and for everyone to bring your own bag, instead.

The Village seem to have their heart in the right place. They also seem to have simultaneously ignored what nearly every environmental organization or good public policy group proposes based on what works elsewhere, sound policy, and scientific data. It concerns us why they came up with this novel idea instead. Is there a new “biodegradable bag lobby” or companies pitching this “solution” to municipalities without discussing all the issues involved? We hope not.

Of course, you can avoid all this yourself. Just bring your own bag Atlantic Beach – we know you got this!!

And the rest of you, too!

Beneath the Surface: Plastic Pollution presentation July 30, 2018

Beneath the Surface

As Part of Plastic Free July, All Our Energy’s Bring Your Own Bag team welcome this presentation featuring Rob DiGiovanni, founder and chief scientist at Atlantic Marine Conservation Society. Come learn about our local marine environment and how it is negatively impacted by marine debris. Marine debris, such as littered items like straws and plastic water bottles, “ghost” fishing gear, and any other foreign objects just don’t belong in these natural marine ecosystems. Come learn about the detriments of marine debris, and how you can help us save marine wildlife by monitoring our beaches! Presented in partnership with Center for Science Teaching and Learning, Sierra Club LI Group, and Long Island Community Foundation

Center for Science Teaching and Learning
Tanglewood Preserve
1450 Tanglewood Rd,
Rockville Centre, NY 11570

RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/193565337897284/

Rockville Center Bag It Screening July 23, 2018

As part of Plastic Free July, All Our Energy’s Bring Your Own Bag team present a free screening of the award winning, light-hearted, and funny movie “Bag It”. Come find out if your life is a little too plastic!

Rockville Centre Recreation Center
111 N Oceanside Rd,
Rockville Centre, New York 11570

rsvp: https://www.facebook.com/events/244832782764410/

Bag It – South Hempstead June 13, 2018

Bag It S. Hempstead
The South Hempstead Civic Association hosts All Our Energy’s Bring Your Own Bag Nassau campaign for a free public screening of the light-hearted and funny, award-winning film Bag It. Come find out of your life is too plastic (hint- it totally is!)

South Hempstead Firehouse
555 May St,
South Hempstead, NY 11550

RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/939462472881755/

Help us get 1 million bags off the street

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Join our crowdfund in partnership with LI Greenmarket. Donate, and get word out. Every bag you help us give out eliminates 1000 needless checkout bags from ending up in our environment! You can make this real, tangible impact a reality! Check it out at bit.ly/millionbags

A Big THANK YOU to those who have already donated!

With the bag ordinance coming into effect in Long Beach on earth day (4/22/17), there is a huge need for reusable bags that are

1. good quality

2. washable

3. shopping bag size

4. most eco-friendly material we can afford

5. easy to transport and remember to bring.
We are going to fill that need with your help, and with Earth day events coming up, we need bags to give away so everyone can bring their own bag and be a steward of our environment and proud member of our community.

If we can give out 1000 reusable bags it eliminates 1 million checkout bags.

Together, we do great things. I thank you for your support!

Our Art Contest Winners Announced

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All Our Energy, in association with Sierra Club Long Island Group, announce the winner and runners-up of our inaugural Fall 2016 Long Island College Student Poster Design / Art Contest.

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Art submissions came from students attending colleges across Nassau and Suffolk. With the local environmental world abuzz about upcoming off shore wind farms and other renewable energy projects, it is an exciting time for Long Island’s environmental future. We decided it was time to bring art into our world, and bring that excitement to life with work from local artists.

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Our contest winner is Kelsey Kresge of Hofstra University’s “Refocus Our Energy”. Runners-up are Aly Miller of Stony Brook University’s “The Future is in Our Hands”, Rachel Choi of New York Institute of Technology Old Westbury’s “For a Brighter, Cleaner Tomorrow”, and Allison Wolf of Hofstra University’s “Source of Life”.
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Students were offered a $300 prize and received leeway to create their most original and inspiring artwork and concepts, in hopes of generating new ideas, and they did not disappoint.

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We are grateful to all the entrants who shared their ideas and creativity with us to help inspire Long Island to embrace a clean energy future. We thank our winner, our runners up, our judges and our partners at Sierra Club Long Island Group who all helped this first contest succeed.

Event: Brighten the Bay Clean Up

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Saturday 11/5/16 at 10am

Brighten the Bay: Bay Front Clean Up

Riverside Blvd at the Bay- Under the water tower.
800 Riverside Blvd, Long Beach, NY for google maps

RSVP Here

**Protective boots and gloves strongly recommended for waterline area, with plenty of other nearby cleanup needed for those without.

Join your neighbors and friends. Make a difference for our bayfront, our residents, and our wildlife; and contribute the results to science. The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation will join All Our Energy, Surfrider Foundation – Central LI, The City of Long Beach and the BYO Bag LB team to collect and document the trash we remove. Be part of it- All materials supplied, all ages welcome with an adult.

All Our Energy 2016 Art Contest Launched

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All Our Energy, in Association with Sierra Club Long Island Group, announce the launch of our Fall 2016 Long Island College Student Poster Design / Art Contest.

Short link to the contest page is: bit.ly/windart16

We invite college students to create / design a potential poster for our continuing off shore wind power outreach campaign that shows us their artistic skills and their vision of Long Island’s sustainable energy future.

Deadline for entry is November 18, 2016.

Grand Prize is $300

The most interesting, inspiring, and engaging entry, according to our judges, will win.

The winner and three runners-up will be featured on our permanent web page for the contest.

It is an exciting time, with off shore wind power coming to the coast of Long Island. We hope to share that interest and enthusiasm.

If your program or clubs would like to host our off shore wind presentation, a discussion, or a documentary film screening about the first US off shore wind farm, please contact me for dates in November. Evenings are most preferred.

We really appreciate your help in getting word out to students now. This contest only runs for five weeks so the awards can be given out this semester.

Event: TPP- WHAT IT REALLY MEANS FOR OUR LIVES & WHY IT’S SUCH A BIG DEAL. 

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10/28/16 – 7pm Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Central Nassau,

223 Stewart Avenue,

Garden City, NY
RSVP Here

The Administration & Lobbyists are pushing for a vote on TPP right after elections. But what they’re not telling the public is–the Trans Pacific Partnership is NOT just a Trade deal! It’s a corporate wish list that will affect every aspect of our lives–from environmental protection, to access to medicine, to personal financial stability, to the sovereignty of municipalities and nations to make and enforce laws. Why are so many human rights groups, leading economists, environmental, and faith groups actively opposing it? How is this a social justice issue? Join us for a presentation on the TPP, which will include a PowerPoint and expert speakers.

 

Your Representatives in Congress have a key vote! Find out where your representative stands and learn what YOU can do to help!

 

Guest Speakers: Eric Weltman, Senior Organizer of Food & Water Watch NY; Michael Gendron, Exec. VP of Communication Workers of America 1108; Stan Bergman, Pres. LI Chapter of Alliance for Retired Americans; George Povall, Organizer of All Our Energy; Jane Fasullo, Group Chair of Sierra Club LI.

Event: End of the Line free movie screening

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Join us 10/19/16 with Food & Water Watch and see the feature-length documentary about a diverse coalition that recently rose up to defeat the controversial Bluegrass Pipeline in KY!
The Hazardous liquids pipeline, inclding fossil fuel waste for plastics, was part of the plan, foiled by local activists from all walks of life.

Wednesday October 19, 2016 7pm
With Food and Water Watch
Long Beach Public Library
111 West Park Ave, Long Beach, NY 11561
RSVP Here