January 13, 2007

Letter to my Representatives

I sent the following letter this morning via e-mail to my State Representatives. I would encourage you to read up on this issue and approach your State and Federal Legislature if you feel called to do so.

Each year the world consumes approximately 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags, over 380 billion of which are consumed annually here in the US (http://www.reusuablebags.com/facts.php ). While the convenience level is high, the detrimental rate at which these bags are consumed poses a big problem environmentally.

California state assemblyman Lloyd Levine has recently introduced a bill that was signed in to law requiring supermarkets and large stores to implement not only a recycling/take-back program, but to launch an educational campaign about the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling. Additionally, stores are to offer sturdy reusable bags (for sale) to help curb this ever growing trend. The text of the bill can be found at:

In light of the new political atmosphere that has enveloped Ohio, I wanted to encourage you, my representatives, to research this law that has been passed in California. Please look at the problematic usage of plastic bags, the over abundance of garbage streaming into our already over-taxed landfills, and the severe lack of community recycling programs in Ohio. Curbside recycling programs are one of the most effective tools to help consumers curb the amount of waste their families are producing.

Additionally - another sensible approach to this problem is to model a tax (I know, a dirty word), after Ireland's extremely successful PlasTax. In cooperation with retailers, the Irish government introduced PlasTax last year that has slashed consumption over 90% and raised $9.6 million for environmental and waste management projects. Another benefit is that stores save money on bag purchases and improve their public image. For example, Superquinn, one of the largest Irish grocery chains, says the number of bags it distributes for free has dropped by 97.5%

Thank you for your time and your consideration of this issue. I realize it may seem trivial in the grand scheme of Government today, but if we have no planet to live on, there's nothing to govern.

January 08, 2007

Ecological Footprint

I went to http://myfootprint.org/ today. We scored 24 acres - which is pretty much on par with the rest of America. We would need 5.4 planets the size of Earth for everyone to live in the lifestyle that we're living in. The biggest things we can do to minimize our impact have to do with our Shelter and our Goods/Services.

There's not much I can do about our house right now - other than continue to make energy efficient changes. BTW - if every household replaced one regular light bulb with a CFL bulb, it would eliminate 90 billion pounds of greenhouse gases, the same as taking 7.5 million cars off the road! (Information from- http://simplereduce.blogspot.com/2007/01/light-bulbs-and-more.html) So I'm going to take steps to replace our regular bulbs with CFL bulbs, and am considering adding insulation to our attic.

We can, however, do a lot about the Goods/Services, and particularly food. I want to try and reduce the amount of meat we eat to one meal a week, and limit the amount of eggs/dairy we consume as well. I never realized how much energy, etc. go in to raising animals in a commercial manner. I'm sure the reading I've done is just the tip of the ice berg as far as this is concerned, but it's enough to make me want to make some changes in our food choices. I also want to pay closer attention to how much we're paying for produce - how much can a farmer really be making off those oranges that are 8 for $1.00?? Especially considering they've been trucked in from Florida - or worse - California! But that's more research for another day.

**Compact update - I passed up purchasing a pair of my favorite jeans that were on sale for cheaper than I can get them on my discount from my part-time job. You know I'm serious about something when I can pass up that kind of bargain! On a spending note - I did purchase 2 containers for our cats food, and 2 new litter boxes. The old ones will be cleaned and either recycled, or donated to a shelter.