Posts Tagged ‘massachusetts’

Peering into the creek flowing next to Bambu Batu, I am happy to say that since we banned the plastic bag in the county, I see fewer flimsy pieces of trash floating in the water. However, I still see a ton of plastic water bottles nestled in the reeds and submerged in the mud. San Luis Obispo, look towards Concord, Massachusetts who as of the first of this year have officially ditched the single-use plastic water bottle. It is now illegal to sell any non-sparkling, unflavored beverage in a PET plastic container of sizes 1 liter or less. A first offense gets a warning, a second infraction levies a $25 fine, and the third will slap you with a $50 ticket.

Aside from being a huge eyesore when they appear in our neighborhoods and natural areas, plastic water bottles use a staggering amount of resources to produce, fill, and recycle. Activist group Ban the Bottle estimates that it takes 17 million barrels of oil a year to make the containers, enough petroleum to fuel 1.3 million cars. In 2007, Americans used a whopping 50 billion bottles, recycling only 23%. That means 38 billion bottles ended up in landfills.

In addition to wasting fossil fuels, activists are worried that the bottle water industry is having a negative impact on local community water tables. By draining aquifers, big companies take advantage of tax payer subsidized infrastructure only to sell back the water at a gigantic profit. Human health is also a concern, as many chemicals found in PET plastic have been shown to be harmful. For example, antimony, a component of polyethylene terephlalate plastics, has been shown to cause dizziness and depression in low doses, and and in high levels can cause anxiety, vomiting, and death.

Why not avoid the whole mess altogether and buy yourself a trusty reusable water bottle? Here at the store, we recommend our Bamboo Bottle or bamboo-topped Klean Kanteen. Make a statement, keep hydrated, and do you part to keep the Earth from becoming a plastic planet!

As the Republicans and Democrats fight it out during the Presidential race, you may not be aware that amongst all the blustering, canvassing, and fundraising, there is a third party contending for the highest office in the land.  This election cycle, the Green Party ticket is being represented by Presidential nominee Jill Stein and Vice Presidential candidate Cheri Honkala.

So, what does the Green Party stand for? 

GP legislation and principles have their roots in the commitment to social justice, non-violence, environmentalism, and grassroots organization.  Formed in 2001 from the Association of State Green Parties, members hope to renew the idea of democracy without the contributions of corporate donors.  Their primary goal is to assist state Green Parties in growth and policy debate.  They emphasize transparency and the democratic process and in building consensus.

The core of their political activity can be summarized through 10 Key Values: Grassroots Democracy, Social Justice and Equal Opportunity, Ecological Wisdom, Non-Violence, Decentralization, Community Based Economics, Feminism and Gender Equality, Respect for Diversity, Personal and Global Responsibility, and Future Focus and Sustainability.  (For a more detailed elaboration of these ideas, visit their website).

Who is running?

Dr. Jill Stein: A Harvard-educated doctor, author, and environmental advocate, Dr. Jill Stein has been nominated as the GP presidential candidate for 2012. She has co-authored widely-used reports on environmental health, including In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development and Environmental Threats to Aging.  Her “Healthy People, Healthy Planet” teaching program draws connections between human well-being, climate security, and economic stimulation.  She began her work as an environmental advocate in 1998, and has since used her expertise to testify before legislative panels, appear on nationally televised news programs, and sit on the board of such organizations as the Massachusetts Physicians for Social Responsibility.  Stein’s activism has earned her many awards including the Clean Water Action’s “Not in Anyone’s Backyard” Award and the Toxic Action Center’s Citizen Award.

Stein was approached in 2002 by the Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party to run for governor of the state, and her acceptance marked her entry into the political sphere.  She has represented the party in two additional races, totaling some of the largest numbers of votes ever for a GP candidate. In 2003, she co-founded the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities, and in 2008 helped create the “Secure Green Ballot” initiative that asked lawmakers to make the establishment of a green economy a top priority.  Her “Green New Deal for America”, an idea rooted in Depression Era politics, is a four-part strategy designed to guide the economy out of crisis and establish a sustainable financial sector.

Cheri Honkala: Standing as one of the foremost leading advocates for the poor, Cheri Honkala is currently the National Coordinator for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.  Influenced by her personal experience as a homeless, single mother, she has dedicated nearly thirty years to build a movement to end poverty.  In 2011, she became the first woman to run for sheriff in Philadelphia and the only candidate to run on a “no evictions” platform. Honkala has received a number of awards for her social activism, and endorsed by Green Party and National Organization for Women.

Some retired basketball stars promote athletic shoes and sports drinks. Others, like former pro player Will Allen, become advocates for urban farming.  As the founder and CEO of Growing Power, Inc., Allen believes that all communities, regardless of social status or tax bracket, deserve access to nutritious and affordable food.  As the son of a sharecropper and ex-corporate sales leader, he has ample experience in both the agricultural and business sectors.  In 2008, he was awarded a “genius grant” by the John D. and Katherine T. McArthur Foundation for his efforts in furthering city farming.  He is also a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People”, and part of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign for childhood fitness.

Beginning with a plot in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Growing Power has now expanded to a handful of cities across the country, including urban centers in Mississippi, Massachusetts, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Georgia.  By establishing Community Food Centers, the organization hopes to engage citizens in food production.  Growing Power demonstrates growing methods through on-site workshops and satellite training programs.  They also run outreach programs and educational seminars to bring together farmers and members of the community.  Many of their youth programs and talks are operated by a base of dedicated volunteers who reside in the places where they teach.  In addition to instruction, Growing Power distributes fresh meats and produce through cooperatives and food security programs.

Growing Power is a treasure trove of information, and is a resource for everything from vermicomposting to aquaponics.  Their Milwaukee operation is host to national conferences throughout the year and is a hub for those seeking to inform and empower themselves through agriculture. The Wisconsin headquarters is powered by an array of solar cells, and currently pursuing generating power from the anaerobic digestion of microorganisms.  They are even beginning experiments with vertical farming in order to produce the maximum amount of food in areas with limited space.

Get inspired with Growing Power!  Create a backyard garden, or volunteer your time and expertise at a local cooperative.  San Luis Obispo residents may want to explore the Central Coast Grown’s site for information on local CSA’s, talks, and farming classes in our part of the state.  Go on and get your hands in the soil and feed your body, spirit, and community!