10
Dec

Should We Get Behind Plastic Bag Bans?

by Tiffany in Political Action

 

When it comes to Government legislation I don’t tow any particular party line. I like to look at each situation individually and make up my mind. That means I may end up voting against implementing something like a smoking ban in bars (even though I think the habit is beyond disgusting) because I don’t feel my it’s my right to make a private business owner do things my way and I can always opt out of bar hopping if I want to limit exposure right? If I lived in California I would have voted yes on Prop 37 though, which would have forced food companies to label GMOs in their products because we ALL have a right to know what we are eating. No company should be able to be “mysterious” about food ingredients.

On both sides of issues like these you see the push for doing what is right, what is moral, and what is healthy for everyone. On the flip side you hear about how jobs will be lost and costs will go up when companies go under or pass the buck on to the consumer. All of it has to be considered and weighed carefully. We also have to be able to see when the arguments coming out of one of the camps are compete and utter horse crap (as in the case of those arguing against Prop 37). Sometimes people and planet HAVE to come before profit if we want to lead our children into a better world.

This is how I feel about plastic bags bans. I am for them in every instance.

Plastic bags present a huge planetary problem and the solution (a reusable bag) is so easy that it makes no sense not to do something NOW. These bags are ending up in our oceans and killing marine life. Birds and other animals (wild and domestic) can also ingest them and die because they are everywhere. It is estimated that many cities around the world are spending millions of dollars each year just to manage plastic bag litter because the patrons who use them are too lazy to make sure they end up being recycled or even taken to a landfill. They do property damage when they cause traffic accidents on the road or they get sucked in boat engines. They require lots of natural gas or oil to manufacture too. They are wasteful all around and an eyesore to look at, and let’s face it plastic bag litter is a problem everywhere.

I don’t want us to live in a nanny state any more than you do but I think we (as a race) have already shown that we cannot handle the responsibility of plastic bags and since they are plastic and likely to be around long after we have left this earth do we really have a right to use them and impact the planet and future generations in such a way? I say no. It’s time to ban them.

This great Pros and Cons chart from Factory Direct Promos makes the argument better than I ever could.

Reusable bags are a viable option for this problem. They cost very little and they last for a long time. Everyone can put on their big boy pants and big girl panties are start carrying their own bags to the store. There are no valid argument for why they shouldn’t have to…at least in my mind.

Which brings me to bag ban activism. Many cities are catching on to the fact that this legislation is sorely needed and the aforementioned company, Factory Direct Promos, has an awesome Plastic Bag Ban Map that helps keep you up to date on the latest legislation so you can help support this movement. It shows where they have been passed and where they have failed. It also shows where bag fees have been initiated instead. I have no problem with charging for plastic bags instead of banning them. Both are a step in the right direction…fewer plastic bags being consumed!

Until some of these initiatives reach our neck of the woods we can also do our part by using cloth bags ourselves and by gifting them to others so that they too can get with the program. One of my fave products is a cloth basket that fits inside a shopping cart and eliminates the need for bags altogether. Here are two in use by me and my family at Whole Foods…

We just put them inside the shopping cart when we arrive and then fill them as we shop. Everything goes onto the belt for scanning and payment and then everything is just put back inside the baskets. They come out of cart by using the handles and they go inside the trunk and are carried in the house just as they are. So easy!

If these are too pricey there are numerous affordable options on the market. There are even some that take the place of the produce bags that you put your loose apples, green beans, and mushrooms in. They are called EcoBags. Love them!

Cloth Produce Bags
 

All of these make great gifts or products for yourself. It is important to use them and show others (including our own families) that it is important to do our our part to reduce plastic bag usage and pollution. The bag problem is just too big to ignore and until more people own this issue I will support bag bans and bag fees at every turn. I hope you will too!

This post is part of the Give the gift of a Plastic-Free World This Holiday and Join the Plastic Bag Ban Movement! blog carnival. Enjoy!

Monday, December 10th, 2012

4 Comments

9
Nov

Support Malala Day on November 10th

by Tiffany in Political Action

I will be the first to admit that I am terribly bad about following what is going on outside my own local bubble. I don’t watch the news at all and what little exposure I do get to worldwide events is usually filtered through Facebook. That said, even I took notice when Malala Yousafzai, a sweet 14 year old schoolgirl in Pakistan, was brutally shot by the Taliban in retaliation for promoting girls’ education in her country.

I have an 8 year old daughter so this event really hit home for me. I am thankful that my daughter and I were born into the country and world view that we were. We are so fortunate and not everyone is so lucky. Many, many other young girls and women are born into a world were they must fight for even the most basic rights…such as the right to a good education. Millions of young children, but especially young girls, all over the world are denied access to education. When we hear this we are concerned and outraged but we have little idea if there is anything we personally can do to help.

Well, on November 10th we have the opportunity to unify and be heard in support of young Malala. Here is how you can help:

  • Sign the petition to call on Pakistan to agree to a plan to deliver education to all its children:
  • Spread the word. Inform your audience of the #IamMalala campaign and invite them to sign the petition.
  • Spend November 10th in solidarity for Malala Day. Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown – the UN Special Envoy for Global Education – and his wife Sarah will deliver this petition to the Pakistani president on this day.
On November 10th let’s honor Malala and other young children who are in similar situations…

This post was written as a member of the Global Team of 200 – Mom Bloggers for Social Good.

Friday, November 9th, 2012

No Comments

7
Nov

Prop 37 Was Defeated But We Still Have 3 Votes a Day

by Tiffany in Political Action

Last night (election night) was a very exciting night but also frustrating at the same time. I am pretty darn happy with how everything went down from the Presidential election to the Senate race in my state of Ohio. Over the moon in fact. Yet I am also very saddened and frustrated with how Prop 37 went down in California. A yes vote on Prop 37 would have meant that GMO foods would have to be labeled in that state. Californians would now know for sure if they were eating GMO foods. It seems like a no brainer to want to know what you are in fact eating but proponents of Prop 37…ie Monsanto, biochem businesses, and large food chains…don’t want you to know just how far down this GMO rabbit hole goes. They threw billions of dollars at the problem and ran all kinds of deceptive ads so that people would be afraid their food costs would sky rocket if they voted yes.

I think the whole country was watching with baited breath because if this proposition passed in California then many were hopeful it could be passed in other states afterwards. Now, after it’s failure, I think the mood is somber. If liberal, health minded, California cannot pass a GMO labeling law then what hope is there for the rest of us??? Does Monsanto, big agricorp, and the chain food industry have us over a barrel for all time???

Well, they won big time yesterday but they did it with lies and deception. Their “product” is suspect at best and dangerous at worst. The truth will come out of we keep fighting daily to expose it and just because they won this big battle does not mean we have to give up the war. Now is the time to fight even harder so they know loud and clear that we will not go away.

Not labeling GMOs in our food is like agreeing that there is nothing wrong with eating the mystery slop everyday. Oh heck no! No to the mystery slop and no to GMOs. We can keep the fight going with our three daily votes (meals). We have to get better at boycotting and being really loud (and perhaps slightly obnoxious) when telling friends and family about why they too need to say no to companies that use GMOs and to companies that contributed to the downfall of Prop 37. It’s time to hurt em where it counts… as my son would say, in the nuggets. The wallet in this case actually.

We will not be willing lab rats and neither will our children.

To find out which companies funneled money to the fight against labeling laws on Prop 37 visit this LA Times page. It lists them all. Who made the list? Oh just the usual suspects… Monsanto, Kraft, Dow, Pepisco, Dupont, Nesle, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Heinz and many, many more.

I started things off in my own home by evaluating all processed products that I still buy. Not many actually. I got rid of LaraBars two months ago because their parent company was on this list. That was hard but I did it. I eat pastured eggs every morning before CrossFit instead of a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip LaraBar. It has been a change for the better.

This morning I looked at the only three remaining products I buy processed from large chains…the rest is pretty much farm fresh or small independent and ethical companies (ie Nativas Naturals and Tropical Traditions). Those three products are Cabot yogurt, Chobani yogurt, and Zico Coconut Water.

Cabot appears to be independently owned by a co-op out of Vermont and Chobani also appears to be independently owned. Both are most likely using GMO feed for their dairy cows though. I am assuming this with Cabot because something like 80-90% of animal feed is GMO, which is why we always try to eat grassfed and pastured animal products. These two products though were always my exception because frankly they taste way better than any other brands. Chobani was recently asked on their Facebook page by Mamavation rockstar Leah Segedie if they feed their cows GMO feed and their response was that they have no way of knowing. Pfft! Anyway, one of my goals for the new year is to perfect my homemade Greek yogurt skills and until such time, buy local grassfed yogurt from Whole Foods.

Zico is the toughie. I LOVE Zico’s Dark Chocolate Coconut Water. Loooooove it! I have some almost every day at the gym and we buy it in bulk at Trader Joe’s. BUT I just found out today that they were recently purchased by Coca-Cola, who funneled many thousands of dollars to defeat the labeling law in question. So I am so sorry Zico and I will miss you greatly but you have got to go. I will either buy Amy and Brian’s which I also love or I will make my own. Nativas Naturals has an awesome new freeze dried coconut water powder on the market that you just add to water. It’s so yummy that I have to keep my husband from eating it out of the bag with a spoon. AND… Nativas Naturals donated to pass Prop 37! I feel proud to have them in my pantry…

 

We could even experiment with making our own dark chocolate with organic dark chocolate. Stay tuned to this blog for those experiments. :0)

Make sure to sign up for notifications from Just Label It! for the latest news about labeling laws.

Who else is ready to come out of the election fighting???

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

10 Comments

19
Oct

Exotic Animals Escape in Ohio

by Tiffany in Political Action

If you have been watching the news you may have seen a story about what happened in Zanesville, OH yesterday. Zanesville is less than 50 miles away from where I live (and we have family there) so I watched with horror as this all unfolded. A man who was incredulously permitted to own well over 50 exotic animals decided to let them loose and then take his own life. Before he killed himself he opened cages for 48 animals including grizzly bears, wolves, lions, Bengal tigers, and chimps.

I don’t know what the man was thinking but if he thought he was doing them a kindness by setting them loose then he was very much mistaken. When it was discovered what he had done it was dark and the weather was stormy. This meant that authorities had little choice but to shoot and kill all the animals they could find. Then the next day they killed the rest, minus a wolf or two that are still at large. I was so sad all morning after I found out that the solution was to kill all these beautiful animals. I know we couldn’t allow them to roam free and then freak out on innocent people but still… it breaks my heart.

And then after the sadness came the anger. What you may not hear on the news is that our current Governor and the local authorities are responsible for this.

I am pretty disgusted with my state right now. We USED to have a kick ass Democratic Governor and in January he put an emergency ban on exotic animal ownership in Ohio. This did not apply to those who already owned them BUT it also stated that any current owner who was convicted of cruelty to animals would have their animals confiscated. Our new Republican Governor decided to let this ban expire and he tabled it. This angers me because I don’t believe any citizen should be able to decide they want to keep Bengal tigers and Grizzly Bears in their backyard… it is insanity and it is cruelty to animals. This man supposedly had 18 Bengal Tigers!!! 18 for cripes sake… all dead now. If our law enforcement officials and our Governor were not total dunces, legislation would have been in place AND these animals would have been removed from this man’s property since he was convicted of cruelty to animals in 2005.

The Humane Society is calling for some action on this. If you live in Ohio I encourage you to complain, complain, complain until someone makes sure this never happens again.

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

5 Comments

30
Jun

Shopping for World Change

by Tiffany in Political Action

Hot on the heels of a post about minimalism, I am posting about the benefits of ethical shopping. Aren’t the two mutually exclusive? I don’ think so.

We have so many problems globally and nationally that are a direct result of addiction to consumption. We are literally spending ourselves into a deeper, darker hole every year. Deciding to go minimalist is a wonderful step in combating this issue because it allows us to take a time out and evaluate what our values are. Once we see that “things” do not bring us happiness we can concentrate on our families, our hobbies, and all the activities and pastimes that truly add to the enjoyment of our lives… things which cannot be packaged in paper or plastic. With less consumption comes less stress about money and keeping up with a lifestyle that advertisements tell you should be your goal. Getting out of that consumer trap is very liberating and brings a sense of true freedom.

But I liken this tactic to going into a restaurant and being very dissatisfied with the way they do business so you simply decide to avoid eating out any more. The eatery will lose many customers but there will always be some who decide that what this particular place offers is the best their gonna get and keep going there. The eatery will also open up a few other locations under different names so that unhappy customers will think they are taking their business elsewhere but in actuality they are still supporting the same bad company. Nothing much changes. You could decide though that you will eat out on special occasions but only at places you have thoroughly vetted and that meet your demands for ethical business practices. You could also encourage your friends to eat at the winning places you have found. The bad business will start to notice that they are losing customers to these other businesses and will be none to happy. Even after extensive ad campaigns they see their competition getting an increasingly greater share of the market. They have no choice but to change the way they do business or become obsolete. By being picky about where you spend your hard earned dollars and by being vocal about your choices, you have made a difference in the mammoth job of changing the current economic system. Minimalism didn’t do that, conscious, ethical shopping did that.

In my mind minimalism and reducing our overall consumption are necessary steps in curbing our consumption addiction. But it will also be advantageous for us to be cognizant of the rest of our spending so that we make sure we get the most bang for our buck. We need to use both of these philosophies to create real change. This is more important than ever because we do not live in a capitalist society anymore. What we have here in the US is corporate socialism. Mega corporations have an unfair advantage in the market because they have people firmly entrenched in the fifth arm of the government. As Annie Leonard stated in The Story of Stuff

In the United States there are about 900 advisory committees that provide peer review of scientific research, develop policy recommendations, and serve other functions to support good governance.

These committees influence legislation and policy in this country and corporations have a presence in all of them. There is no free market or open competition, not when the deck is stacked that way. We need to become activists for change in making sure corporations are not directing important policy, especially when it comes to the environment and human health. This can be done in large part by backing good legislation and making lots of noise about bad products and practices. The other thing we can do is funnel our money to companies who make ethical choices and who use their profits to better the world. It will not go unnoticed!

Even people who don’t have the time to volunteer, petition, picket, etc. can support ethical companies and causes by using their dollars as a voting mechanism. It is the easiest form of activism and frankly it drives me a little batty that more people don’t step up and USE the leverage that we all have. Why is the average mom okay with buying some Stouffer’s stuffing boxes and Nestle chocolate bars knowing that those dollars will go towards pushing formula in third world countries and to enslaving older children in labor? Would they feel the same if the boxes had pictures of malnourished babies and 12 year olds forced to work on cocoa plantations for 8 hours a day? We need to stop believing in the marketing and the pretty packaging and start finding out where our money is going and what it supports. Then we can decide who is worthy of our money and who is not.

A wonderful book that addresses this issue is Big Green Purse – Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World by Diane MacEachern. I have known Diane from green listservs and the blogging community for awhile and she is one incredibly smart cookie… plus her book ROCKS. It doesn’t encourage senseless spending or rampant consumerism but it does address the fact that everyone is still going to spend money on the products that matter to them. If money talks then we need to be aware of what our money is saying. It is all about using the power of our purses to affect change.

In the beginning chapters there are some great examples of how people influenced large companies to change their policies and/or product formulations to meet the demand of more ethical and aware consumers. It shows us that change is possible. I also like that is has a very measurable action plan in the book to decide to shift $1000 of your annual spending to green products. Its all about taking the products you already buy and will continue to buy and finding a better alternative. The first chapter goes over eco problems that can be addressed by reducing what you consume in the first place. The second chapter shows you how to evaluate companies and avoid greenwashing so you can narrow in on the best companies and products. Chapters 3-12 go through all the areas where you can shift your spending… cars, clothing, food, cosmetics, personal care products, cleaners, etc and shows you what to look for and what to avoid so you can make the best choice.

It is an important subject and an important book. I highly recommend it!

Pictured above: My fave Shopping cart baskets.

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

8 Comments