Archive for the ‘Plastic’ Category

Happy Earth Day – Have A Phone Book

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

phone books Happy Earth Day!

It would have been completely ironic for the Valley publishing company to deliver these monolith-sized stacks of phone books on Earth Day but that didn’t happen. They did make the trek from Fresno to doorsteps and sidewalks of San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. No doubt, many San Franciscans couldn’t wait for the newest page-turner. Who can’t live without their phone book these days?

We find humor in the fact that the 584 page of wasted paper states “This directory is 100% recyclable” in several places throughout the book. Of course it is, and so too are plastic bottles. Why even make this monstrosity at all? And speaking of plastic, we even enjoy receiving these phone books wrapped in plastic.

Maybe next time, the company can dip the phone books in oil before they deliver them to all of the customers who early await the next updated version.

And just a shout out to the Millions Against Monsanto event taking place in San Francisco Civic Center this Saturday April 23rd from 11 AM to 6 PM.

Happy Earth Day!

Opening Night San Francisco Green Film Festival – Bag It

Friday, March 4th, 2011

bag itIn the hopefully not so distant future when “paper or plastic” will be answered with “neither”, the documentary “Bag It” takes an in depth view of ubiquitous plastic bags. Actually the film graduates (with the scene from “The Graduate” about plastics) from an initial look at disposable plastic bag culture that the world lives in and moves into how plastic continues to envelop our lives, health and economy.

This relatively simple film rides on the back of director Suzan Beraza and front man Jeb Berrier. The film uses a variety of interviews, archive clips and even some animation to drive home the point that plastic bags and pretty much all plastic containers continue to take a toll on the environment, marine life and human health. Thanks to Berrier, the film floats along swimmingly as he represents an “everyman” from small town Colorado who isn’t a tree hugger but realizes that plastic has taken over his life and not for the better. Berrier comes off as a George Costanza (from Seinfeld) character with a wry sense of humor who learns how plastic strangles not only his life but also the world we live in.

In the latter half of the film, Bag It moves beyond plastic bags and looks at the pervasiveness of plastic and the toxic aspects without becoming too preachy. Director Beraza and Berrier even make fun of the American Chemical Council members for ducking all requests to appear in the film.

Bag It does a solid job of alerting viewers to chemical dangers of plastic ingredients like BPA and phthalates and offers solid interviews and explanations.

Bag It could have could have been double bagged with more of an emotional punch that would have raised this docu pic to a higher level. It also could have wrapped up with more of a group “call to action” so people can feel empowered against the chemical and plastic companies.

Bag It certainly does its best to educate and entertain audience members. With funny front man Berrier leading the charge, perhaps Bag It will do for plastic bags what Morgan Sperlock did for McDonald’s fast food.

Great Plastic Adventure Completes Journey

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
Plastiki arrival in Sydney

Plastiki arrival in Sydney

It seemed like just a short while ago that David De Rothschild set sail from San Francisco aboard his boat made of 12,500 plastic PET bottles, the Plastiki touched base in the planned destination of Sydney the other day.

De Rothschild and his crew completed the historic expedition in four legs: San Francisco – Kiribati – Western Samoa – New Caledonia before reaching the Australian Coast (Mooloolaba) on Monday 19 July and continuing on to Sydney. The innovative catamaran carrying a crew of six made its trip without major incident.

De Rothschild’s inspiration for this journey came after reading the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) report ‘Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Deep Waters and High Seas’. His journey included sailing through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

While most cruise ships maintain poor to awful records of creating pollution the Plastiki set out to educate people about the use and misuse of plastic bottles. The Plastiki which uses core principles of “cradle-to-cradle” design and biomimicry receives 68% of her buoyancy from 12,500 reclaimed plastic soft drink bottles and the super structure is made of a unique recyclable plastic material made from a self-reinforcing PET called Seretex.

Hopefully more people will put down their two liter plastic soda bottles to realize how much plastic we overuse in our throwaway society and how we can move toward inspired ideas as a sustainable alternative.

New Documentary “Tapped” Makes Bottled Water Look All Wet

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

While watching the new documentary “Tapped” with some of my other Greenies, we glanced at each other when one of the water rights experts used a notable quote courtesy of Mark Twain, “Whiskey is for sipping and water is for fighting.” So true, and the fighting will only get worse at least if you believe the water wars that will soon steal the headlines from the oil wars. Twain’s words echo much of the sentiment for this interesting, informative and thought provoking new docu flick.

Directed by Stephanie Soechtig, the film deconstructs the various aspects of the bottled water industry. Tapped examines the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on our health, climate change, pollution, and our reliance on oil. Unlike oil which people think of as a commodity, water hasn’t truly hasn’t been considered a commodity until recently. Although water wars and rights have become big news in various countries, Tapped jumps into the fray and pulls no punches right here in the U.S. The film targets (among others) the big three bottled water companies (Nestle, Coke and Pepsi who declined to be interviewed for the film), the International Bottled Water Association, and the FDA.

Tapped leaps right into water rights war between Swiss owned Nestle (who owns various bottle water brands including Poland Springs and Arrowhead) and the town of Fryeburg, ME. The film shows compelling footage and as well as local interviews which show that Nestle stealthy bought the rights to land in an effort to suck all of the water supply from the ground that it can without the consent or payment to the public. The film captures footage of tanker trucks quietly rolling into town but instead of loading up with black gold, they fill up with blue gold (H2O). Soechtig creates more drama as she displays the protests and grassroots movement demonstrations while showing and discussing the Nestle tactics.

They say that oil and water don’t mix, but nothing could be further from the truth when considering the plastic water bottles. The film flows with information about the hazardous materials found in the petroleum based plastic water bottles. Most companies produce water bottles using BPA which as the film claims can causes cancer, brain disorders and diabetes among other diseases. Even though the FDA claims that small levels of BPA to be safe that approval is based upon two chemical company studies. We loved the footage of Senator John Kerry grilling an FDA employee about the lack of third party, independent studies that the FDA uses to determine the safety of various plastic water bottle ingredients.

Speaking of the FDA, the bottled water does not fall under FDA jurisdiction as far as water quality, and it’s horrifying to watch the FDA spokespeople (as well as the spokespeople from the International Bottled Water Association) refuse to answer or simple gloss over questions about various studies and quotes about the quality of the water and the containers. It’s pretty much a self regulated industry so caveat emptor to all bottled water drinkers.

The film also pulls a few heart strings when Soechtig interviews local residents in Corpus Christi who live next to the largest private manufacturer of plastic water bottles. The documentary makes a strong case that the manufacturer looms as a sort of plastic Three Mile Island for the local residents who deal with various diseases and defects because of their proximity.

Tapped surprises with info about the worldwide effects of plastic water bottles (i.e. the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is only one of five ocean plastic zones in the oceans) as well and lots of insider info from various experts and even an ex-FDA employee.  At some points the film becomes a bit repetitive as it encircles the same points but overall the film offers keen insight into the bottle water industry and leaves the companies making the bottles, sucking the water from the ground, and regulating the industry looking all wet.

David de Rothschild Discusses His Upcoming Plastiki Voyage

Monday, June 8th, 2009

For those who say that plastic is evil or plastic represents the devil then those proactive types can do one of two things – 1) educate people about why not to use, buy or sell plastic goods (a tough assignment) or 2) use the plastic that we have for some other useful purpose. Plastic is everywhere but as much as we would like to wave a wand a make it disappear, the fact is that the “devils material” it is going to be here for a while so let’s with it.

David de Rothschild seeks to change the perception of plastic. He has created a plastic love boat named the Plastiki which he discussed in depth in a presentation/lecture a couple nights ago at San Francisco’s Academy of Sciences. De Rothschild plans to sail his boat, made almost entirely from reused plastic bottles, from Pier 31 in San Francisco, through the Great Eastern Garbage Patch to Sydney, Australia. (more…)