May 26, 2014
by Peggy
Comments Off on The Beautiful, Reusable Glass Bottle

The Beautiful, Reusable Glass Bottle

I’m attracted to reusable glass bottles and growlers. What’s not to like? Glass is a wonderful packaging option because it’s inert (no chemical leaching) and infinitely reusable over its lifetime. It can be recycled in a closed loop if it … Continue reading

July 1, 2013
by Peggy
Comments Off on Recognizing the Value of Reuse

Recognizing the Value of Reuse

I recently tuned into an EPA webinar about valuing “stuff,” featuring Madalyn Cioci of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The main point of her presentation was that for far too long, we have considered reuse simply a means to … Continue reading

The Ridiculous Death Threat

April 8, 2013 by Peggy | Comments Off on The Ridiculous Death Threat

Did you read it in the newspaper recently? Deaths in San Francisco Spike—Bag Bans to Blame!  It might be scary if it were true.

Red Reusable Bag with Produce

Via Flickr. CC Attribution, Non-commercial, Share -alike by MD Anderson’s Focused on Health

The “big scoop” arises from a study commissioned by the American Chemistry Council (a trade group that represents plastic manufacturers) of 84 reusable bags used for grocery shopping that were tested in Arizona in 2009. The bags were sampled for the following bacteria: listeria, salmonella and E. coli.  No listeria or salmonella were found, but E. coli was found in seven bags.  What kind of E. coli? Dr. Susan Fernyak, director of San Francisco’s Communicable Disease and Control Prevention division, was interviewed by NPR and stated that the study failed to identify the type of E. coli in the bags, “a significant shortcoming.”  According to the CDC, most strains of E. coli are harmless.

Nevertheless, those philosophically and financially opposed to bag bans have made much of the American Chemistry Council study and it keeps popping up, years later, and needing to be aired out all over again.

In 2012, a lawyer/economist named Jonathan Klick and a colleague, Joshua Wright, suggested a link between San Francisco’s plastic bag ban and the city’s death rate from foodborne illness. I find this dramatic video risible, but if you can believe it, blogger Andrew Sullivan had linked to it in a post last year (that’s how I first came to see this), with the shocking “news” of a reusable bag health crisis occurring in San Francisco. 

In early February of this year, conservative writer Ramesh Ponnuru published an opinion piece in the Denver Post entitled “The Disgusting Consequences of Plastic-Bag Bans” re-hashing the ACC study and hyping the death threat angle. (“Klick and Wright estimate that the San Francisco [bag] ban results in a 46 percent increase in deaths from foodborne illnesses….”) This time San Francisco’s Department of Public Health felt compelled to respond with a detailed memo to illustrate unequivocally that Klick and Wright’s conclusion was “not warranted.”

In spite of this, Professor Klick (he teaches at Penn Law) is still out there promoting his hypothesis that reusable bags pose a serious health risk. The March/April 2013 issue of the Penn Gazette features Klick’s  outlandish speculation in an article titled “Getting to the Bottom of the Bag,” and of course makes no mention of the San Francisco Department of Health’s take down. champions the BYOR (Bring Your Own Reusable) ethic, so we love reusable bags.  Bringing your own shopping bag is one of the most effective ways to limit unnecessary waste of resources and to reduce environmental damage, human health effects and pollution associated with the life cycle of plastics.

To ensure your bags aren’t harboring any bad bacteria it’s a good idea to wash them periodically with soap and water. Another good way to avoid risk of foodborne illness is to wash or cook your food, and wash your hands before eating. But we bet you already knew that.

February 24, 2013
by Peggy
Comments Off on Water Bottle Rundown

Water Bottle Rundown

I’ve been doing a lot of research recently on reusable water bottle options, and thought it was worthwhile sharing. Many of us have already adopted a reusable tumbler or water bottle that we bring along with us every day. So … Continue reading

December 11, 2012
by Peggy
Comments Off on Book Recommendation: “Plastic Free, How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too”

Book Recommendation: “Plastic Free, How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too”

I’ve just finished reading Beth Terry’s new book, an inspiring guide to rethinking our plastic-laden lives. Plastic is an amazing invention—-so light! so resilient! so malleable! But the fact is, we’ve gone way overboard with this material. I won’t argue … Continue reading

December 4, 2012
by Peggy
Comments Off on Refillable Bottles: An Idea Whose Time has Come, Again!

Refillable Bottles: An Idea Whose Time has Come, Again!

  One of the most disconcerting developments in the news lately has been Coca-Cola’s determined transition away from its iconic refillable glass bottle and to its new-fashioned plastic “PlantBottle.”  On September 27th, Coke announced a major investment in the manufacture … Continue reading

August 23, 2012
by Peggy
Comments Off on Know Your Plastics: #1 PET

Know Your Plastics: #1 PET

Plastic #1.  PET or PETE, sometimes now also rPET (containing some recycled content) is short for Polyethylene Terephthalate.  Most plastic soda and water bottles are made of PET, as are many food containers.  Although ten U.S. states have bottle deposit … Continue reading

August 10, 2012
by Peggy
Comments Off on Party Kits for Elementary School Classrooms

Party Kits for Elementary School Classrooms

If you have time to be in your children’s classrooms —especially during times of celebration–you quickly notice the huge disconnect between the green talk and the everyday walk at school.  Our children are often taught about doing what’s right for … Continue reading

July 23, 2012
by Peggy
Comments Off on Forgot your Reusable?

Forgot your Reusable?

In a brilliant 30 minute interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, Edward Humes, author of the new book, Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash, expounds on America’s position as the leading producer of garbage in the world.  Toward the end … Continue reading

June 22, 2012
by Peggy
Comments Off on Waste-free Events Going Strong this Summer

Waste-free Events Going Strong this Summer

Summer’s here!  Exciting music festivals, rustic camping trips, and sunlit picnics are in many people’s plans. Something else is afoot, and we’re thrilled about it.  It’s the rise of the waste-free event.  We’ve all attended big events, so we know … Continue reading