Are you getting ready for Earth Day weekend? Earth Day is on April 22nd, the weekend we speak of is April 20th to 21st. If you live in NYC (or are visiting) then here are 2 cleanup events that we are organizing or facilitating. These events will make you realize your power as a human and as a community. You will leave feeling like a steward for the environment.
This is Stay Blooming’s first ever cleanup event taking place at Ferry Point Park in Bronx, NY. It is in collaboration with Marjorie Velazquez of the borough. We put this event together to bring people into this lesser known park. It has a lot of visitors during the warmer months and is mostly used for its soccer fields and fourth of July views. Although there are plans for the MTA Ferry to service this part of the Bronx in 2021, the park can still use a lot of attention with its growing usage.
The second is a Veggie Mijas event that I am organizing and walking through. This even includes a mini recycling lesson and requires participants to RSVP beforehand. I organized the event to take place in Pelham Bay Park as it is a local park that I frequented growing up. It also features a bunch of back trails that are good for hiking and riding bike. Although this is a well known park and a well known area, the back trails do not get cleaned up like the BBQ sections and picnicking parts of the park.
The purpose of getting involved for Earth Day weekend is to learn how to treat out earth better. It is to raise awareness for issues like pollution, overconsumption, and climate change. When we are able to act out good deeds that promote a positive trajectory for our earth, then we are making that positive future more likely. Raising awareness can be teaching a workshop, a cleanup, community gardening, etc. The scale of the awareness does not matter, it only matters that it is happening. That
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Plastic was created for the sake of human convenience.
Invented in 1898 and popularized in the 1960s, plastic replaced heavy materials (such as metal) and has since been used for nearly anything, everywhere (The Atlantic, 2014). It’s used so much that plastic pollution has become a prominent issue for the entire world—coastal cities are the first to face face those consequences. Widespread use is seen as a need for consumers but what most consumers don’t actually realize is, there is a larger cost for this “convenience.”
Considering the amount of technology that exists and how much smarter we about our earth, we have the resources to stray away from plastic use–or to at least begin the rollback of using it. The fate of our natural world honestly depends on it.
The changes that we need to see in an environmental respect are possible. Using less plastic though, requires some planning for businesses as well as for individuals. But since individuals can make the changes much more quicker than in large companies, where should we begin with them?
Each and everyone of us are consumers. Whether we are buying frequently or not… even trends constantly generate business. We create the demand for businesses to give us what we want and that’s the same exact rhetoric I’m implying we use here. As consumers, we need to show businesses where they are at fault, where they can do better, and that the change is necessary.
Greenpeace is doing exactly that by putting big business markets on blast with their #PointlessPlastic project. By using your social media platforms, share proof of excess plastic using the hashtag #PointlessPlastic and tag the big chains responsible (like Trader Joe’s or Costco). Below are examples of what excess plastic looks like:
Greenpeace is also featuring photos (a small incentive) but something larger is surely developing. Projects like this create awareness no matter how little. They raise questions in people who are unfamiliar with environmental issues. They force people to reflect on their decisions that can ultimately contribute to plastic pollution. Do you want to get involved? Click here to download Greenpeace’s action toolkit. Or, if you’d like to submit a #PointlessPlastic photo to the organization, click here.
Get your reusable bags ready because a plastic bag fee is likely coming to New York City. The fee is part of an effort to prevent plastic bags from polluting our environment. Large corporations, politicians, and everyday shoppers, like you and me, have resisted proposals to charge shoppers for plastic bags (NY Times, 2017). But it is important to learn about why this is beneficial for the environment. We will see that it is not as catastrophic as we think.
Plastic bags are expected to outweigh fish in the ocean by the year 2050 and 80% of that plastic was originally “land-based trash” (NYSPBTF Report, 2018:2). As if that’s not motivating enough, the economics behind this say that businesses spend up to $4 billion each year on purchasing plastic bags. That’s along with recyclable handling recovery facilities spending amounts ranging from $250K to $750K in maintenance and cleaning due to plastic bags (NYSPBTF Report, 2018:2).
The bill to charge 5 cents per plastic bag was originally introduced by City Council in 2014. Ongoing development between the City Council, the Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management, and the Mayor, included several hearings, amendments, and approvals. It was finally passed over two years later on June 5, 2016.
The law requiring a fee of 5 cents per bag was supported by our City’s Council members as well as our Mayor, Bill de Blasio, so what could possibly go wrong? The plastic bag fee was killed before it even launched. (NY Times, 2017). The new law was rescinded by Governor Andrew Cuomo when he signed a bill that killed the fee immediately. He felt it was “deeply flawed” as it allowed business owners to keep the 5 cents which could amount to $100 million in profits (McKinley, 2017).
Not only did Cuomo insist on revamping the law, but he suggested making the plastic bag fee statewide. Cuomo promises direction, giving some hope to environmentalists and the City Council members who say they felt defeated by state government and “characterized the move as a classic case of Albany’s overreach” (McKinley, 2017).
But what do shoppers think of the plastic bag fee? I interviewed a frequent shopper about the potential statewide legislation. She expressed to me that she did majority of the food shopping in her household and always used plastic bags to take home. When I asked her about a plastic bag fee of 5 cents per bag she stated, “I feel the plastic bag fee should be imposed. It would push more people to start using reusable bags.” We spoke on how the legislation would prevent plastic pollution and she completely supported the cause. A much more optimistic shopper than I had anticipated, Ms. Alamo also was ready to make the switch to reusable bags exclusively.
A consumer’s opinion on the plastic bag fee depends on his or her environmental consciousness. Voters need to understand why decisions are being made and how they actually affect them—without that there may always be a pushback (NY Times, 2017).
The questions that consumers need to be answered include:
• What’s wrong with single-use plastic?
• How are plastic bags affecting the environment?
• How will the plastic bag fee help?
The New York State Plastic Bag Task Force Report: An Analysis of the Impact of Single-Use Plastic Bags covers all of these questions in detail. It provides information for each legislation option, giving business owners choices with how to apply the plastic bag fee including pros and cons. The legislative options also explore the tedious details with strengthening existing recycling, enforcing manufacturer responsibility, bag fees, etc.
What’s wrong with single-use plastic and how are plastic bags affecting the environment? The report answers exactly that, plastic bags are already creating a number of problems we can see for ourselves today (NYSPBTF Report, 2018:2). They are made from fossil fuels from being manufacturing to being distributed to businesses. They are found littered on land, in small waterways, and in large bodies of water. Plastic pollution affects wildlife by disturbing natural habitats and life cycle events. This can be from littering or due to chemicals leeching out from the plastic (NYSPBTF Report, 2018: 2).
With considering that heavy load of information, we need to start thinking like conscious consumers. But people are afraid of what could be the negative results from a plastic bag fee. Assemblyman Luis R. Sepulveda says, “A 5-cent tax is a burden on many of our poor people and many of our seniors” (NY Times, 2017). Some are concerned with paying and some do not want their convenience to be tampered with.
In 2016, the state of California imposed both a “flimsy, single-use plastic bag” ban and also a plastic bag fee that charged consumers 10-cents for a “thicker, reusable plastic bag” (LA Times, 2017). Although there was initially push back, ideas of reusable bags causing bacterial outbreaks, and thoughts of low-income families not being to afford a plastic bag, no one went broke. The plastic bags in collected litter in California also went down from 7.4% of plastic bags in litter to 3.1% of plastic bags in litter. (LA Times, 2017).
California has shown New York City it is possible. Instead of worrying about the mass hysteria of shoppers, we need to consider our city’s environmental health. With 8.5 million people, it is New York City’s duty to follow standards that protect our environment.
This year, it seems that New York’s Governor Cuomo may finally be getting it. A recent article by the New York Post stated that Cuomo is “considering a statewide ban on plastic bags to help curb unnecessary trash” (New York Post, 2018). Although it isn’t a commitment on a plastic bag fee, it is a step in the right direction. Could you imagine New York City becoming a leader in the environmental movement?
Sources Alamo, Liza. Personal interview. 01 May 2018. Campanile, Carl. “Cuomo considering statewide ban on plastic bags.” New York Post, Mar 2018. May 2018. https://nypost.com/2018/03/05/cuomo-considering-statewide-ban-on-plastic-bags/. McKinley, Jesse. “Cuomo Blocks New York City Plastic Bag Law.” The New York Times, Feb 2017. May 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/nyregion/cuomo-blocks-new-york-city-plastic-bag-law.html. The Times Editorial Board. “It’s been a year since California banned single-use plastic bags. The world didn’t end.” The Los Angeles Times, Nov 2017. May 2018. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-plastic-bag-ban-anniversary-20171118-story.html. United States, Department of Environmental Conservation. New York State Plastic Bag Task Force Report: An Analysis of the Impact of Single-Use Plastic Bags. New York State, 13 Jan 2018.
1. Combating poverty is a central goal because poverty reduces access to healthcare, education, and other essential components of development.
2. Reducing resource consumption is a global consideration, but wealthy regions are responsible for most of the world’s consumption. For example, the United States and Europe have less than 15 percent of the world’s population, but these regions consume about half of the world’s metals, food, energy, and other resources.
3. Population growth leads to ever-greater resources demands, because all people need some resources. Better family planning, ensuring that all children are wanted, is a matter of justice, resource supply, and economic and social stability for states as well as for families.
4. Healthcare, especially for children and mothers, is essential for a productive life. Underdeveloped areas can lead to disease, accidents, respiratory and digestive impairments, and other conditions. Without health, economic security is a risk, and poverty can persist through generations.
5. Sustainable cities are key because over half of humanity now lives in cities. Sustainable development involves ensuring that cities are healthy places to live and that they cause minimal environmental impact.
6. Environmental policy needs to guide decision making in local and national governments, to ensure that environmental quality is protected before it gets damaged, and to set agreed-upon rules for resource use.
7. Protection of the atmosphere is essential for minimizing the rate of climate change and for reducing impacts of air pollution on people, plants, and infrastructure.
8. Combating deforestation and protection biodiversity go together because much of the world’s biodiversity is in forests. We also depend on forests for water resources, climate regulation, and resources including food, wood, medicines, and building materials. Other key zones of biodiversity include coral reefs, wetlands, and coastal areas.
9. Combating desertification and drought through better management of water resources can save farms, ecosystems, and lives. Often removal of vegetation and soil loss make drought worse, and a few bad rainfall years can convert a landscape to desertlike conditions.
10. Agriculture and rural development affect the lives of the nearly half of humanity who don’t live in cities. Improving conditions for billions of rural people, including more sustainable farming systems, soil stewardship to help stabilize yields, and access to lands, can help reduce populations in urban slums.
Social responsibility is always on my mind. The reason why I write is because of social responsibility. The reason why I feel a strong desire to educate people about the environment and self-care is due to social responsibility. The reason why I devote my time to express what are non-traditional ideas is all owed to social responsibility. So what is social responsibility and why is it important?
Social responsibility is the act of taking initiative to deal with urgent social and environmental issues without it being outwardly enforced; it is a voluntary job.
There are many different ways that people can choose to exercise taking initiative, it depends on the problem they’re trying to combat. Most people will confront the issue at a local level which means within the communities nearest to/surrounding them. While some will confront issues in a much bigger manner, involving federal/state government representatives or non-profit organizations. Whatever the way, one of social responsibility’s main goal is to create awareness.
We currently live in a society that sees major change come from the bottom up. We are constantly fighting for humanitarian causes or for justice from the government. Corporations are quick to do what it takes to keep making money… even if it means taking advantage of people who don’t see the existing viscous cycles. Change lies in social responsibility and that’s why it’s important.
Social responsibility can be a 5-minute beach clean-up. It can be food or clothing drives to donate to families in need or the homeless. It can be getting neighbors to sign a petition for change your community desperately needs. It can be teaching a class how to garden and plant their own food. It can be peaceful protesting, activism, and/or strikes. The variations are endless as the list goes on.
So what can you do? I think it’s a lot more than you realize you’re capable…
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