You may have heard the Village of Atlantic Beach, NY passed an anti-plastic-bag law last week.
You might be surprised to hear we are not cheering. It calls for a ban on all except “biodegradable” checkout bags.
We’re sure the Village are well intended. It sounds great… except there is actually no such thing as biodegradable plastic, at least not as you might reasonably expect the word “biodegradable” to mean
This will cause more problems than it solves.
We honor the heartfelt campaign from locals Kevin Kelley and others for a fee or ban on all checkout bags. This “bio” option sounds good on the surface, until you think it through. You then realize it creates unintended consequences and eliminates little single use waste from going into our environment.
Why isn’t it good policy?
Merchants complying with it who care about the viability of, or prefer to avoid confrontation over “biodegradable” plastic bags will likely go to paper, which is worse for the environment overall, except that it biodegrades. It leaves them few good options and puts the problem on them.
Paper will bring merchants’ cost for a bag from 2-3 cents to 12-25 cents. These costs will be passed on to everyone, drastically increasing the current >hidden< bag tax. All shoppers pay, so some can take bags they’re going to throw away.
Increasing merchant costs like this creates financial incentive to not comply with the law. Instead, had they instituted a fee it would reimburse them ONLY for bags used, which people pay for as they take them. Capitalists used to call this “purchasing them” which is what happens under a mandatory fee for all bags. No one loses their freedom of choice. Some devout capitalists insist they’re entitled to a “free” bag everyone else pays for- go figure! The fee simply covers the merchant’s costs of storing and supplying the bag and administering the process as a partner in making a cleaner environment. To make it their problem is bad policy.
From our laypersons “legal” view, based on policy and what hasn’t worked elsewhere, this law provides no definition of “biodegradeable” which the Federal Trade Commission says cannot be used to market plastic materials. At best, it invites debate at the point of sale, skirting the law on the grounds of free speech as to what one might assert “biodegradable” means, or at worst, lawsuits from vested industry interests a small village may not withstand that would vacate the law and cost them to fight.
I’m sure when you hear “biodegradable” any rational person would think that means it just “poof” melts(?) away and harmlessly disappears? Reality is, it just doesn’t. It’s greenwashing to present it as harmless or as a solution to plastic pollution.
According to the FTC, the term #biodegradable can’t be used to market #plastic. It’s inherently misleading to customers because it has no commonly accepted test or definition. #Amazon just settled a lawsuit & will stop selling those bags. #greenwashing☹️
If it’s fast, or when it gets wet, what happens to a bag full of groceries in the rain?
What does it require the user to do (ie: bring to a special biodegrading facility)?
Must bag users separately sort it for a special “bio /composting” pickup (which our municipalities do not have)?
Will they just be thrown out if included in recycling? (yes)
Does it break down in landfill or must it be exposed to air, sun, and/or water (and blow around in the meantime? -most need that). What are you supposed to do, put them on a clothes line to turn into goo?
Once you realize there is no “away”, you cannot really solve any of those problems with a “throwaway” bag of another material. So the best policy also reduces non-plastic alternatives as well, and the solution pushes towards that goal. A fee or ban or both on ALL bags is key to promote the goal: to remove the opportunity for needless items to become pollution and for everyone to bring your own bag, instead.
The Village seem to have their heart in the right place. They also seem to have simultaneously ignored what nearly every environmental organization or good public policy group proposes based on what works elsewhere, sound policy, and scientific data. It concerns us why they came up with this novel idea instead. Is there a new “biodegradable bag lobby” or companies pitching this “solution” to municipalities without discussing all the issues involved? We hope not.
Of course, you can avoid all this yourself. Just bring your own bag Atlantic Beach – we know you got this!!
Great turnout and rally last week! Now its time for you to take the next step!
Thank you to our volunteers, friends and the numerous organizations who attended last week’s hearing in Smithtown and spoke out! Special thanks to Assembly Members Engelbright, Pellegrino, and D’Urso who brought it all together to give Long Island a voice. Without them, the only hearing on offshore drilling in New York would have been 186 miles from the coast, in Albany.
YOU MUST MAKE YOUR COMMENTS HEARD NOW!
The Trump administration wants to open all offshore ocean areas, as close as 3 miles, to off shore oil and gas drilling leases. The comment period is open now for oil and gas exploration environmental considerations.
REGULATORY ROLLBACK BY FEDS
We knew it would NOT be good news when the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced a briefing yesterday on 30 minutes notice.
Apparently your ocean (Yes, including the Atlantic) is being made great again for gas and oil drilling, spills, pollution and everything else that comes with it- huge rollbacks in regulations by executive orders, effective immediately and revoking previous moderated plans.
We will be opposing this at every possible turn and will be joining our allies to bring the public together to stop this. https://www.boem.gov/National-Program/
NYC TRYING TO TAP GROUNDWATER SHARED WITH LI
NYC is moving forward with plans to reopen their access to Nassau County’s drinking water, including the fragile, last remaining source for Long Beach and several other towns. They plan to effectively remove 60% the amount that Nassau does daily. This will have a huge impact.
See article: NYC seeks renewal of permit to tap groundwater shared with LI
In spite of what we were working towards this fall, there now doesn’t seem to be any hearings needed, so our petition may be one of only a few ways to stand up against this.
YOUR VOICE WILL BE IMPORTANT TO GETTING OUR WATER PROTECTED. CONSIDERING ONLY 28 PEOPLE INCLUDING OFFICIALS WENT TO THE JUNE HEARING, DO NOT ASSUME YOUR CONCERNS ARE BEING HEARD.
If you haven’t already, please sign and share our petition here. If you have, please share it now.
The Long Beach checkout bag law takes effect in just 3 weeks!! We are preparing for the festivities around it. If you would like to join our team for the parade and the art build with our allies, please RSVP Here.
Our volunteer team has been going door to door to merchants to help them with the transition to reusable bags, partner with them for any questions and concerns they still have, and find solutions for bag giveaways. Susan and Joanne are pictured with Natalie Dangerfield (center), owner of Random LB. Also helping have been Jo, Karin, Karen, and Stacy. Thanks for your work to get this done!
Though we’re making progress, there just aren’t enough machine washable, grocery size, reusable bags coming available right now to make sure Long Beach smoothly transitions, and we need to make sure there are.
Join our crowdfund in partnership with Georgia Meckes and LI Greenmarket and help us get 1 million bags off the streets.
In an incredible way to end an incredible year, over 150 attended the largest off shore wind rally held yet, on 12/20, to help LIPA know that wind is their way forward.
Thanks to all who came out-to our own State Senator Todd Kaminsky, Senator Phil Boyle, and to all the partner organizations – Sane Energy Project, Renewable Energy Long Island, Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment, Sierra Club Beyond Coal, National Wildlife Federation, Long Island Federation of Labor, Food and Water Watch, NYPIRG, and all the others who made this such a resounding success.
photo courtesy of Lisa Oldendorp
We also thank our volunteer Joanne Moore, who then went in and spoke for us at the LIPA Board meeting.
She told them “It’s LIPA’s turn to move forward and “refocus our energy”. By choosing environment-saving off shore wind now, you can assure New York’s leadership will reap the job, cost, and clean energy benefits just waiting to be claimed for this and the next generation. It’s time we grab ahold of the clean energy economy that awaits to be the legacy of those who act. ”
Thanks so much also to Lisa Oldendorp, Jerry Rivers, Jay Blackman, Karen Miller, Janis Abrams and so many others who helped All Our Energy represent at this event!
Please click here to choose us, and support our work and our volunteers every time you make an eligible purchase! Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to All Our Energy when you shop at smile.amazon.com.
Same products, prices and service. AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know with the added benefit of supporting charitable organizations like ours!
Long Beach Reach annual awards (l-r) Long Beach City Councilman Anthony Eramo, Long Beach Reach Executive Director Joseph Smith, State Senator Todd Kaminsky, Honoree Debora Staiano, Honoree Kevin Reilly, Honoree George Povall, Honoree Betsy Glazer, Chairman Scott Nigro and Long Beach City Councilwoman Eileen Goggin.
Thanks to our team, our allies and volunteers whose work and support made this possible.
Congratulations to the other honorees we are very humbled to be included with-Betsy Glazer, Kevin Reilly and Debora Staiano.
We also thank the board and membership of Long Beach Reach for such an honor and recognition of our work. Thank you all, including Scott Nigro, George Trepp, Carolyn Cuttler, Rosalie Machalow, and the members including Eileen Goggin and Executive Director Joseph Smith, Ph. D.
Thank you also to all the representatives and officials who also congratulated us- Congresswoman Kathleen Rice, Senator Todd Kaminsky, Nassau County Executive Mangano, Nassau Comptroller George Maragos, and Long Beach City Council-Len Torres, Anthony Eramo, Eileen Goggin. Scott Mandel, and Anissa Moore.
We’re very grateful, have huge admiration for their work, and you can donate to Long Beach Reach at this link.
Thanks to YOU and your voices, an amazing team who did so much work, with some smart officials, and the support of the business community, The City of Long Beach unanimously passed their checkout bag law Tuesday October 18, 2016!
Thanks are in order!
First, I want to thank the Long Beach City Council who listened, were forward-thinking and who took action to be the leaders on this issue as the first municipality in Nassau to do so.
Thank You to Vice President Anthony Eramo, whose early declaration made it a priority this year and who helped bring our campaign into the city, Eileen Goggin, who helped host more events, Council President Len Torres, Council Members Scott Mandel and Anissa Moore for your attention and perseverance to get this done. Thank you all for your leadership!! The community really came together and you are the reason.
Thanks also to City Manager Jack Schnirman and staff Ryan Mc Tiernan who was instrumental in all of this.
Thank you to All Our Energy’s campaign partners Surfrider Foundation Central LI Chapter and Sierra Club Long Island Group whose financial, technical, and moral support pushed this campaign through to victory.
I thank the other members of the BYO Bag LB leadership team- Amanda Moore, Scott Bochner and Tara Bono for the amazing efforts you have delivered to help this succeed, and my wife, Barbara Hackett, who lived with this campaign 24-7 and helped more than anyone could know. Thank you!
We had some incredible volunteers working on this, and none gave more than Stacy Russo, Joanne Moore, Joan Monahan, Robin Csabon, Jo Eisman, and James Mangels, with help and support from All Our Energy team leader Matt Kearns.
We were inspired with artwork from Laura Swan and Stewards of the Sea throughout this process that made it vibrant and heartwarming. Thank You.
Thanks to the youth team, especially Fin Ashmead, Mia Mangels, Noele Micheman, and Lucy Tomicick.
Thank you, to the Long Beach Chamber and so many members who have been instrumental in helping the business community come together.
Some individuals who helped make a big difference- Sam Pinto, Bernadette Martin, Georgia Meckes, Joey Naham, Kelly Sullivan, Liz Treston, Mary Velosovitch, Nancy Schulman, Dieter Von Lehsten, and many others, I’m sorry if you’ve been left out!
I want to thank the other businesses and organizations that have been so supportive – Sunpower by Empower Solar who have hosted so many meetings and sponsored events. Thanks to event partners Gentle Brew Coffee, Cybernet, East Park Chiropractic, Lift, Bridgeworks, Long Beach International Film Festival who all supported the campaign and we really appreciate it!
We got so much support from organizations, too- Sane Energy Project, Long Island Progressive Coalition, Arts in the Plaza, Long Beach Farmers Market, Long Beach Martin Luther King Center, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Long Beach Parks and Recreation, St James of Jerusalem Episcopal Church, Key Food East, and Key Food West.
This is FAR from everyone, so simply by reading this, know I thank you for your support and involvement!
So now what?
Well, this work is far from done.
We have 1000 low income residents that need -a full set of reusable bags- and our help to get them.
We have many people who still have no idea about this.
We have merchants still unaware or with concerns.
We will be here to help the transition happen so it STICKS and becomes part of our culture. Hopefully at the same time it will raise consciousness of all plastic, waste, energy, air and water and many other environmental issues and help people address those issues as well.
For now, its enough to say- we did it- all of us, I’m glad we took the journey together.