Skip to main content

green consumerism

Lots of eyes rolled two years ago when San Francisco banned plastic grocery bags, but milllions of saved bags later, the experiment has swept across America, into many foreign countries and may soon take root in the nation's capital.

A Washington, D.C. councilmember has proposed legislation aimed at reducing the amount of trash that falls into the city’s Anacostia River, where an estimated 40 percent of trash pulled out of the river is plastic bags. The San Francisco bag-ban has translated to 5 million fewer bags a month. The bags are now outlawed in South Africa and Bangladesh. Ireland imposed a tax on plastic bags in 2003, leading the public to almost entirely use cloth totes.

A study in this month's "American Journal of Agricultural Economics" shows a significant correlation between rising numbers of factory farm animals and increased infant mortality. The study found that an increase of 100 million pounds of farm animal flesh meant 123 more infant deaths for every 100,000 babies born. That means our shift in the last half century away from sustainable family farms and toward highly concentrated factory farms has put our babies in jeopardy.

Earthjustice Vice President for Litigation Patti Goldman offers these fond memories of Joan Bavaria.

A bounty of acclaim has come in the passing of Joan Bavaria, who served eight years as an Earthjustice trustee. Many speak of her as their hero, a visionary, and a pioneer. For me, as for many at Earthjustice, Joan was an inspiration.

When she joined the Board of Trustees, she brought unbounded insights and energy. She challenged Earthjustice attorneys to embrace shareholder activism as one of the tools for environmental progress. She led by example, engaging personally with all around her, lending her deep knowledge to common challenges, and sharing her spark.

Joan spearheaded socially responsible investing with her founding of Trillium Asset Management, the first socially responsibly investment firm, and with her co-founding of Ceres, which developed the 10-point environmental code of conduct against which the environmental record and commitment of corporations can be judged. Her many accomplishments and honors are chronicled at www.ceres.org/joan. In addition, The Boston Globe wrote this remembrance.

Those of us who had the good fortune to know Joan will continue to be guided by the gift of her wisdom.

Energy conservation is the biggest, cheapest way to avoid building new power plants and significantly fight global warming. And it offers powerful economic benefits, as California has found through aggressive programs that have created 1.5 million jobs while cutting energy bills by $56 billion since 1972.

Moreover, energy conservation is something individuals can help with by simply turning off lights, driving less and wearing sweaters.

Unearthed blog editor, wordsmith, and all around superdad Terry Winckler gave me a hard time this week for being an "elitist" urban bike commuter. We had a good laugh over the use of the word. It got me thinking. What does the term "elitist" really mean these days?

In my last post I told you about using Freecycle, Craigslist, and eBay to reduce-reuse-and-recycle my way through a total refurnishing of my new, post-divorce life. It was a lot more fun and I found better quality things than shopping at garage sales and second-hand stores. There's really great stuff out there if you follow the ads.

A major benefit is that by not buying new, I wasn't contributing more climate-changing carbon emissions. Another benefit was the interactions I had with the sellers. Every piece has its own story.

Q: What do forests, water, wildlife, and agriculture have in common?

A: They’re all being reshaped, redistributed, and otherwise readjusted by climate change. Now, in real time.

That's the conclusion of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, which just released a long-delayed government-commissioned report on how climate change is affecting the American landscape.

This is so much on my mind that I've been looking for every way to do something about it I can find.

Bill McKibben is on a crusade. He wants to pound the number 350 into the heads of everyone on the planet, including yours.

Three fifty is the amount of carbon in parts per million that the atmosphere can handle safely without warming up and melting glaciers, raising the sea level, bringing on killer storms, destroying wildlife habitat, and all the other horrors that pop like mushrooms from your morning paper nearly every day.

Three fifty. Remember it.

Pages

About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.