Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rethinking Plastics

David Leonhardt and Gail Johnson, owners of GlassDharma attended the “Rethinking Plastics” seminar on March 25th . The event was held in Fort Bragg, CA and featured Stuart Moody of Green Sangha who spoke to their own local community about the effects of plastics in our oceans and on our planet.

Their interest in this topic is at the core of why their company is manufacturing Glass Drinking Straws, presently sold in over 30 countries around the globe. Promoting the idea of reusable glass straws is a powerful tool to teach the idea of choosing reusable items vs. single use plastics. One small item like an ordinary drinking straw can spur a much broader thought process, which is applicable to other choices that are environmentally sound.  David is seen in this photo with "Teddy" as they scour the Mendocino coastline beaches for trash.

Moody is a representative and advocate of Green Sangha, an Oakland-based spiritual group dedicated to environmental activism. The philosophy of inspiring “awakened” action has helped create several active chapters in Marin, Sonoma and the East Bay. In is talk, Stuart Moody inspired Mendocino Coast residents to increase their awareness of using single-use plastics by keeping track of how much they actually use in a year.. “This includes everything from dental floss to the stickers from your organic fruit, he said. “Save it up and weigh it at the end of a year,”

He spoke of fellow Green Sangha member Beth Terry who is also a friend of Gail and David’s. Beth Terry, Founder of “My Plastic Free Life” (formerly fakeplasticfish) began with her quest by simply tracking the plastic in her life. .

Moody isn’t a plastics hater. He started the presentation by laying out the history of innovation and adaptation that made plastics one of the most amazing products in human history.

Moody spoke at the meeting, detailing the downward spiral of harm this ingenious product is causing and will continue to cause. Ideas that other communities have developed with the help of Green Sangha include setting up meetings with merchants that track the costs of single-use plastics, not just bags. Other ideas include special beach cleanups and getting people to see how long they can stick to the pledge of not buying any single-use plastics.

The event, sponsored by ‘Mendocino Coast Transition Towns’ Recycling and Reuse Working Group was co-sponsored by MendoPower Employment Services. MendoPower offered a barter pile during the meeting where people brought one or more reusable items and in return, they were invited to take an equal number away. “Reuse is really important. Recycling is often just a fancy way of throwing things away,” said Moody.

During the meeting, MendoPower detailed plans for its April 2 “Whale-of-a-Sale” Live Auction to be held at the Senior Center. Whale-of-a-Sale will raise money for both the Senior Center and MendoPower and will help to create a community recycling and reuse center as well as temporary employment services. Co-sponsor Mendocino Coast Transition Towns is part of a national and international movement to recreate new regional economies so that they are local, sustainable, and resilient.

If you were unable to attend, and would like to get involved, please email us at info@transitionmendocinocoast.org
or call Charles Cresson Wood at 707-937-5572.
Stay connected:
Join our Mendocino Coast Transition Towns listserv:
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5 comments:

  1. Comforts Restaurant
    335 San Anselmo Ave.
    San Anselmo, CA 94960

    Dear Comforts:

    As a long-time take-out customers, our family not only appreciates your food but also the fact that you use recyclable or compostable plates and you offer flatware for dine-in. I know that when I eat at your place, I’ll have a waste-free meal — except for one thing: the disposable plastic straws. I don’t need or want one. Straws are plastic waste that will last for thousands of years.

    In honor of Earth Day, I am writing to ask you to change your plastic straw policy.

    1) First, please remove your plastic straws from the condiment area on the take-out side.

    2) Second, I would love it if you’d switch to paper straws for those customers who request one. Yes, they are still disposable, but at least they are compostable and will not last in the environment, potentially harming wildlife. One company that offers paper straws is Aardvark. (http://www.aardvarkstraws.com).

    3) And third, please consider participating in an upgrade program, offering customers the opportunity to pay extra for their meal and receive a reusable, glass straw to carry with them. Glass Dharma makes them. On their web site, they describe the Menu Upgrade program for restaurants (http://glassdharma.blogspot.com/2010/11/whats-on-menu.html), which I think is a great idea.

    Please respond and let me know which steps you are willing to take. I do appreciate your restaurant and especially worship the Chinese tofu salad.

    Sincerely,

    Lauren (6th Grade)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Charlie Hong Kong
    25 Miller Avenue
    Mill Valley, CA

    I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy your restaurant. I look for excuses to get into Mill Valley for lunch as often as I can. Perhaps a location in San Anselmo one day?

    Aside from being a loyal patron, I’m also a bit of a plastic crusader.
    I’ve come to learn that compostable straws (all bioplastics/cutlery/cups/clamshells) can only be composted at specific facilities (not our local sanitary services). So unfortunately, unless one is contracted with a company that will come and pick up these items separately from the recycling/trash, these bioplastics go to landfill (they are hand picked out of recycling if they inadvertently end up in that bin and from there they are shipped to landfill).

    It would be one thing if these items were able to “break down” in the landfill, but they aren’t designed to compost this way and quite unfortunately don’t help our plastics problem. I was really disappointed to learn this!

    Alas, I’m writing with three humble suggestions/requests (sugquests?)
    Please train your servers not to automatically include straws in your drinks, and only provide them when a customer makes a request.

    Offer paper straws as an alternative to corn-based straws.
    www.aardvarkstraws.com

    Consider participating in an upgrade program, offering customers the opportunity to pay extra for their meal and receive a reusable glass or stainless steel straw to use at home (I keep a few in my glove box for meals out, but I’m that way).
    Glass Dharma is offering this upgrade program for their glass straws.
    http://glassdharma.blogspot.com/2010/11/whats-on-menu.html)
    I’d gladly suss out the feasibility of an upgrade program for stainless steel straws if you are interested.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. I’d be happy to help you in any way I can and wish you continued success!
    Sincerely,

    Heather

    ReplyDelete
  3. ROAM
    1785 Union Street
    San Francisco, CA 94123

    Dear Roam,
    You are my favorite restaurant, I even go for my birthday, but I have two suggestions.
    1) Put a location in Marin.
    2) Use paper straws.

    Here’s why
    “Compostable” straws (all bioplastics/cutlery/cups/clamshells) can only be composted at specific facilities (not our local sanitary services). So unfortunately, unless one is contracted with a company that will come and pick up these items separately from the recycling/trash, all bioplastics go to landfill (they are hand picked out of recycling if they accidentally end up in that bin and from there they are shipped to landfill).

    It would be one thing if these items were able to “break down” in the landfill, but they aren’t designed to compost this way and quite unfortunately don’t help our plastics problem. I was really disappointed to learn this!

    You can help by only offering straws if they are requested.

    Offer paper straws as an alternative to corn-based or plastic straws.
    www.aardvarkstraws.com

    Consider participating in an upgrade program, offering customers the opportunity to pay extra for their meal and receive a reusable glass or stainless steel straw to use at home (my family keeps them in the glove box for meals out).
    Glass Dharma is offering this upgrade program for their glass straws.
    http://glassdharma.blogspot.com/2010/11/whats-on-menu.html)

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. I’d be happy to help you in any way I can and wish you continued success!
    Sincerely,

    Adam (4th Grade)
    *Full disclosure: mom wrote and typed the hard parts of my letter, but you’re still my favorite restaurant and I think you should use papers straws!

    ReplyDelete
  4. In N’ Out
    Corporate Office
    4199 Campus Dr. 9th Fl.
    Irvine, CA 92612

    Dear In N’ Out,
    Everyone in my family has mailed letters to local restaurants to persuade them to switch to paper straws rather than plastic or compostable ones, but I thought that I could make a bigger change and write to a larger restaurant with 258 locations.
    You could make such a huge change with what goes into the landfill and what ends up floating in the ocean if you switched to paper straws. It would also get a lot of people thinking about how much plastic we waste every day.

    Why not “Compostable” straws? All bioplastics/cutlery/cups/clamshells can only be composted at specific facilities (not local sanitary services). So unfortunately, unless one is contracted with a company that will come and pick up these items separately from the recycling/trash, all bioplastics go to landfill (they are hand picked out of recycling if they accidentally end up in that bin and from there they are shipped to landfill).

    It would be one thing if these items were able to “break down” in the landfill, but they aren’t designed to compost this way and quite unfortunately don’t help our plastics problem. I was really disappointed to learn this!

    Offer paper straws as an alternative to corn-based or plastic straws.
    www.aardvarkstraws.com

    Consider participating in an upgrade program, offering customers the opportunity to pay extra for their meal and receive a reusable glass or stainless steel straw to use at home (my family keeps them in the glove box for meals out).
    Glass Dharma is offering this upgrade program for their glass straws.
    http://glassdharma.blogspot.com/2010/11/whats-on-menu.html)

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. I’d be happy to help you in any way I can!
    Sincerely,

    Ian (7th Grade)

    ReplyDelete
  5. To whom it may concern,

    I have been a patron of your restaurant for several years now and love the place. There is one thing that could be done to make it even better: ditching the plastic straws! Plastic is not biodegradable, which means it cannot be broken down and the plastic straw will look exactly the same in the landfill for years to come. One option to cut down on all of the waste is to offer glass straws. Before you tilt your head and side-eye this letter, glass straws really do truly exist. One such manufacturer of these glass straws is Glass Dharma. These straws are reusable and can provide an extra source of revenue by charging patrons more to get them as a souvenir of sorts. They are also pretty and appealing to many patrons. It's a big suggestion, I do realize that, but I thought I'd let you know about this and hope you consider it.

    Thanks,
    Stephy

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    1100 Harmony Way
    Evansville, IN 47720-6144
    (812) 422-1757

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    1016 State Route 662 W
    Newburgh, IN 47630-1007
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