info 05.18.12

Ban the Bag
Recycling in NYC: A 5-Part Series
the skint

Good morning, MUGgers.

This week's series on Recycling in NYC has been an eye-opener for me. Among the instructive sources we used, I can particularly recommend Garbage Land by Elizabeth Royte, the sobering Recycling Reconsidered by Samantha MacBride, and Edward Hume's new book Garbology, which helped inspire today's project.

As I thought about where MUG could add any value to the subject, I kept coming back to a couple of things. Plastic bags, if they get recycled at all, are downcycled only one time, and then head for the landfill (if they're not accidentally blown into the ocean). And as Humes' book reminded me, plastic bags are 'a product with a useful life measured in hours and a waste life measured in centuries.'

I began looking at the mounds of plastic bags every time I went shopping and thought: this just isn't right.

San Francisco has plastic bag restrictions. So does Palo Alto and Portland and Seattle and Brownsville, Texas. And Rye, NY. Los Angeles is probably next (L.A. County already has a ban). Washington, D.C. has a five-cent bag fee.

A ban (or a tax) on plastic bags won't clean up the "plastic soup" that parts of the ocean have become. It will certainly bring on the lawsuits and the end-runs by the plastics industry. It would be less convenient having to remember to bring a reusable bag (though stores could still carry paper bags).

But it would be an important step. New York City Bans Plastic Bags. That would be some headline.

And bans or taxes get results: In 2002, Ireland added a plastic bag tax and within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 90%. Washington D.C.'s fee on paper and plastic bags reduced consumption from over 22 million bags per month to 3 million.

MUG asked you on Wednesday if you would favor a ban or tax on plastic bags. Here's how you voted: 95% of you polled favored a plastic bag ban or fee.

So we've launched a petition on to get the City Council to take up the plastic bag issue again. We have a goal of 100,000 signatures. We can do this.

We can do it if you sign the petition and take one more step. Email your friends, family, colleagues and urge them to sign. Post on Facebook or your blog. Tweet. If you're in the media, or know someone who is, let them know about the petition. Help us get the word out today and over the next weeks.

These days I always think if the High Line can happen in New York, anything can happen.

With your help, this can happen, too.

Charlie Suisman

Comments? Head over to MUG's blog.

Part One of Recycling in NYC:
Wretched Refuse

Part Two of Recycling in NYC:
What Goes Where

Part Three of Recycling in NYC:
Plastics 101

Part Four of Recycling in NYC:
Is NYC Doing Enough?

skint - adj. british slang (1930-35)
lacking funds, broke, bust, stone-broke, impecunious

Around town this weekend, courtesy of the skint: a daily listing of free and cheap things to buy, see, do and eat in New York.

fri 6pm-1am (+ every 3rd friday): skate your heart out at the down + derby roller disco at dekalb market. headbands, tube socks, short shorts encouraged. only 300 skates available so get there early or byo! $5 with rsvp.

fri 6pm-4am (thru 5/20): visit local artists in their studios during the 4th annual hell's kitchen art festival. view in-progress and completed work, talk to artists, plus live music + dance performances, food, parties, more. free.

sat 11am-2pm: let's go fly a kite! don't have one? no worries, the kite making workshop at socrates park has everything you need to make a kite out of recycled materials and get it flying so high. free.

sat 1-7pm (parade 1-3pm, dancefest 3-7pm): 9,000 of dancers of every imaginable style take over broadway, university and st. marks place for the annual new york dance parade. starts at 21st + broadway, culminating at tompkins square park for performances, lessons, more. free.

sat 6pm: books! booze! brooklyn's litcrawl features readings, performances, trivia, and of course beer at 11 different locations across cobble hill. after party (8pm) at 61 local.

sun 12-5pm: the 39th annual ninth avenue international food festival features cuisine from around the world, 200+ vendors, live entertainment, more. ninth ave from 42nd to 57th sts.


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