Community participation

Have you been shopping lately? Or maybe you’ve been protesting. ‘Tis the season! While I’m celebrating my freedom to shop and protest, I want to thank The Coast News for running this, my 10th editorial since 2009, when I began offering my musings on some of our societal addictions, like single-use plastic. We are fortunate to have an excellent local newspaper full of political pith, community photos, interesting columns, and supportive advertising. I’m thankful for the good life here in the best beach town, with the best weather, in the best country in the world where I’m free to shop ‘til I drop. Or not. Now I need to ask a few questions and bust a few heads.
Did you see our First Lady photographed shopping at a DC Target with plastic bags instead of the reusables they offer? Dec. 15 is the 3rd annual “Day Without A Bag,” sponsored by the Encinitas Environmental Commission. Target participates along with many other retailers in town. Isn’t this a no-brainer? Plastic being an oil product, we also need some national leadership. Then there’s Herman Cain with a PET water bottle in hand every time I see him. Hello, the kids are watching.
Protesting can be very positive. We stood up to Big Tobacco and won the freedom not to breathe second-hand smoke. We stood up to other bad ideas in this country and addictions in our own lives, and we overcame. But, recycling will no more solve the epidemic of plastic killing the critters, polluting the ocean, and infecting our food supply than it will prevent millions of cigarette butts from ending-up on the beach. A local recycling expert actually told me cigarette filters are recyclable! We still have the freedom to be stupid.
The awesome Plastic Pollution Coalition is promoting plastic-free zones. (Jackson Browne, Jack Johnson, etc.) What a great idea, one that I originated back in 2005. You’re welcome! I’ve had a couple of successes: a church in Solana Beach, and my house. What if musicians who are signed-on refused to book gigs where fans are captive to venues that serve everything a la plastique? Humphrey’s, and even many indoor arenas, don’t allow reusables. You can’t even enter the premises with your own water bottle. We love your tunes, guys, and your passion for the environment is commendable, but wouldn’t refusing to play these concerts be the ticket to policy change?
Back to the consumptive “reason for the season.” Times are tough, and of course we want to get the very best deals, but hold the pepper spray and use some common sense. Not protesting the tons of plastic stuff, plus all the excess packaging, mostly made in China, disposed of there, then remanufactured and sold back to us is the height of stupidity. If you haven’t seen “Trash, Inc: The Secret Life of Garbage”, you aren’t paying attention. Carl Quintanilla narrates, along with Charlie Moore describing the devastation to the ocean habitat. Think of the fuel used just to move tankers across the ocean, or to truck garbage out of state. The landfills, both foreign and domestic, will gross you out. Research the Canadian pipeline. “Spoil” is a documentary film about the pristine wilderness adjacent to Vancouver in jeopardy of being plundered in search of tar sands. While you’re out shopping this season, protest how we’re contributing to the “sale” of our country’s future to China.
Finally, where were our legislators for the past how many years as corporations were laying off workers, manufacturing everything abroad, outsourcing, offshoring, and insider trading, yet posting huge profits? Why is it now all I hear from them is that this has to change? SOS. Buy local, made in America, and plastic-free, if you can find it. Protest with your ballot, and with your wallet.

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