Thursday, February 07, 2008


Paper, or canvas?

The longer I wait to post about this, the more items come up that are related to it. First, there was “U.S. Given Poor Marks on the Environment”:

A new international ranking of environmental performance puts the United States at the bottom of the Group of 8 industrialized nations and 39th among the 149 countries on the list.


The United States, with a score of 81.0, he noted, “is slipping down,” both because of low scores on three different analyses of greenhouse gas emissions and a pervasive problem with smog. The country’s performance on a new indicator that measures regional smog, he said, “is at the bottom of the world right now.”

He added, “The U.S. continues to have a bottom-tier performance in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Grim news, indeed, attesting to how effective Spurious George has been as the Environmental President, from withdrawing us from the Kyoto Accord to pushing the vile and ironically named Clear Skies Initiative.

But picking that up just a little, teeny, tiny bit is a small U.S. grocery chain. “Whole Foods Chain to Stop Use of Plastic Bags”:

The Whole Foods Market chain said Tuesday that it would stop offering plastic grocery bags, giving customers instead a choice between recycled paper or reusable bags.

A rising number of governments and retailers are banning plastic bags, or discouraging their use, because of concerns about their environmental impact. San Francisco banned plastic bags last year unless they are of a type that breaks down easily. China announced a crackdown on plastic bags a few weeks ago, while other governments, including New York City’s, are making sure retailers offer plastic bag recycling.

It’s minor, compared with smog and greenhouse gas emissions, but it’s still a welcome change. And not just in the U.S. and China. Most recently, we see that “Motivated by a Tax, Irish Spurn Plastic Bags”:

In 2002, Ireland passed a tax on plastic bags; customers who want them must now pay 33 cents per bag at the register. There was an advertising awareness campaign. And then something happened that was bigger than the sum of these parts.

Within weeks, plastic bag use dropped 94 percent. Within a year, nearly everyone had bought reusable cloth bags, keeping them in offices and in the backs of cars. Plastic bags were not outlawed, but carrying them became socially unacceptable — on a par with wearing a fur coat or not cleaning up after one’s dog.

I’ll have to check that out when the IETF meeting is in Dublin this July....

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