Sponsored Article: Plastic Pollution: The Problem

Plastic Pollution: The Problem

Plastic pollution is a global problem that is growing exponentially due to both an increase in consumerism and an increase in the number of plastics used to manufacture the things we use on a daily basis. Many of these items are single-use items, which are used once and then tossed in the trash. But what happens to this plastic once the trash can gets emptied? It doesn’t simply disappear into thin air. It usually ends up in the environment in some manner or form, with a great deal of it eventually ending up in the ocean Arguably one of the most pressing environmental challenges that we are faced with today is marine plastic debris.

The two common sources marine debris originates from are:

1)    land-based, which includes litter from beach-goers, as well as debris that has either blown into the ocean or been washed in with storm-water runoff; and...

2)    Ocean-based, which includes garbage disposed at sea by ships and boats, as well as fishing debris, such as plastic strapping from bait boxes, discarded fishing line or nets, and derelict fishing gear.

While discarded fishing gear takes its toll on the marine environment by entangling marine life and destroying coral reefs, it only comprises an estimated 20% of all marine debris - a staggering 80% of all marine debris stems from land-based sources. This is not that surprising, considering that around 50% of all plastics are used to manufacture sing-use items which are discarded soon after they are first used.

Read the entire article by clicking here...

Micro-plastics Found in 90% of Sea Salt

Micro-plastics Found in 90% of Sea Salt  

Scientists sampled sea, rock, and lake salt from around the globe - they found micro-plastics in most of it.

So here's the thing: when we nudge 13 million metric tons of plastic into the oceans every year, it's bound to come back and haunt us. And sure enough, it's doing so in the most vexing way - returning as sneaky micro-plastics, hiding in our beloved table salt.

Last year TreeHugger reported on research that found salt samples from 8 different countries had plastic contaminants from ocean pollution. Now, a new study has taken a broader look at the problem of plastic in table salt and concludes that it's even worse than we thought.

Laura Parker writes in National Geographic that of 39 salt brands tested, 36 had micro-plastics in them, according to the new study by researchers in South Korea and Greenpeace East Asia.

The new research also looks at the correlation between micro-plastics in table salt and how predominant it is in the environment where the salt came from. Not surprisingly, they were pretty well related.

"The findings suggest that human ingestion of micro-plastics via marine products is strongly related to emissions in a given region," said Seung-Kyu Kim, a marine science professor at Incheon National University in South Korea.

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How I Was Inspired to Take Action By Shirley Lutzky

How I Was Inspired to Take Action

By Shirley Lutzky

Message from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio 

The Global Climate Action Summit just took place, as you may know, in San Francisco. Here is a brief take-away from the mayor of New York City:

"I just left the stage at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco and I’ll tell you what I told thousands of advocates and leaders there: If we’re going to turn the tide on climate change, we must leverage our investments away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy. We must act. All of us. Together. Now.

Earlier this year, New York became the first U.S. city to commit to divesting our pension funds from fossil fuels. 

We did this because it was necessary in order to move our city towards a sustainable future — and because the people demanded it. People just like you relentlessly pushed and encouraged decision makers like me and our other pension fund stakeholders.

That's how change happens. Elected officials need to hear from constituents and climate activists like you passionately and persistently urging us to do the right thing. Call on your Mayor in your city or town to step up and commit to bold climate measures today Just imagine the energy revolution such an investment could spur.

Thanks to the climate divestment movement, other cities are also now joining together to advance fossil fuel divestment. Those cities include London, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Paris, San Jose, and Oslo. This is a big deal. And it’s because of climate activists like you." - Mayor Bill de Blasio, NY City

My own personal note to add to this: I was inspired by the POP news article that summarized POP's sustainable banking talk.  I ended up investing a large portion of my savings in that bank (now part of Amalgamated Bank) and I put the rest into a social justice acting credit union. I can not express how great those actions continue to make me feel. I received a healthy energizing release of great discomfort. I was so accustomed to that discomfort, I had barely realized its cause. But it clearly was there, in my very cells it seems, all the while that my savings were working for planet destroying corporations in a big, mainstream, harmfully - investing bank!

As Mayor ce Blasio concluded:

"Together, we can invest in a safer, more sustainable world for all."

Shirley Lutzky

Rise for Climate March by Shanti Moorjani

Rise for Climate March

By Shanti Moorjani

This has been an exciting week for environmental awareness. Last Saturday, the Climate March in San Francisco saw thousands of all ages and races march down Market Street carrying banners, and signs in a congenial effort to draw attention to serious effects of Climate change on our planet. I brought our Person of the Planet banner to carry down Market Street. Many thanks to Linda Young, Joe Pratt, Shirley Lutzky and Pastor Tony for helping to carry the banner for the slow 2 mile walk from Embarcadero to the Civic Center. Grandmothers for Change was a huge coalition, Pacific Islanders join their local communities, Climate Reality group, and many other individuals and organizations were there.

Today (Friday) is the last day of the Global Action Summit at the Moscone Center in San Francisco hosted by Gov. Jerry Brown. Though it is promising to have leaders from across the country coming together to find new resolve on how to keep carbon out of our atmosphere, many protesters outside say it is still not enough. For many, they want Gov. Brown to stop approving new oil and gas drilling in California and a complete ban on fracking. This promotion of continued fossil fuel production, carbon trading markets and other incentives still allow corporations to pollute.

Earlier this week Gov. Brown signed the bill AB100 which puts California on the path to 100% renewable energy by 2045. That's one big, positive step toward a cleaner atmosphere here in California and setting a precedent for other states to follow. It reminds me of a sign carried by a young person at the Climate march last Saturday. It said "We can save our planet if we really, really, really, really hurry.

Let us continue to do our part by speaking up daily for the planet with our choices and asking the question, "Is this good for the planet?" for every decision we make. Perhaps taking a walk in a park or in the hills to remind us of the healing power of trees and nature. I am remembering a group of green-faced women on stilts at the Civic Center dress just like trees with branches, leaves and tree trunks.

Why is Hurricane Florence Different by Ruth Robinson

Why is Hurricane Florence Different? 

By Ruth Robinson

As I am writing this article, over 10 million people on the Eastern Atlantic seaboard are in harms way. The news tells us that this storm may dump nearly three feet of rain over 36-48 hours in the affected areas. On Thursday evening, Sept. 13th, we just don’t know if this is going to be confirmed.

Is the intensity of this storm, and other recent hurricanes, a result of climate change? Is it because we’re using too much fossil fuel?

What I’ve been able to discover is that the answer is not simple, nor easy. Climate experts disagree on some things, but are completely in agreement about this fact: warmer seawater plus any hurricane or tropical storm or typhoon results in a more intense storm. The temperature of the water is what makes for extreme storms.

So, how did that happen, anyway? Current science links global warming to increased water temperatures. Global warming is linked to human actions, no doubt about that.

Just about a year ago, before the last three (counting Florence) major hurricanes hit any of the US states or territories, the NY Times had an article about “The Relationship Between Climate Change and Hurricanes”. Basically, the science is evolving as data is analyzed and interpreted. Here is an excerpt written by John Schwartz:

“The relationship between hurricanes and climate change is not simple. Some things are known with growing certainty. Others, not so much.

The most recent draft of a sweeping climate science report pulled together by 13 federal agencies as part of the National Climate Assessment suggested that the science linking hurricanes to climate change was still emerging. Looking back through the history of storms, “the trend signal has not yet had time to rise above the background variability of natural processes,” the report states.Temperatures have been rising, and theory and computer modeling suggest an increase in storm intensity in a warmer world, “and the models generally show an increase in the number of very intense” storms. Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University and an author of the report, said even if global warming does not change the number of storms - and, she noted, there could even be fewer hurricanes over all - tropical storms and hurricanes do gain energy from warm water, so the unusually warm water that has accompanied climate change “can have a role in intensifying a storm that already exists.”

Join Person of the Planet at the “Rise for Climate March” In SF

Rise for Climate March

Join Person of the Planet at the “Rise for Climate March” In SF

 Saturday September 8, 2018

On September 8, 2018, thousands will march in San Francisco for the largest climate march the West Coast has ever seen.

Together they will Rise for Climate, Jobs & Justice as part of a global day of action to demand our elected leaders commit to no new fossil fuels and a just and fair transition to 100% renewable energy.

World’s Largest Street Mural: At the end of the march on Sep 8, be sure to check out the record-breaking street mural at Civic Center. Their goal is to complete 50 mural sections, each 50×50 ft.

Person of the Planet will meet near the Sue Bierman Playground which is to left as you face the Ferry Building just past the Embarcadero Plaza between 10am and 11.  The march starts at 11am.  Look for the long Person of the Planet banner.


March Schedule

10:00-10:50 AM - March Line-up at Embarcadero Plaza

We will be gathering at the foot of Market Street in San Francisco, near Embarcadero Plaza. We will be encouraging people to march and organize not just as individuals - but along themes based on the diversity of our communities, concerns, and issues. Contingents are self-organized and growing in numbers.


11:00 AM - We Rise Together: Moment of Solidarity

We’ll share a moment of silence followed by a song before we march.


11:05 AM-12:00 PM - March down Market St.

The route will go from the Embarcadero Plaza area, up Market St, to Civic Center. It is largely flat, about 1.7 miles, and should take the average marcher about 1.5 - 2 hours to complete. We will have a support vehicle at the tail of the march if anyone needs a ride or a break.


12:30-4:00 PM - Resource Fair at Civic Center

The march will end at Civic Center Plaza, near San Francisco City Hall. There will be music, and dozens of information tables from the organizations that helped make this march possible.


2:00 PM - We Rise Together: Moment of Solidarity

We’ll take moment for everyone to stop painting, step back and see what we’ve created. A drone will take photos as we move and sing together. Same song as before

2,300 Persons of the Planet By Shanti Moorjani August 31, 2018

2,300 Persons of the Planet

 By Shanti Moorjani August 31, 2018

I just returned last night from a 3 day Climate Reality workshop in Los Angeles with the ex-vice-president Al Gore. Some of you will remember we hosted 3 Climate Specialists here, at the church in July. The good news is, we are not alone in your concern for the survival of this Planet. 2,300 people from 40 countries, ages ranging from 13 to 80 came together to learn about the hard facts of Climate change, to hear firsthand accounts of those impacted by climate change, and to discovery ways to go out into the world and make a difference. Many were already active by either starting movements, like our Person of the Planet, writing books about creating a country of earth (Leap.earth), some already in green businesses, or others mobilizing to political action across the country. Many came to learn as much as they could and garner the skills to go home and get active. This summit was their largest gathering to date, which, to me, underscores the underlying urgency many people across the world feel about climate change. This is especially true when many of our leaders and the media are burying their heads in the sand, yes, sand that will quickly be covered with water if we don't collectively act. We need leaders in the government who are educated to the realities of climate change and willing to speak up.

This Climate Reality Project is "dedicated to catalyzing a global solution to the climate crisis by making urgent action a necessity across every level of society". The three questions that prefaced every presentation were: 1. We must change, 2. We can change, and 3. We will change. The speakers were experts in the field and exciting to listen to. One panel of Fire Chiefs and experts discussed the reasons and solutions to wild fires across the globe. Even a panel of movie moguls who have and are doing films that tackle climate issues enlightened us.

While a panel of experts were discussing the gains California has made over the years reversing the effects of climate change, Mr. Gore shared that this very day (Tuesday 8/28), the California legislature would be voting on a bill SB100. This bill states that California must use eligible renewable energy resources and zero-carbon resources to supply 100% of retail sales of electricity to CA customers by 2045. It's goals are re-accessed every 5 years. Though the first vote failed by 4 votes, by the end of the day, it had passed and now awaits Jerry Brown's signature.

Man-made global warming pollution has corrupted the balances that nature originally provided. Now it is up to us to give back to the planet by reviewing our own consumptive habits, our use of energy, voting for climate advocates and asking that question; "Is this good for the planet?" for all our decisions. Al Gore said "Once people determine what is right and what is wrong, they can demand what is right and stand up to what is wrong."   Things can change and must change.

The Sierra Bakers Dozen by Shanti Moorjani

The Sierra Bakers Dozen

By Shanti Moorjani 

Yesterday I returned from a week long backpacking trip in the Eastern high Sierras. Being in the wilderness with 12 other people who I consider "persons of the planet" was incredibly refreshing! Thirteen strong, age diverse, passionate nature lovers, participating in a physically demanding week-long trek to the Silver Divide was the ultimate "high". Starting at 9,000 feet at the Cold Water Creek Trailhead, we headed up and over the Duck Pass (10,700) to camp at Pika Lake, one of many pristine Sierra lakes. The grueling hike over the pass carrying a 35-40lb. pack is challenging considering the altitude effect, varied terrain, and many hours required to reach our destination.   The Sierra Club motto: "Leave no trace left behind" weighed heavily on our minds with cooking and other daily chores. Why would anyone submit themselves to this kind of physical/mental challenge? The answer is simple: WILDERNESS!

Standing before a mammoth granite mountain, dotted with snow packs nestle on the mountain walls, slowly melting in the mid-day sun into rivulets and waterfalls, filling the wet meadows with an array of wildflowers and thick moss fills the soul with wonder. A magical sense awakens one to the fact that these are ancient mountains, untouched by human intervention. It's sacred! Yes, it's true a few of us are hiking here and dipping into the cold, clear lakes like a ritual cleanse, remembering to be low impact on the environment.

My twelve colleagues each brought a unique quality to my hiking experience here. Our calm leader, Jane Uptegrove, brought her geology training to de-mystify how these mountains were formed and what we are seeing around us at the 12,000 foot McGee pass. Bill Flowers, our assisting leader, brought more than 20 years of Sierra Club hiking experience to the group. I call Bill a modern day John Muir, as he slept each night under the stars without tent even as temperatures dipper well into the 30s and 40s.

The names of our flowers and trees were provided by Mary Hess (fellow POP) who has done many a hike in the Sierras over the years. Lori, suggested we were the Bakers Dozen, thirteen hearty hikers, ages ranging from Rachel 22, hiking with her Dad, Jim, to Ed somewhere over 70 years. Other people were a brother and sister power-house, Jess and Matt, and inspiring Native American woman, Channa who lead us in yoga while lecturing us on the importance of treading gentle on the planet. She herself is fiercely determined to live off the land and be plastic-free. Hats off to Sue, my swimming buddy and Laure from New York.

Where? Where? Where in the universe is there another living planet like our Earth? Where can we find more Sierras with fresh water to drink, wildflowers to see?

One year ago, Person of the Planet, began offering lectures, movies and even a "green" holiday bazaar in an effort to educate people and motivate you, the individual, to take charge of your every day decisions that impact this planet. Remember a Person of the Planet always asks the question "Is this good for the planet?" for every decision he/she makes. When we elect leaders who begin to ask this same question, then we can bring our fragile planet back from harm and create more spaces and places like the natural Sierra mountains. These natural treasures have withstood the test of time, retaining their beauty and have evolved according to natural laws of nature.

The resolve and commitment of one person makes a difference. Together we can save a planet for the next generation to survive and thrive.

A Letter from Anthony to Shanti

Hello Shanti –

You asked us to put on paper a few of the comments which we had for the group who viewed the film “Bag It!” last Thursday. My thoughts were focused on the plastic bags in which our San Francisco Chronicle is delivered each morning whenever we have rain, heavy fog, or either of the two are threatened. This summer we are routinely experiencing fog so thick that it condenses on everything, particularly trees, and our carrier routinely bags the Chronicle to protect it from the moisture.

I find this practice particularly distasteful and here’s why. The carrier’s route is very large. He delivers multiple hundreds of newspapers in the Kensington area, and probably in the neighboring communities of Berkeley, El Cerrito, Albany, and Richmond. Hundreds and hundreds of plastic bags go into the waste stream every day.  We are not talking about the relatively small number of bags that a single householder might discard after a shopping trip. We are talking about whole communities who daily participate in this single-use practice. The scale makes it an especially big problem. Kensington, for instance has 2,400 households. How many bags does it take to service Kensington every morning? How many wind up in the trash?

There are a number of messages printed on the bags. “THIS BAG IS RECYCLABLE” is one that I particularly dislike. “RECYCLABLE” is what I call a weasel word. Of course it’s recyclable. A responsible person will not throw it into the trash – maybe. But not all Chronicle readers take the trouble. Just because it’s “RECYCLABLE” and CAN be recycled by no means insures that it WILL be recycled. You can be certain that a considerable percentage of these bags go into the trash every day. Furthermore, not all curbside recyclers accept category 4 LDPE plastic. Even when recycled, it winds up as landfill.

What is needed is for the carrier to be using “COMPOSTABLE” bags which are bio-degradable. This relieves the consumer from the extra effort of recycling. Compostable bags are not harmful to the environment. I feel that the carrier, or the supervisor of distribution for the Chronicle, needs to be sent a message by Chronicle subscribers: EMBRACE COMPOSTABLES!  DON’T DROP ANY MORE ENVIRONMENTAL TIME BOMBS IN MY DRIVEWAY!

Another message on the bag declares “BRING IT BACK.  YOUR STORE RECYCLES PLASTIC BAGS. That’s great. This, no doubt, makes the consumer feel good. But my comment here is the same as my comment above. It takes a responsible consumer to save up his plastic bags and then remember to bring them to his local grocery store for disposal when he goes shopping. Only a certain percentage will do this.  The rest go into the trash, and a large percentage find their way to the trash as disposal bags for doggie poop. The newspaper bags are designed to fit newspapers – long and thin – and are not very practical for reuse. You can’t put bulkier items (like a load of fruits or vegetables) into one of them. But they are perfect as doggie bags. I walk in Tilden Park every day and see them routinely used by the dozens in this manner. Dog owners would be just as happy using compostable bags, if they had a regular source.

It also bothers me that the newspaper bags are now colored green. This makes me suspect that the distributor knows full well that the bags are a problem and that he is trying to make the consumer feel less guilty by coloring the bag green.  The hidden message is: “Green is Good”. It’s wonderful that we have so many green products now hitting the market. But traditional plastic bags colored green are not one of them. Lets have bags made of natural renewable biodegradable products, like corn husks. And let’s tell the Chronicle to stop polluting the environment with this garbage

-        Anthony Knight

Bits and Pieces July 27, 2018 By Shanti Moorjani

To use plastic or to not use plastic, that is the question. Ok, agreed, plastic is handy, lightweight, and readily available.  Those of you that saw the "Bag It"  movie last Sunday, got a deeper understanding of how plastic evolved, how it is made, and where it goes when thrown away (and re-cycled). This movie is not a new movie (2010) so you can easily watch through your streaming or even purchase on Amazon.

Sadly, a fact I cannot get out of my head is there is now more small plastic  than plankton in the ocean, and to the fish it looks like food......tiny fish eat it, bigger  fish eat smaller fish and we eat that fish.  With that in mind, I refuse to buy certain products in cartons with screw-top pouring spouts, because they are landfill and spouts are unnecessary.  I decided to write a letter to company, because I actually like the product.

A scary fact the "Bag It" film talked about, that seems unbelievable, are studies that show that plastic is messing with our hormonal system,  reversing the sexes.....you know men more feminine, females more masculine. Really?

What do we do with this information? First, take a deep breath and remember our Person of the Planet pledge to ourselves: "Do what you can, with what knowledge, influence and resource you have."  Ask the question when shopping, "Is this good for the planet?" and do your best.

Single use plastic is the worst. Not just produce bags, and shopping bags, but purchases encased in hard plastic. Much of that seems unnecessary.

Elena and Anthony who attended the film brought some additional information. Elena showed some nylon reusable/washable bags for veggies and fruits. She bought these at the Monterey Market.  Most likely Whole Foods and Berkeley Bowl have something similar. Joe Pratt discovered a website that makes reusable non-nylon mesh bags. Check out colonyco.com. The website offers a good selection of bags. Their mission is to reduce plastic use. Elena mentioned she uses compostable bags from Biobag for household garbage made out of veggie-based polymers. Anthony K. is currently addressing an issue about the plastic used in newspaper deliveries. We have attached a letter explaining his thoughts at the end.

Thank you to Jessica Day, Eric Larson, and Rob Hoehn, the 3 Climate Specialists who came Wednesday night, presenting a few facts on the state of our climate and giving a talk on the fundamentals of grassroots climate action. Their theme was, "What can you do in Five minutes......or thirty minutes for the Planet. The workshop was well attended

I will end this week's Bits and Pieces with a quote sent to me by Shirley L. from Kathleen Dean, author of "House on Fire". Quote: "Deciding we won't drive to that chain grocery store and buy that imported pineapple is a path in liberation. Deciding to walk to the farmer's market and buy the fresh peas is like spitting in the eyes of the industries that would control us. Every act of refusal is also an act of assent. Every time we say no to consumer culture, we say yes to something more beautiful and sustaining. Life is not something we go through or that happens to us; it's something we create by our decisions.