The plastic bag ban

October 30, 2007 | filed under health, inspiring, pay attention | Leave a Comment 

March 27, 2003

The city of San Francisco is on the verge of banning use of the plastic grocery bags that have been a marvel (for their carrying capacity) and a plague for 30 years. The ban, supported by six of 11 supervisors and the mayor, was the subject of a three-hour hearing last Thursday. Action was postponed because the ordinance as written would only apply to San Francisco’s 54 large supermarkets; the board decided to consider extending the ban to drug stores and pharmacies like Walgreens. San Francisco takes up the issue again March 22.

NPR’s Morning Edition did a brief story on the ban this morning, but didn’t really capture something significant: How far behind we in the U.S. are at getting tired of the bags.

The bags were outlawed in South Africa in 2003, they are banned in Bangladesh (where they were blamed for causing flooding during monsoons by clogging drains) and Taiwan. Ireland imposed a 19-cent per bag tax five years ago, and reduced plastic bag consumption 90 percent.

Alaskans have actually been ahead of Californians in this particular environmental effort: The bags are banned in at least 30 villages and towns in Alaska, including the towns of Emmonak, Galena, and Kotlik. And a ban on the plastic sacks goes into effect later this year in Paris; they are outlawed in all of France starting Jan. 1, 2010.

San Francisco may trigger a wave of similar measures in California and further east. Ikea, the trendy home furnishings retailer, imposes its own tax on the bags in U.S. stores starting tomorrow — charging a nickel to any customer who wants a plastic sack. A similar charge has been in place since last spring at Ikea stores in the UK, and the company says it has reduced use of bags in UK stores by 95 percent. Ikea hopes the 5-cent fee in the U.S. cuts bag use in half, from 70 million bags a year to 35 million.

The EPA estimates that U.S. consumers throw away 100 billion of the bags a year. Across the landscape, where they snag on everything and flutter in the breeze, they are a discouraging visual pollutant. And while their energy and solid waste impact may be modest, they should also be an easy habit to kick.


Further Reading:

You are not machines! You are not cattle!

October 30, 2007 | filed under inspiring, watch this | Leave a Comment 

We are so mortal

October 2, 2007 | filed under do your research!, health, moment of truth, pay attention | Leave a Comment 

While I’ve been interested in health and wellness for the past five years, naturally, there were peak times where I cared more than others. Recently, I’ve renewed my interest and am dedicating more of my time, money, and energy towards educating myself and others about health, and improving my own. There’s so much confusion about the necessary steps towards health, but even more stifling is the reluctance to change the familiar. Health is an interdisciplinary subject, and as such requires a lifestyle change. At this time of human existence, we must let go of static preconceptions and ways of being. What we’ve been doing has gotten us to the point we’re at now: we’re sick to death–literally– and killing the planet. Our health care systems have failed us and will continue to do so under their current business model. Our governments have failed us and will continue to do so under their current business model. We have failed ourselves and will continue to do so under our current system of operating, id est our ways of thinking and being. We, as individuals and especially as collectives, have power and need to stop giving it away, especially when that transaction also involves sacrificing our lives and the health that makes life worth living. There is no even exchange for what we’re giving away.

The generation of children born after 2000 is the first predicted to have shorter lives than their parents. Why? Nutricide. What we’re putting into our bodies and those of our children is killing all of us. About 10-15% of all grocery stores are dedicated to selling live food…the rest of it is essentially dead. It can remain on your shelf, unrefrigerated and unspoiled, for months on end. A.K.A. your food is dead. It has no energy. If it has no energy, you’ll receive no energy. Therefore, it’s an inadequate food source.

The phrase “eat to live” isn’t a remotely new one, but for so many it’s a foreign concept. “You mean give up pizza?” Okay, first of all, be clear on what exactly you’re eating. Pizza is essentially glue and constipation with a bit of lycopene. Sure, you get some antioxidant help from the lycopene, but the benefits of that one ingredient (tomato sauce) don’t outweigh the damage of the others. All of us made glue in school (flour + water = glue), but have you considered what the bread you’re putting in your body is? Most people buying so-called wheat bread are essentially buying brown white bread. We buy juices purported to have all these nutritional benefits, but the vitamins and enzymes start to break down immediately after juicing. Cereals are “enriched” with vitamins, but offer no nutritional value aside from what was added to make it a so-called healthy choice. Cheerios has fiber, but it’s made of cheap, low-quality carbs that instantly turn into sugar in your bloodstream and costs you $5 a box. Not adding up.

In fact, there’s a lot that doesn’t add up with regard to food. Yet that doesn’t stop us from buying it, which makes food the consummate business. When you have a little money, a lot of money, or no money, you will buy food…or you’ll starve. The problem is what’s being passed off as food isn’t food, but poisons of sorts that most don’t recognize as poison because they’re emotionally attached to it and the effects are delayed. But ignorance isn’t bliss, especially when you’re trying to determine the origin of your diabetes, hypertension, heart disease or cancer. It’s not that God doesn’t love you, but that you don’t love yourself. A lot of us tend to think that we’re somehow haphazardly being punished by the fates or God or karma…or even worse genetics! Scientists are researching the fat gene for obesity. They want to come up with a cure for obesity as though the cure isn’t cut the crap out of your diet and move your body. The best cure to obesity is prevention: exercise and lean diets. Some people need moderate exercise, some people need more. We’re not all alike. Find what works for you and do that. There’s only so long I can go without exercising before I start feeling sluggish and gaining weight no matter how I’m eating.

I haphazardly found my way to this journey called health. Since the age of three, I’ve had migraine headaches, so popping pills wasn’t new for me. By the time I reached college, I’d–regularly–take up to six of whatever to get rid of the headache. That first year, I had a spell that lasted about a week. This headache wouldn’t go away. I’d take meds that would diminish the pain, but a few hours later, it’d flare up again and I’d have this throbbing pain in my head. Feeling your heartbeat in your head is a strange sensation, and not a very pleasant one either. My doctor at the time prescribed me Imitrex and Inderal. I was to take the Inderal everyday to reduce the intensity and frequency of the headaches and take Imitrex whenever I got a headache. I felt like my prayers were answered and that I had a new lease on life…except the Inderal gave me headaches and the Imitrex didn’t do anything to stop them.

At that point, I pretty much gave up on Western medicine. I did some research into natural “alternative” cures and came across macrobiotics, a Japanese philosophy of balancing yin and yang in one’s diet. I tried my broke woman’s budget version of it, which consisted largely of nothing but brown rice with tamari, vegetables, and occasionally beans. I eliminated processed foods, additives, preservatives, sugar, dairy, anything I couldn’t pronouonce and even strong spices.

For a while, the food was bland, but eventually I began to taste the flavor of the food itself, not the spices. Within a number of days, I stopped getting headaches. Months went by and I was headache free. Moreover, there was an inner peace that I’d never experience before that was completely unrelated to the headaches, or lack thereof. I did more research on natural medical systems like naturopathy, Ayurveda and Oriental medicine that recognize the body as intelligent and self-correcting when given the proper conditions. I learned the effects of meat, dairy, sugar, etc. I learned about how our medical system treats symptoms as the diagnosis and never gets to the root of the problem. My migraines were a symptom of a larger problem that wasn’t being adequately treated. Here I am for fifteen years taking pills when all I had to do was eat real food and stop eating the fake stuff. I was deceived.

What’s real food? Real food comes from the earth, not a factory. Real foods are raw ingredients. They require cooking not microwaving. It isn’t really fast unless it’s raw. It’s not frozen, fried, or fat. There are no chemical additives. The shelf life is only long if it’s dry.

A question that emerges when one considers changing their diets, especially if the change is motivated by dis-ease, is “why didn’t my doctor stress this?”  Because your M.D. is educated to do two things: sell you drugs and cut you open.  The amount of nutrition training they recieve is a joke.  Why would they educate you on being healthy when them being able to make money requires you to be sick? 

We can die. We will die.  We are dying.  Despite all the medical breakthroughs, the numbers of sick and sickly are climbing.  Doesn’t add up. 

Point is…we’re talking about industries.  The goal of industry is to make money by fulfilling a need, real or created.  The ineptly title health care industry creates and perpetuates its need to satisfy its existence.  If you want to be healthy, you have to start educating yourself.  Study anatomy and biology, not because you want to be a doctor, but because you have a body.  Study food, not because you want to be a chef, but because you eat.  Study marketing, not because you want to sell, but because you buy.  We need to start educating ourselves in more practical ways.  Honestly, thinking about these things will not overload your mind.  You just need to get acclimated to thinking..something industry also wants you to avoid.

AIDS from the perspective of an economist…changes your understanding of the disease.

October 1, 2007 | filed under health, moment of truth, pay attention, watch this | Leave a Comment 

There’s only so much one can translate from a 50-page paper to a 16-minute talk.  University of Chicago economist Emily Oster introduces some interesting ideas that definitely inform a more expansive way of thinking about AIDS, such a complex subject.  If you’re interested in reading her paper, please go here. It’s currently unpublished right now and she welcomes feedback and correspondence, either through the TED forum or privately.

Here, here!

October 1, 2007 | filed under health, inspiring, moment of truth, pay attention, watch this | Leave a Comment 

As a soon-to-be formal educator, I’m excited to hear the topic of creativity and education being introduced at such a prestigious conference as TED.  I can only hope that other educators and educational administrators are paying attention to the role of creativity in education, or more correctly the lacking role of creativity in education. 

People that are attuned to the possibilities of life often talk about the number or drones or sheep in our society.  Parents, doctors, and educators all have a role to play in the creation of those that don’t think independently and mindlessly maintain the status quo.  Everyone has a different path and we need to honor that.  “It is not appropriate to interfere with choice, nor to question it.  It is particularly inappropriate to condemn it,” writes Donald Neale Walsch in Communion With God.