Archive for November, 2011

Is There Hope for Portlands Plastic Bag Ban?

November 2, 2011

The Portland, OR "Bring Your Bag" Campaign Logo.

Bring your bag! Last month Portland, Oregon became one of a growing set of American cities to ban plastic bags. The city had waited for the 2011 state legislature to act on a state-wide ban. No action was taken and the city council voted unanimously on July 21 to ban plastic bags. In an effort to remind citizens and visitors of Portland of the pending ban The Oregonian explained which local business would be affected. “Supermarkets with $2 million or more in gross annual sales such as Safeway, Albertsons and QFC, plus retailers of at least 10,000 square feet that have pharmacies, such as Target, Walmart, Walgreens and Rite Aid.” The city gave out 10,000 reusable bags and major retailers also offered free reusable bags, yet it seems unlikely that this band will change consumer behavior.

Why? Paper bags are an expensive alternative to plastic. It was reported in the same Oregonian article that paper bags would cost an extra $12 million per year. This cost is likely to be put back on the consumers, and added costs are not always enough to alter behavior. Yet there is hope even without a campaign to change consumer behavior. According to a study by the Bay Area Center for Voting Research (Berkeley, CA), Portland is one of the the most liberal cities in America. This matters because if a plastic bag ban and increased fees for not using a reusable bag cannot change social norms in a mostly liberal city, the chance it will work elsewhere is slim. For now we just have to wait and see how Portland reacts to this change. It isn’t the first city to take this route, but it will be a great case study for future decisions to ban plastic bags.

What is your price limit before you would bring your own bags? Is an added cost really going to change behavior in Portland? Comment below!

 

Kyle Walsh

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Jersey Shore Fees to Change in Summer 2012

November 2, 2011

Fort Hankcock at Sandy Hook, New Jersey

You might be spending a fortune at the Jersey Shore next summer. You also might get in for free, and it all depends on who you are and where you go. Paying for beach badges is a controversial topic for beach-goers in the Garden State. Some people have no problem paying a few dollars for a day at the beach, while others see it as an unnecessary fee. This is understandable given all the costs in visiting the shore. With today’s gasoline prices, fueling for the drive can be enough to make an extra $7 hurt. New policies for beach fees will, for better or worse, be affecting visitors differently next year.

For Better

Beginning next summer active military personnel and veterans will receive free beach badges in Ocean City, New Jersey. Ocean City is the first beach community in New Jersey to offer this incentive.  The city council passed an ordinance allowing the change on October 25th. This has been praised my many beach goers, and may be the start of a larger effort to lower the cost of beach access in New Jersey. Comments on NJ.com praised the move, although residents still want free access state-wide. One comment read “Good News!!! Now if we can get ALL the beach towns, to do the same, then we got something good, going”, with a rebuttal, “If they gave free access to all NJ residents they wouldn’t make enough money…A day at the beach for $5 is a steal!” You can read more about this ordinance here.

For Worse

Beach fees at Sandy Hook aren’t fairing as well for New Jerseyans as in Ocean City. The National Park Service has proposed a plan to double fees for Sandy Hook next year. Season passes would climb to $100, and daily vehicle fees would move from $10 to $20. The hikes are claimed to be a necessity to continue basic services for beach goers such as lifeguards and clean bathrooms. This reason is not good enough for visitors to Sandy Hook who look across the bay at Staten Island where beach admission is free. Even so, the proposed rates are per-car, not per-person. A full car could keep the per-person rate as low as $4. For more about this debate, check out this article on Middletown Patch!

Have something to say, maybe a better idea for funding the Jersey Shore? Leave a comment below!

Kyle Walsh

Winter Surfing without the Wetsuit

November 1, 2011

If you are like me, you aren’t a fan of cold weather. Winter seems to be impatiently waiting to arrive and even gave the Garden State a preview of what’s to come. Surfers along the Jersey Shore will have to break out their winter wetsuits soon for these upcoming winter months. But if you want to escape the cold frigid New Jersey winter, here are a few beaches that offer excellent wintertime surfing.

Black’s Beach, San Diego, California- This beach is known for its two mile secluded strip of sand and amazing ways. It has one of the most powerful surf breaks and is advised for advanced surfers. Not to mention Black’s Beach is one of the largest nude beaches in the United States, so keep the younger surfers at home.

Hanalei Bay, North Shore of Kauai, Hawaii– You don’t need to be a pro to surf this part of Hawaii. This spot is perfect for beginners and offers beautiful landscaping. For the non surfers, Kauai offers whale watching, botanical gardens, and wildlife sanctuary. It’s the perfect place to escape the East Coast winter.

Rincon Bay, Puerto Rico- Known as the Caribbean Surfing Capital, Rincon Bay offers fast and big waves for the experienced surfer. Rincon Bay is made up of six beaches that incorporate the calm Caribbean and rough Atlantic so surfers have options.

BarbadosThe island of Barbados is claimed by many surfers to have the most consistent surf in the Atlantic. The eastern shore of Barbados is the most popular among surfers because of its right-handed reef breaks called the “Soupbowl”. The “Soupbowl” is usually inhabited by locals but if you show some respect, they will give you your own takeoff spot.

Fran Gealer

iRecycle. You Recycle?

November 1, 2011

With smartphone users up 67 percent from last year to a total of approximately 95.8 million, “apps” are reaching society at a new level. There are now more wireless subscriptions for mobile phones in the United States than there are people.  With this major increase has come a surge in new apps being created for these smartphones. One of the newest “Green” apps on the market is iRecycle, created by the popular website earth911.com that provides consumers with accessible and actionable recycling information across the country.

the HOME screen for the app with news feed streaming along the bottom

Recently, I began following earth911.com on Twitter, and found out about this app from one of their tweets. I instantly downloaded it (for FREE) on my iPad and started testing out the waters. Using the GPS in your mobile device, the app finds recycling options specific to the users’ area. I was curious to see what was available in my area, and I was shocked. Within seconds, I knew of 62 locations within 20 miles of my location where I could deposit plastic bags that were ready to be recycled. Seconds later, I was looking through the 240 items they have listed. This app takes advantage of the social norm of smartphones allowing users to explore the world of recycling and sustainability, even if they were not previously interested.

Categories for recycled items.

Not only does this app provide important recycling information and destinations, it also has a news & lifestyle feature. The news feed shows relevant and interesting stories, which are focused on the environment and sustainability. Also, the app allows you to share the news stories or your recycling searches on Facebook and Twitter.

 

To recycle the plastic bags hiding around your house, it’s as easy as 1-2-3!

  1. Download the iRecycle app on your smartphone.
  2. Collect the plastic bags in your home, as well as other plastic items including:
  • Paper towel and toilet paper plastic wrap
  • Newspaper bags
  • Dry-cleaning bags
  • Produce bags
  • Cereal box liners

3. Open the app on your phone, choose the “plastic bag” option and your “current location,” and you’re done! Take

the bags to the most convenient location, and you’ve done your part in helping the environment.

First four closest locations in the New Brunswick area to recycle #2 plastic bags.

Top 5 Beaches In The World

November 1, 2011

I don’t know about you, but I love the beach. There are so many different beaches in the world too! I wish that I could visit each and every one. I created a list of the top 5 beaches that I would like to visit one day. If you have been to any of them, want to go to one of them or have any other cool beaches in mind, be sure to leave a comment! Be sure to start the video below so you can enjoy some music while exploring these awesome beaches. Enjoy:

#1.Seychelles

This is one of the most photographed beaches in the world due to its pale sands and awesome landscape. There are  huge boulders all over the beach and the water is turquoise and shallow.

#2. Saint Barths

This beach is where you will find all of the rich people due to its beautiful beaches, high quality restaurant and fun night clubs. Check out this video below:


#3. Phi Phi, Thaliand

This is one of the coolest beaches I have seen yet. However, it can get very busy at times and also very humid. But just check out that view!


#4. Copacabana, Brazil

This beach is often considered one of the world’s most famous. It is almost always busy but with an unlimited amount of activities to do, especially for families. This would be a really fun beach to visit.

#5. Bora Bora, Tahiti

Last but definitely not least, Bora Bora! This is a long time favorite of mine and it is a beach that I definitely want to visit one day. Its beautiful. Check it out!

I hope you enjoyed my top 5 beaches! Leave comments and tell me what you think.

Taking One Step at A Time to Spread Awareness About Trash on NJ Beaches

November 1, 2011

Using Trash to Make Art

 http://www.banthebagspdx.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/foot_photo1.jpg

Last summer almost 500,000 pieces of trash were picked up off of New Jersey’s beaches.  This does not include the amount of trash that has found its way into the ocean.  3/4th of the trash found on our beaches were plastics.  We need to change the way we act before we destroy our beloved beaches.   We don’t want Asbury Park to end up looking like this

Beach in Santa Monica, California

 http://www.flickr.com/photos/healthebay/1420474732/sizes/m/in/photostream/

I challenge you readers to post pictures of yourselves using a reusable bag or finding ways to turn your trash into something beautiful.  Take some time, get creative, save your old plastic bags and make something interesting to spread awareness about trash on our beaches! Get to work on saving Asbury Park.

Kelly Kemmerle

Never Forget Your Reusable Bag Again!

November 1, 2011

The environmental movement has caused a major change in what consumers receive at the end of the checkout line.  Unfortunately, the change is not that consumers no longer take plastic bags but instead they now get a slight feeling of guilt for taking the plastic bag when they know they have reusable bags at home. The reusable bag is something that everyone wants to use but everyone instead uses excuses to explain their way out of the slight guilt that is now associated with plastic bag use.  The most common excuse behind not using reusable bags is that the bags have been forgotten at home but thankfully the Container Store has created a way to never forget reusable bags at home.

The 27/7 Bag

The 24/7 Bag

The 24/7 Reusable bag is a reusable bag that can be conveniently folded down into a small ball that can be easily stored in a purse or inside of a car.  This bag is made of a strong nylon and is able to hold up to 25 pounds and is able to be purchased in multiple stylish colors. The bag can be purchased on the Container Store website and would make the perfect gift for the upcoming holiday season!

Pale Girl Tested, Sensitive Skin Approved: Sun Products That Will Keep You Safe from the Sun

November 1, 2011

As a fair skinned Irish girl, the sun is not my biggest fan- let’s just say I have received pretty bad burn off of the snow in the winter.  Not only ‘ gingers’ such as myself are at risk for skin damage from the sun’s rays and we all must learn to better protect our skin or deal with the negative effects that come with years of exposure.  Luckily, this skin sensitivity I was blessed with has had an upside; I am now a self proclaimed expert on the best sun block products on the market.

My favorite product for daily use is a product that is put out by the Olay Company called Olay complete.  This product has more of the consistency of skin cream rather than the texture of sun block but still offers an SPF of 15.  This lotion feels light on your skin and does not carry the scent of sunscreen that turns many away from daily use of sunscreen.

Another product that I have used for many years is the Banana Boat Sport Performance sunscreen stick.  This product has an SPF 50 and is waterproof.  Both of these are important features to a great sunscreen product but my favorite quality about the stick is that it size is small that you can keep with you in a bag or a pocket without the fear of it exploding and making a mess.  The convenience factor of it being in stick form also makes application hands free which makes application on the beach include much less sand.

For all over body protection for that long day on the beach, it is time to ‘pull out the big guns’ so to speak and go with a sunscreen that gives the user an SPF 70+.  The Neutrogena Ultimate Sport Sun Block Spray is able to provide full protection from the strong sun and is able to be applied quickly for those days on the beach where nothing seems worth the wait before running for the ocean.Small children especially need protection from the suns rays

These products have allowed me to enjoy the sunshine without endangering my skin to the harmful rays.  Not only pale skinned people need to worry about the effects of the sun so you should all try these products out for yourself!

 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/el3ss/5744356788/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Turning Trash Into Treasure For Surfers

November 1, 2011

Attention Surfers, Green Go-Getters, and Everyone Else,

There is an overabundance of plastic marine debris and ocean garbage floating around, but what is being done about it?

Kevin Cunningham, a surfer and the founder of Spirare Surfboards, is an excellent example of an individual who has used creativity to yield interesting, practical, sustainable solutions. Mr. Cunningham was extremely distressed about all of the plastic marine debris and ocean garbage that he kept running into while surfing that he felt compelled to do something about it.

He launched a creative project to build surfboards sustainably. His surfboards are made from natural materials: mostly wood, recycled foam, and fragments of all sorts of debris that washes up on shores. As Kevin summarizes on his surfboard project page,

“natural materials form my surfboards; conversely, fragments of man-made debris such as plastic and glass are recycled and reused in the skin of the surfboard. Plastic bags woven into a strengthening cloth, plastic bottles cut up and reassembled into fins, and many other possibilities to be explored.”

By reclaiming and recycling post-consumer materials, such as plastic debris from our oceans, you can contribute to the momentous environmental movement. If you are interested in learning more about Kevin’s surfboard project, please visit his surfboard project page and the official website of Spirare Surfboards.

Manmade plastic debris accounts for the majority of debris found in the oceans and other waterways. Plastics are also the most common types of litter and debris that wash up on beaches. There are many ways that plastics have made every day life more convenient and fluid for you and I, but with this convenience also comes repercussions.

Plastic marine and waterway debris floats in water and takes a really long time to break down. The truth is, plastics never actually go away. They just keep breaking down and down and down until they are considered “microplastics” (less than 5mm in length). These microplastics along with plastic debris in general have both direct and indirect effects on fish and other wildlife. To read more about these effects, check out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s publication on plastic marine debris.

Because plastics never actually go away and they just keep breaking down into finer and finer pieces, we should be more proactive, like Kevin Cunningham, in finding sustainable solutions to dealing with problems such as plastic litter and debris in general. Come on, it’s not rocket science. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. What ideas do YOU plan on bringing to the table in the fight against plastics?

References:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/408559255/spirare-sustainable-surf-craft

http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/info/pdf/plastic.pdf

http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/rrr/

Sunless Tanning: Safe Alternative to Tanning Beds or Dangerous Habit?

November 1, 2011

Spray Tanning can cause allergic reactions, is unsafe for people with asthma, and is not approved by the FDA for inhalation.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/foundub4/4928249163/

It is no secret that tanning beds are dangerous to your health and can cause skin cancer.  Less well-known are the side effects that can be caused through sunless tanning methods such as lotions, spray tans, and sunless tanning pills. This would be less upsetting if these techniques weren’t advertised as healthy alternatives to tanning beds or regular old sunbathing.  Consumers have been becoming more aware of the dangers of tanning and are using these sunless tanners to avoid skin cancer while still maintaining that bronzed, beachy glow all year round.

Spray Tans:

Spray tans are probably the most popular form of sunless tanning.  You can get them in nearly every tanning salon and are even advocated by health websites.  However, they can have a variety of side effects.  The main ingredient used in spray tans to turn your skin that bronzed glow is dihydroxyacetone or DHA.  DHA works by dyeing your skin cells darker and can cause allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin that result in an itchy, painful rash.

People with asthma should steer clear of spray tanning because the form of DHA in spray tanning (tiny liquid particles) can make it hard to get oxygen.  Spray tanners with asthma can often feel out of breath and some even faint.  Anyone with severe asthma should steer clear of spray tanning.

You also need to watch out for your eyes while you step into the tanning booth.  The solution can get into your eyes, causing pain, itching, and redness.
Tanning goggles are recommended but salons are not required to give warnings of any of the side effects or to provide goggles.

DHA was approved in the 1980’s in a cream form and was found to be safe on the skin.  But it was never actually approved for inhalation, which is what happens when you step into the spray tanning booth.  You should not spray tan unless your nose and mouth are protected since it is not safe to inhale.

Sunless Tanning Pills:

Sunless tanning pills are a less common form of sunless tanning but still exist on the market.  The main ingredient is the color additive canthaxanthin.  When taken in large doses your skin can turn orange with hives.  These pills can also lead to severe liver damage and the “formation of crystals in the retina of the eye.”

Recommendation: 

Even with these side effects sunless tanning is probably safer than the ultraviolet in tanning beds.  Out of sunless tanners, the topical creams are safest for your skin and the sunless tanning pills can do the most damage to your body. But the safest way to look good is to just be proud of your natural beauty! You don’t need to look like you just walked off the beach in January to look hot. Embrace the pale!

Feel free to comment with suggestions or advice about tanning!

Kelly Kemmerle