Uh Oh! “BAGNESIA;” Tips for Remembering Your Reusable Bag

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Bagnesia/HeatherHeather is a busy working mom who is thoughtful about her usage of single use plastic. She packs her children’s lunch boxes with care, limits her use of unnecessary plastic items and brings her reusable bags to the grocery story….unless she is having a bout of….BAGNESIA!  It happens to all of us. We head out to the grocery store with our list, are distracted by work or getting children into their car seats, get to the store and wammo! We realize that we have forgotten the reusable bags!  Should she buy another one?  Can she manage without one? (Did she read W2O’s blog about transporting groceries plastic free?)  Can her children help her carry items that can be transported without a bag at all? Will her husband chide her (again) about buying more bags each time she has forgotten them? What memory tricks could she use to try and remember those bags in the future?

W2O’s tricks for remembering your reusable bag:

  • Buy some really great bags that are small enough to fit into your pocket or purse. Small Footprint Family writes a great blog about figuring this out and recommends Envirosaxs, which fold up small and come in a variety of cool and pretty styles.
  • After unpacking your bags, hang them on the same hook as your car keys
  • Put your shopping list pad and list into a reusable bag. If you don’t have “listnesia” you will remember both!
  • Put a note or reminder in your car.  Conserving Now has an unobtrusive non adhesive cling sticker reminder that might be the perfect choice.DSCN3816

Always remember to wash your bags often and keep them for the specific use of grocery shopping. Designate other bags for when you are headed to the mall. Remember, even the smallest efforts will increase your awareness. Good for your health and good for our beautiful oceans.

 

Helping a Rare Sea Turtle in the Cape Get Back to Trinidad

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The New England Aquarium shared this amazing story with W2O today:

BARNSTABLE, MA (Sept. 11, 2013). An approximately 650 pound  leatherback sea turtle that stranded at low tide in an isolated area of Sandy Neck Beach Park in Barnstable Wednesday morning was treated medically and released back into a rising tide in the early afternoon. New England Aquarium staff are optimistic about her prognosis, but they are seeking the public’s help should boaters or beach walkers re-sight the five foot long, black, soft-shelled sea turtle as she is swimming in Cape Cod Bay or near land.

Photo: Mass Audubon/ Ron Kielb

Photo: Mass Audubon/ Ron Kielb

The turtle was discovered high and dry by Sandy Neck staff in the mid-morning. Rangers called the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary at Wellfleet Bay, which acts as first responders for sea turtle strandings on Cape Cod. They in turn called the New England Aquarium for medical support from their rescue biologists and veterinarian. Given the isolated location, rescuers were ferried to the site by Barnstable harbormaster and a Good Samaritan private boater.
With near record heat and an exposed marine reptile in the baking sun, rescuers covered the turtle with wet sheets to keep the animal cooler. They also moved her on to a dolphin stretcher to lift her, if necessary, and  to also help contain the restless creature while they treated her. They found tags on the flippers of the adult female indicating that she had previously nested on a beach in Trinidad. That large island off the northeastern coast of South America is one of the principal egg laying sites for this highly endangered species.
For the Aquarium medical staff, they needed to make a crucial and time sensitive evaluation as to how sick was the turtle and why it might have stranded. Both Sandy Neck and Mass Audubon staff knew that once into this tidal backwater, many marine animals become confused. For a leatherback feeding on sea jellies, that would be even more likely as this species of sea turtle is generally in the open ocean and is less familiar with the fluctuations of tides.
For Connie Merigo, head of the Aquarium’s marine animal rescue team, she needed to determine was this a reasonably healthy animal that accidentally stranded in an unfamiliar habitat or a sick turtle that was debilitated and had essentially washed ashore. A moderately healthy animal could be released on the incoming tide while an ill turtle could be transported to the Aquarium’s Animal Care Center in Quincy.
At about 650 pounds, the leatherback was slightly underweight and not as fat as biologists would expect at this late point of the summer feeding season. The Aquarium’s rescue biologists took vital signs and drew blood. They entered a sample into a portable blood analyzer. Head veterinarian and noted turtle specialist Dr. Charles Innis looked at the results. To his slight surprise, the sea turtle’s blood values were within normal range. This turtle’s best chance at survival was to be released but with a little medical boost to help combat stress of the stranding and other existing minor medical maladies. Dr. Innis gave the turtle a long-lasting anti-biotic, anti-inflammatory and vitamin complement.
As the tide slowly rose and made the massive turtle more buoyant,  about ten Barnstable, Mass Audubon and Aquarium staff grabbed the handles of the nylon stretcher and moved her out to deeper water. On command, one side of the stretcher was dropped, water flooded in and the turtle swam out into deeper water. She took a breath and dove – always a good sign. A couple of staff sighted her further down the inlet. A nervous elation percolated through the rescuers – excited, proud but still concerned that this important animal survive so that it might one day this winter lay eggs on a beach in Trinidad.
The successful treatment and release of live leatherback sea turtles is an extremely rare event. Live strandings of this ocean-going turtle are very uncommon, but also little was known of their physiology and how to treat them since they have never been successfully kept in an aquarium anywhere. A few years ago, Cara Dodge, a former federal sea turtle official, enrolled Innis and Merigo in a field research study to temporarily live capture leatherbacks at sea, take samples and build more knowledge of their physiology.
Strangely enough, once published last summer, that information has been used twice to save live stranded leatherbacks. Last September, another leatherback of the same size stranded in Truro but was near death. After spending 48 hours in treatment with the Aquarium, the turtle was equipped with a satellite tag, released and successfully migrated down the East Coast.

Isn’t it our turn? W2O Protecting our Neighbors While Protecting What We Love

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Wasserman cartoon from The Boston Globe

Wasserman cartoon from The Boston Globe

In this day and age, with so much internet access bringing our planet closer and closer together, I would now consider most nations my neighbor. I text folks in Australia, facebook with people from Asia and Europe and tweet with the world.  I think it is time we begin to respect our “neighbors” when it comes to climate change and our own emissions and pollutants that effect our back yards and the back yards of our those friends thousands of miles away. Lets face it, we are the culprit of many of the issues that the islands in this article from The Japan Times (found on The Daily Climate, one of my favorite sites) refers to.  Nations are facing impossible predicaments; abandoning the home they love and making a move to higher ground.  What a sacrifice and a sad choice to have to make.

Interesting too, is the fact that the small Island Nations in this article are taking unprecedented steps to change their own footprints in recognition that there must be systemic change. “The islands, which produce less than 0.1 percent of the world’s emissions, say they are leading by example. Most have started to substitute the expensive diesel they must traditionally import to generate electricity with renewable energy, including coconut power — biodiesel derived from homegrown coconut palms to power cars and outboard motors. The Marshall Islands has converted its outer island communities to solar energy and Tokelau has become the first territory in the world able to meet all its electricity needs with solar power. The Cook Islands and Tuvalu are aiming to get all of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.”

Its our turn to make some changes and reduce our own emissions and waste for the sake of our neighbors (who unfortunately are the first of many populations to feel the direct effects of rising seas from a warming climate) and for our own good.  All too soon, we will be the ones having to up and move from our declining shores, relocating from places that we love.

 

W2O’s Back to School Lunch Packing Tips. (Can we avoid the plastic bags?)

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It’s back to school time and W2O has some simple suggestions for making choices that are good for your family and good for our environment and oceans.  Cringing at the plastic sandwich bag these days? Me too. But what are the alternatives. How do we choose and invest when our little ones might be tossing the contents in the trash?  (Some training is required) Does your teen come home without the cap to the water bottle? (And the training never stops!) W2O has some tricks, reasonably priced options (well, one extravagance! Adults need to eat too!) and easy tips for you.DSCN3808

For the true investment: Whimsy Snak Pak suggested by Plastic Pollution Coalition

For the true investment: Whimsy Snak Pak suggested by Plastic Pollution Coalition

"Light my Fire" Kids Spork from reusit.com

“Light my Fire” Kids Spork from reusit.com

There are a ton of products out there. I've included the ones that are less costly here.

There are a ton of products out there. I’ve included the ones that are less costly here.

Sometimes you do need to reach for a sandwich bag substitute-choose these!

Sometimes you do need to reach for a sandwich bag substitute-choose these!

The "Reuseit" website is handy because it has replacement caps for almost all styles of reusable water bottles. http://www.reuseit.com

The “Reuseit” website is handy because it has replacement caps for almost all styles of reusable water bottles. http://www.reuseit.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

W2O Intern Phoebe takes the temp on Brookline’s Bag Ban

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At Women Working for Oceans we have been promoting the passing of the Plastic Bag Ban of Massachusetts. Our newest member of the W2O team, Dartmouth rising senior, Phoebe Racine, went to Brookline, a suburb of Boston that has passed a municipal bill banning plastic bags, to interview businesses, find out what people think of the ban, learn how it might influence their choices and affect business when is enacted in December. 

On a Wednesday in the ides of November, Brookline was the first town in Massachusetts to enact a ban specifically on plastic bags and polystyrene to-go containers. Brookline’s hope was to start a movement. They wanted to pave way for towns, cities, counties and states throughout the East Coast to pass similar bans. And start a movement they have. Since the ruling, Manchester-By-The-Sea and Great Barrington have followed suit. However, Brookline was not the first to ban one time use plastic bags, only the first to do so specifically. In 1989, Nantucket banned a wide array of plastics, including the plastic bag. Today, four Massachusetts towns have a bag ban in place. In my interview with Town Meeting member, Clint Richmond, he explained that these four towns represent 1% of Massachusetts. As for the other 98% of the state, W2O hopes that Massachusetts will pass Bill H696 and thus enact the first ever, statewide plastic bag ban.

In our push for the bag ban we believe it imperative to explore a ban’s effects on towns who have passed such laws. I went to Brookline to interview businesses and take a lay of the land. What I found surprised me.

The Brookline Town Council set the ban to start December 1st of 2013, allowing over a year for businesses to prepare. At the time, Brock Parker of The Boston Globe reported that, “As many as 90 businesses will have to deal with the plastic bag dilemma in the coming months.” The ban will affect businesses over 2,5000 sq ft in size and franchises with more than two sites within Brookline. In Brookline I spoke to local businesses and in particular businesses who I knew would be affected. I went to CVS, Stop & Shop and Walgreens and was surprised by the lack of knowledge about the upcoming ban. With less than five months before the ban is to start, I envisioned that owners, managers and employees alike would be aware of what was to come. As the first town to enact such a bill in the state, I believed that this was either exciting or unfortunate news for businesses and for people who live or work in Brookline. However, I spoke to several managers and all were unaware that there was a ban set by Town Council. (Maybe a majority of employees are traveling in to work from out of town..)Most felt that the ban would not affect their business.

After calling CVS and Walgreens corporate offices all I hear was ‘I-don’t-know-I’ll-have-someone-call-you-back.’ (Still waiting..)  A representative from the CVS Massachusetts district development office did think through the issue with me and said, “I’m not sure. We used to have a Green Bag Tag, (a reward system for using a reusable bag) maybe we’ll go back to that?”

While the reactions from store managers and representatives from corporate spoke with relative lack of knowledge or neutrality, a video published on June 24th by journalist Jonathan Satriale showed an overall positive reaction from Brookline shoppers. Set outside Booksmith in Coolidge Corner, the video “Brookline Plastic Bag Ban Reactions” captures the thoughts and statements of 10 Brookline residents. Susan Davis admitted, “I try not to use plastic bags anyway. I try to bring my own. I think it (the bag ban) will encourage me more to bring those bags.” Gary, however, reminded us, “how many people do you see carrying reusable bags? It’s all fine, but there is always another side of the coin.” Overall most residents interviewed believed such a ban will make them “more responsible.”  To watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3aY_nESNIY

Do you think a plastic bag ban in your town would make you ‘more responsible?’ How do you think you’re community would react to such a ban? Please let us know!

Summer Reading from W2O

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Today I am setting you all up for some serious summer reading. Links to this New England Aquarium refresher on Climate Change is a good introduction to the more scientific facts in Science Magazine’s article “Natural Systems in Changing Climates,”  and its comprehensive list of articles that include a wide range of topics taking the mystery out of questions about the impact of human induced changes in our climate. Covered topics include the economic impact and human health vulnerability effected by our warming planet. Important summer reading from W2O.

photoWhat are you reading that might be of interest to our Ocean Loving members this summer?

Loyalty to Local: A follow up conversation with Wilson Farm

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Blueberry Pie!

Blueberry Pie!

Scott Wilson of Wilson Farm responded to my query about plastic containers for blueberries with a thoughtful email describing the devotion that Wilson has to being a sustainable and earth friendly company. “Farmers in general are environmentalists by nature and by need.  We think of and treat our environment (our land and water) as one would think of and treat their child: as the most important thing in our lives.  Truth be told, we have been environmentalists since long before it was a cause. As an example, we have been composting our greens since our inception in 1884. It is with the environment in mind that we run our family farm.”

According to Scott, those plastic containers for blueberries are not the norm-they were used to differentiate two products and now that Wilson’s own blueberries are harvested, they are back to the pulp/paper green containers that we are use to seeing. I hope he can find a solution to that issue for next time and nixsay the plastic which as we all know is seldom recycled and not “biodegradable” but just breaks down into tiny fragments that then seep into soil and ocean. Watching..and not breaking up…yet.

W2O Hopes Women+Advocacy+Gina McCarthy will = Change

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To W2O and many other Ocean Advocates, the appointment of Gina McCarthy as administrator of the EPA signals the possibility of change and action regarding our usage of carbon pollution.”Serious efforts” says the White House, with a real powerhouse of a woman (and fellow Massachusetts native) leading the charge for a cleaner planet. Can we have tentative hope that she will be able to implement a serious strategy for curbing emissions that are threatening our health and the health of our planet?

Gina McCarthy at her confirmation as Administrator of the EPA (Washington Post)

Gina McCarthy at her confirmation as Administrator of the EPA (Washington Post)

 

W2O Intern Phoebe Recommends Buying from the Source!

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Want to Try Something New? Buy Directly from your Fish Farmer.

There’s an up and coming effort in the United States to get a step closer to the farm. More so, there’s certainly an effort to buy what’s local and think sustainably. So, why not try something new and buy directly from your fish farmer? Remove all doubt in what you’re buying! (Oceana reported that at least 25% of all seafood is mislabeled! eeek!) If you buy from these farms you’ll come home with the most sustainably harvested and freshest fish while supporting an American made product. Even better, you won’t have to sacrifice taste!

 

The list below is intended for Boston residents, like myself, who are looking for the best and most sustainable seafood available nearby! Remember, while these farms have limited offerings, many of these fish are awesome substitutions for much less sustainable species.

Australis: Turner Falls, Massachusetts

The best source for barramundi! An awesome, closed system farm.

http://www.thebetterfish.com/sustainability/massachusetts-farm

E&T Farms: West Barnstable, Massachusetts

A great source on the Cape for tilapia! They also grow veggies and make honey on site! They’re an aquaponic system-meaning they’re a closed system farm and they grow more than just fish.

http://www.eandtfarmsinc.com/

Island Creek Oyster

Photo: .http://www.islandcreekoysters.com/

Island Creek Oyster Farms: Duxbury, Massachusetts

A great source for oysters and philanthropy! Island Creek Oysters have started their own foundation that helps to start aquaculture systems throughout the developing world. I just visited the farm on Tuesday and accidentally sat in on their team meeting. Oops.http://www.islandcreekoysters.com/

Sky8 Shrimp Farm: Stoughton, Massachusetts

A recirculating aquaculture system just 20 minutes outside of Boston. It’s a new business so their gourmet white shrimp are not widely available yet. However, this is a place to look out for!

http://www.sky8shrimpfarm.com/

While this list can certainly help you buy your seafood, are you unconvinced that these species are worth trying? Chef Barton Seaver wrote up an awesome guide to using species that you might normal not think of, simply because they might not be the most popular choice. http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/take-action/seafood-substitutions/ 

More on Seafood Fraud: http://oceana.org/en/our-work/promote-responsible-fishing/seafood-fraud/overview

Want to double check a species of fish you’re buying? Seafood Watch is the go to site, they even have an app.

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx