Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An Evening with the Surfrider Foundation, A History of the DC Bag Tax from an Insider View

As a member of the greater DC community, I’m sure you’re aware of the plastic bag tax.  Since its implementation at the beginning of this calendar year, bag use has dropped from 22.5 million per month to 3 million per month and individual stores have estimated a 60 – 80% drop in use, while raising $1 million for cleanup efforts on the Anacostia River.

The Surfrider Foundation was one of the major organizations that lobbied for this tax, and so far it has been a wild success.  They supported this initiative based on an early study done by a few volunteers, who walked up and down the Anacostia River and recorded every piece of trash that they found.  They discovered that 47% of the trash consisted of plastic bags on land, while 20% of the trash was plastic bags in the river.  The Surfrider Foundation was founded by surfers who advocate for access to beaches and waves, but also for clean water, a human right that many people don’t have access to.

The bag tax has been a major success, seeing a 66% drop in the number of bags being cleaned up since last year, but not without critics.  It’s important to note that the issue was never about raising money, so it wasn’t a tax in the traditional sense, but it was more of a tax to reduce the number of plastic bags clogging up our rivers.  (Think of a “sin tax.”)  The tax ended up passing with less resistance than expected, especially when you consider the fact that more environmentally aware/progressive cities and states have failed...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lightbulb Swap: Using CFLs

This week, EcoAction will be in Red Square for the EcoWeek light-bulb swap. Bring your incandescent light bulbs, and we’ll give you a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) for free!

The switch to CFLs is a quick, easy way to make a huge impact on the environment. According to Energy Star, CFLs use 75% less energy and last ten times longer than incandescent light bulbs. They also produce 75% less heat, which reduces the energy used for air-conditioning in buildings. CFLs will save you money, too. One CFL is a bit more expensive than one incandescent bulb, but because it lasts so much longer it can save you up to forty dollars over its lifetime. Imagine how much money could be saved by replacing all the bulbs in your home or workplace.