Menu

AP Climate Solutions

PROFITABLE WAYS INDIVIDUALS CAN INVEST TO SOLVE CLIMATE CHANGE

...are the words "CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF."

Refuse + Reduce  >  Reuse > Repair > Recycle > to Rescue our Planet

It wasn't that long ago.  1963-4 that plastic bags came to be.  Oh, you didn't know they weren't always with us.  It's hard to imagine that only 56 years ago our oceans, beaches, and landscapes were not covered or filled with plastic.  It's hard to imagine that marine life wasn't always dealing with plastic.  Plastic that looks like their food sources and fills their stomachs with a slow painful death by starvation.  Plastic that lassos their necks when they are young and playful only to slowly choke them to death as they grow larger. 

In 1963 plastic bags were a novelty.  Everyone washed, dried and reused them.  Yes, everyone!  Everyone was used to reusing things, keeping things, fixing things.  Things were fixable.  Things were valuable.  Who said they could just be thrown away?  Not good people, that's who.

This evening I will be going to the Zero Waste Commission meeting for the City of Berkeley.   I will volunteer to help a volunteer group.  My goal is to help plan, incentivize, organize, mediate and educate a way out of our mess.  My belief is we can make a profit recycling and reusing plastics.  

Here's what I'll start with:  If you are a Berkeley resident please start to volunteer.  If you're not, hopefully the websites I'm listing can help your community advance their recycling program, and you can be the local who helps get it going.  I'm glad China isn't taking our plastic anymore.  To believe they were doing something ecological with it was fool-hearty at best.

 

 

Summary update 10/15/2019:

How will Berkeley address the needs of its residents to recycle foams and plastic films and eliminate receipt printing pollution from thermal paper?  If you drive by the Transfer Station on Gilman it is stacked high with the recycled material they are storing.  Obviously this can't go on, and Berkeley will start to put all our blue, brown cart contents in landfill.  

 

Below are copies of letters I wrote.

 

The first is to my Berkeley city council member Lori Droste.  So far she's insisted on referring me to the Zero Waste Commission, who tell me City Council staff and members make all decisions.  I'm getting dizzy.  I haven't received a reply to my letter, but will attend the November 5th City Council Zero Waste Commission joint workshop.  More to come...

 

The second one is to the CEO of Epson Printers asking him to consider creating a database for all customers based upon their phone number so they can purchase their merchandise, regardless of what store they are shopping in, by imputing their phone number and password.  I'm not surprised I haven't heard back.  Printers and polluting our environment with chemically treated paper is their core business and they would have to make a drastic redesign of their business...OK.  Maybe it's time for that.

 

The third letter is to Heidi Obermeit, a very helpful and knowledgeable person running the Recycling, in Berkeley.  I am simply updating her on some possible recycling companies that can take our collected plastics.  

 

My next letters will be to Safeway, Whole Foods, and Lucky's, the largest grocery stores in our vicinity asking them, who are Epson's direct customers to approach Epson for a new method of handling receipts that does not entail printing and retaining receipts for return or refund.  If I still get no response, my next letter will be to a little know but innovative grocery, Aldi.  It was started in Germany and is finally making inroads on the American market.  They are open to reducing costs, creating efficiency, offering healthy choices.  Basically giving us a better grocery experience.  If our flagships don't respond this alternative market might want to create their own software database. 

 

Letter to Berkeley City Council Member Lori Droste

October 5, 2019

 

Hi Lori,

Thanks for responding. No, Kerry didn't get back to me, but that's OK. Early on Chrise de Tournay responded to a comment I made on Nextdoor and explained the commission.

 

the commission is not in charge of figuring out the recycling situation, but City Zero Waste staff, Community Conservation Center and Ecology Center representative(s) all attend. As a citizen advisory group, we are able to make recommendations to City Council, but have no decision making authority. Our Zero Waste staff and City partners are the heroes here for trying to make sense of our recycling mess, and rest assured we all advocate for less plastic in our world. The new SUD and Litter Reduction ordinance was passed by Council earlier this year, and Commission had a strong hand in stakeholder outreach and public input. There is no disagreement across the board that we need to reduce plastic and single-use items!”

 

I went to 2 of the 3 last commission meetings, made comments, volunteered to help, and have been doing my own research which, when viable, I pass along in correspondence to Chrise and Heidi Obermeit.

 

I attended one workshop many months ago when the Transfer Station redesign was first being talked about. I understand there is to be another work session November 5th, with city council in attendance. I plan on being there, although I feel any redesign of the Transfer Station is a waste of city resources, especially staff and volunteer time. Better signage to and inside the station, plus traffic management of the entire horrid Gilman intersection area would give results as least as good as any total rearrangement of its buildings.

 

The 9.6 acre Transfer Station is too small and the area too congested to do what Berkeley needs done with their waste. Especially, it is too small to accommodate the most important transfer method of all, rail.

 

Ecology Center collection vehicles need to deliver all recyclable material to a location where they can easily be transported to an off-site (probably out of city) sorting facility and from there to their appropriate re-processing plants. Not to plan for rail transport is not to plan at all. Rail transport is the cheapest, least polluting, most expedient method of allowing our city access to the most recycling companies that can process our waste into useful products.

 

Also once recycled materials are off-loaded to another location for sorting the Transfer Station on Gilman would have enough space to start sorting the bulk pickup loads from residences. Bulk pickup often has a lot of material that Urban Ore is not interested in, but that can be recycled. Material that is too large for residences to put in their curbside carts and too heavy to load into their cars and bring to the transfer station. To get to Zero Waste Berkeley needs to sort bulk pickup. Although I commend your effort passing SUD into law, to overlook for so many years adding a process solution that would progress our city towards Zero Waste does not show good management.

 

Yes, the suggestions I've made will cost more money. The days of cheap throw-a-ways are over. The sooner you break that news to your constituents the better for you, the better for us and the world.

 

Thanks for your time and hard work.  I will see you on November 5th.

Adele Poenisch

 

Letter to Epson CEO Keith Kratzberg

September 23, 2019

 

Keith Kratzberg CEO

Epson America, Inc.

3840 Kilroy Airport Way, Long Beach, CA 90806

 

Dear Mr. Kratzberg,

I write you as a customer and a tax payer. Your company is the leader in Point of Sale technology so I am approaching you first to offer a suggestion to modify, really revolutionize, the POS process.

 

While there is a software (emailing) alternative to printing a receipt, the result is not convenient for the customer. If we need the receipt for tax purposes or to return an item it still must be printed. Emailing means it will likely be lost somewhere in our overcrowded inbox.

 

Receipts plague us. Their presence is oppressive. They are everywhere at home, but nowhere to be found when we want to return something. We have to keep them for years to prove a tax deduction, and if we innocently include returned items on our taxes returns, we create more problems.

 

So, I'd like your company to move a step into the future and stop printing receipts. Instead create a database storage for each person based on their telephone number.

 

At POS people would login using their phone number and a password. After scanning their items they would choose a payment method. Upon payment, a receipt of the item in the form of an instance is added to their database. Included with the item description is the cost, date of purchase and/or delivery date, store of purchase and its return policy, expiration of product, taxes and handling/shipping charges, etc.

 

A person could access their receipt database at anytime from any computer, can copy an instance to a file, print, or notate it for tax or other purposes, but they can't create a new instance of an item. If they want to return something, they can bring it back to the store and login to the phone number account. The clerk, who has rights to modify an instance, can indicate a refund has been given.

 

When doing taxes a person could easily sort by year, item, notated purpose, etc. and copy the results to a file or print them. If audited, the file could be easily checked against the real receipt instances in the database. As instances are always up-to-date on returned items, the problem with inaccurate accounting on taxes wouldn't happen.

Today I visited Epson America website and was pleased to see your company is committed to realizing the SDG goals of the United Nations. I hope my suggestion can aid you in that commitment.

Best regards,

Adele Poenisch

 

To Heidi Obermeit of the Berkeley Recycling:

Thanks, Heidi.

Am waiting with bated breath for news about the possibility of recycling our plastic through the East Coast company WasteZero Today, who want to expand on the West Coast.

But before we give them our plastic waste it's important to consider all uses.

Recently Nextdoor has been blogging about the sorry state of Berkeley sidewalks. So I'd like to suggest this East Coast company consider rather than shipping our waste plastic across country to make into railroad ties, that they process the plastic at a local facility or that we process it ourselves to make it into material to be used for raised sidewalks. Raising the sidewalks would avoid tree roots and make a smooth path for pedestrians. We all need and want to keep our urban forest healthy. At the same time citizens deserve to be safe from injury, and let's not forget the city needs to protect itself from lawsuits.

In addition to sidewalk repair. How about our streets? If India can do it seems Berkeley should be able to. Please look at  Plastic Streets of India.

Remember the adage, “One person's junk is another person's treasure.” 

Also:

I copied you a few weeks ago a letter I sent to the CEO of Epson Printers, king of the point of sale.

Needless to say I have not heard back. I will continue with exploring the online account idea with a few software companies now. While Epson may not be interested in reinventing themselves, a competitor might not mind taking over the receipt printer market share. Regardless, continued exposure of the thermal paper problem by discussion and government intervention is a good thing to produce a change for the better.

 

Best,

Adele