What Makes Pope Francis’ Environmental Activism Different

Published by Good on June 17, 2015  Written by Mark Hay

What Makes Pope Francis’ Environmental Activism Different

On Monday morning, the Italian magazine L’Espresso leaked a copy of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’s eagerly awaited encyclical (a non-binding and fallible, but weighty papal teaching) on climate change, its effects on have-nots, and the role of the Catholic Church in supporting a green, sustainable future. A 192-page letter compiled by Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, this Thursday the document will be sent out to 5,000 bishops and 400,000 priests around the world so that they might share the pope’s thoughts on these weighty topics with the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics. The Vatican, irate over the violation of its press embargo, has stressed that the leaked version may not be the final or authoritative draft, and the just-rushed translations are suspect and likely inferior to the coming official release. But from what we’ve seen so far, it looks like those expectant masses can look forward to some compelling environmental sermons.

While the turns of phrase in the text may be powerful, its basic message (support renewables, recognize climate change’s costs to the poor, etc.) probably won’t cover any truly new ground for the Pope, the Church, or climate change activists at large. In fact, the true power of this document—and the thing sending supporters and detractors into various tizzies—is less the encyclical’s content and more the Pope behind it, his mode of delivery, and the wave of effective advocacy he’s using the encyclical to portend.

A cursory scan of the Italian text’s limited available translations reveals it to be a forceful, lyrical document, bidding Catholics to “enlighten the masters of power and money so that they should not fall prey to the sin of indifference,” amongst other calls to action. Personifying the Earth, it makes pleading moral cases for a beneficial stewardship by man over the planet.

“Today we can’t avoid stating that a true ecological approach must always become a social approach,” the current draft loftily claims, “integrating justice in the debate around the environment, so that we listen to the cry of Earth as much as we listen to the one of the poor.”

But though this encyclical is the most concentrated and authoritative declaration on such issues to date, the Catholic Church has been making strong, progressive statements on the environment for about a quarter century now. The last two popes were especially vocal on issues related to climate change, although often in highly intellectual and abstract ways. In fact as early as 2008, members of the church indicated that we might see environmental degradation as one of the modern seven deadly sins. Pope Francis’s new encyclical refers explicitly to this precedent quite often, painting itself as if it were a document of continuity and clarity rather than novelty or innovative ideas. And those within the Catholic Church have long joined representatives of other faiths in making outright and explicit theological arguments about the need to stem pollution and save the environment, tying a usually dry scientific argument into the language of morality and brining a sense of incumbent duty into their pulpits.

Despite this ample and vocal precedent, ever since Pope Francis announced his intent to produce an encyclical last December, the world has been awaiting it with bated breath.

That’s probably in part because it’s the cornerstone of a year of intense activism, starting off in January with powerful statements about man’s definitive role in climate change, moving through a spring summit on environmental issues, and culminating with a speech before the United Nations General Assembly in September. His world tour will wrap up just before the globe’s leaders convene in Paris from November 30 to December 11 in an attempt to negotiate legally binding treaties that would stabilize greenhouse gas emissions and prevent catastrophic temperature rises—a process which he hopes to influence and help shepherd towards fruition.

But a pope going on a social campaign, encyclical in hand, is not necessarily cause for excitement in and of itself. For every influential encyclical-based campaign, like Pope John Paul II’s march against dictatorships in the 1980s, there’s a resounding dud like Pope Paul VI’s 1968 Humanae Vitae, which attempted (and in much of the world failed) to convince Catholics to reject birth control. Humanae Vitae especially made it clear that it’s pretty easy for Catholics to ignore papal teachings they disagree with, silencing social campaigns into irrelevance. And we might have expected, given the strong base of climate-skeptical Catholics in countries like America, that they might have tried to just ignore Laudate Sii as well (or at least brush it aside with minimal concern)—especially as Pope Francis’s previous pleas and first encyclical on morality seemingly had little effect on the agendas of most Catholic congregations in America.

Yet instead of just ignoring the now-leaked encyclical, opponents of the established messages contained within it have gotten their knickers all in a twist, crawling out of the woodwork to refute the document even before its release. Some have attacked the pope, saying that by accepting climate change as a dangerous reality, he is arrogantly trying to tout himself as a climate science expert. Others (like the Heartland Institute, a prominent Koch-backed anti-encyclical force) have softly tried to suggest that the pope’s intentions are good, but his facts are deeply flawed and his scientific advisors have misguided him. Some even approach the encyclical from a theological stance, picking a fight with the pope on what the Book of Genesis means when it refers to man’s stewardship over the earth and our responsibilities to the environment.

“Though Pope Francis’s heart is surely in the right place,” Heartland Institute president Joseph Bast recently cautioned, “he would do his flock and the world a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United Nations’ unscientific agenda on the climate.”

“The pope ought to stay with his job,” a more blunt and less charitable U.S. Congressman (and climate change skeptic) James Inhofe later added.

Opponents probably felt that they had to engage aggressively with the document beyond a cursory refutation or rejection because climate change activists (even the secular ones) have painted it as a divine artifact of salvation for the movement. To get a sense of the level of enthusiasm and anticipation, just check out the epic preview trailer created for the document by some Brazilian activists. Many have stressed the document’s potential to speak about climate change to the whole of the Catholic world from a position of authority, using simple but compelling language to transform a dry debate on practical economics and scientific fact into a moral issue. Environmentalists see that the pope’s clout could instigate a potential sea change within his flock, jump-starting conversations the world over and significantly swaying the upcoming Paris talks.

“The expectations for this document are huge,” Neil Thomas, advocacy directory of the Catholic aid agency Cafod, wrote in The Guardian last month after attending the Vatican’s recent summit on climate issues. “Regardless of their faith, every single person who attended the meeting, alongside the general public, is looking to the Pope to drive momentum and create an atmosphere where world leaders will act on climate change, looking beyond national borders and our immediate generation.”

Proponents are certainly at least right about one thing: The encyclical is being delivered by someone in a place of trust and perceived integrity. Previous popes have been far less charismatic, direct, and popular than Pope Francis (whose global approval ratings were 60 percent in 2014, 84 percent amongst European Catholics). Since coming to power in March 2013, the present pope has proven himself a bold man, a savvy negotiator, and a smooth political operator, playing a major role in the ongoing reconciliation between America and Cuba and sneakily recognizing Palestine as a state for the first time in Vatican history—and that’s just within the past half-year.

In a sense, the encyclical was slated to start a beneficial conversation no matter what it held, just because it was so effectively teased by a charismatic salesman-pope and embraced conceptually by so many advocates, even before its release. Long before the leak, ecological Catholic groups reported that they were already getting more requests for information. In the face of this hype, opponents felt compelled to react. And in their reactions they’ve only wound up delivering more and more attention to the document, creating a virtuous (or vicious, depending on your viewpoint) cycle to the hype and generating a self-fulfilling prophecy for the encyclical and its contents.

It helps that we can now see that within the document (or at least its provisional translations) that it’s a text of some artistry and moral fortitude. It’s likely been crafted to be the ultimate global book club read, full of quotable bites and passages crafted to inspire thought and discussion. Take this gem, full of lamentation, personification, and bold assertions, for example:

“We have grown up thinking that we were [the Earth’s] owners and dominators, authorized to loot her. The violence that exists in the human heart, wounded by sin, is also manifest in the symptoms of illness that we see in the Earth, the water, the air and in living things.”

The encyclical really can jump-start climate change talks in the lead-up to the Paris negotiations, as advertised. But while many have sold the text itself as the groundbreaking juice needed to get things moving, the document is merely a jumper cable, conducting the power of an energetic leader and his campaign. What we’re counting on now is less the power of the encyclical than the potency of papal influence—the charismatic magic a man can work from a position of trust to create global conversations, name and shame world leaders, and promote righteous viewpoints. That’s not a bad thing for supporters to put their hopes into; Francis is an exceptionally popular figure with an established track record of moving his global agenda forward.

 

About Mark Hay Author:    An over-educated ex-grad student turned freelancer living in Brooklyn, Mark Hay has a background in history, sociology, and religious studies / theology. Nowadays he writes about anything under the big tent of culture, faith, and identity

How to Stop Wasting Money at the Grocery Store

19 Ways You’re Wasting Money at the Grocery Store
by Euna Park 6/10/15

Are you still spending too much money at the grocery store even with coupons and after reading tips on how to save money while shopping? Maybe that’s because some of your own shopping habits are making you buy and spend more. Take a look at our list of bad grocery shopping habits, and get rid of them once and for all!

1) Not checking what’s left in your pantry and fridge: Before you head to the grocery store, do a quick inventory of what’s left in your kitchen. Maybe that half-gallon of milk will last you through the week and you don’t need to buy another gallon after all. Not checking what’s left in your kitchen can make you buy more things than you actually need.

2) Not making a grocery list: Having a grocery list can help you shop faster and, of course, get everything you need. Forgetting to buy something is not only annoying and wastes time, but it also wastes money. When is the last time you went to the store to pick up that one thing you forgot to buy and ended up with a few extra things in your basket?

3) Avoiding crowds and shopping earlier in the week: Shopping on weekends or during busy hours can be really hectic — we get it. But not only do you buy more when you’re leisurely strolling through the aisles, but also retailers put out more coupons and deals during the latter half of the week when they know there will be more customers.

4) Bringing your kids to the store: While grocery shopping might seem like a fun family activity, it’s not helping you save any money. Kids will inevitably beg you for that candy bar or sugary cereal, and you’ll eventually give in.

5) Going to the store hungry: We’ve all made this mistake. Going to the grocery store hungry is a surefire way to buy things you don’t really need. Try not to shop with your nose, and avoid the freshly baked section if possible.

6) Using a large shopping cart: Using a spacious shopping cart can trick your mind into buying more things than you need. Try grocery shopping with a basket or a smaller cart, and you’ll be less inclined to pile things on.

7) Buying overpriced “convenient” foods: We’ve all heard the saying, “time is money.” But is it really? While it might save you a couple extra minutes to buy shredded carrot, sliced apples, and peeled garlic, let’s compare the prices: at Safeway, peeled garlic costs $5.49 a pound, whereas unpeeled garlic costs 79 cents a pound. That’s almost seven times more expensive. And with this garlic-peeling trick, you can peel a whole head of garlic in just 10 seconds, so why pay extra for convenience?

8) Buying meat or cheese from the deli: Buying fresh meat, seafood, or cheese from the deli is usually more expensive than buying prepackaged. Unless you need a specific cut of meat that isn’t in the meat section, try to avoid the deli.

9) Not buying generic: Oftentimes, grocery stores will sell generic brands or store-brand versions to your favorite brand goods, and they will be much cheaper.

10) Buying things fresh instead of frozen: There are some things that are worth buying fresh, but there are others that are just as good frozen. If you’re buying fruits to throw into your blender for a smoothie, they don’t need to be fresh. Frozen blueberries, strawberries, etc., are picked at their peak of ripeness and frozen immediately, so they taste just as good and will last longer (and keep your smoothie ice-cold!).

11) Buying disguised water: If you’re buying things like quarts of chicken stock and bottled tea, you’re essentially paying extra for water. One bottle of green tea can cost between $1 and $2, whereas 20 bags (therefore, 20 servings) of green tea cost $3 to $4. An even more drastic example is chicken stock. One quart of chicken stock can cost anywhere from $2 to $4, whereas a jar of chicken base costs $3 to $6 and can make 10 quarts of stock. Plus you can also save fridge and pantry space if you buy less disguised water.

12) Buying organic when you don’t need to: Buying organic can get pricey, especially if you’re buying everything organic. Knowing when to buy organic and when not to buy organic is crucial if you want to save some money. Fruits like avocado, pineapple, and watermelon don’t need to be organic because their thick skins protect the flesh from pesticides, while vegetables like onions don’t attract many pests at all. See the full list of foods you don’t need to buy organic.

13) Not buying seasonal goods: Buying fruits and vegetables that are in season will help you save so much money. Use this app to figure out when certain produce is in season, and plan your meals around that.

14) Not comparing prices: Not only should you be comparing prices between different brands, but you should also be comparing the price of different sizes within a brand. Should you buy in bulk or individually? Should you buy the larger, family-sized bottle or a smaller one? Try calculating the price per pound or ounce to see which is a more frugal choice. Also retailers like to put the most expensive products at eye level, so try looking at the top or bottom shelves for better prices.

15) Not using coupons for household essentials/staples: We’re often told to use coupons with caution — buying something we don’t need just because we have a coupon does not save money. But for household essentials like laundry detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, etc., keep an eye out for coupons and stock up on those staples when they’re on sale.

16) Not taking things out at the last minute: If you’re standing in line at the cash register and realize you don’t really need that bag of pretzels you impulsively threw in, don’t hesitate to take it out. You can either return it to the aisle or ask the cashier to take it.
Impulse buying at the cash register: Oh, those candy bars and sweet snacks will forever tempt us at the cash register. But be strong and try not to grab anything at the last minute! 17) Not only are you impulse buying, but those candy bars are often not the best price compared to buying in bulk at the candy aisle.

18) Not bringing your reusable shopping bag: Many states are moving toward charging customers for grocery bags, and while paper bags are only 10 cents each, they sure can add up year after year. If you don’t have reusable shopping bags, try making your own with a t-shirt.

19) Not checking your receipt: Start a habit of checking your receipt to see if there were any mistakes. You can even use that time to really think about whether you need everything you just bought. Most grocery stores will accept returns for a full refund.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Jae Payne

Water Use -DID YOU KNOW (DYK) is Directly Related to Income?

images

In posh parts of northern San Diego County, residents on average used more than 580 gallons of water a day in September. During the same month, Angelenos in less-affluent East L.A. used an average of 48 gallons a day, according to data that state water officials released Tuesday, which shows for the first time just how dramatically water use varies among California communities.
Lowest water consumption in California

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Hoping to increase conservation, the State Water Resources Control Board released estimates of residential daily water use per person in September, as reported by more than 300 urban water suppliers. The heaviest water users, the data showed, used more than 10 times as much as those who used the least.

Statewide, residents in some water districts used an average of more than 500 gallons per capita a day, while others used as little as 46 gallons. The Santa Fe Irrigation District, which serves residents in an affluent part of northern and coastal San Diego County, recorded the highest average, 584 gallons. Southland water users served by the Desert Water Agency and Coachella Valley Water District, both in desert areas, weren’t far behind, using more than 360 gallons per capita a day.
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Two water distributors in San Francisco and one in East Los Angeles recorded the lowest average totals, 46, 46 and 48, respectively. In Santa Cruz, which has some of the toughest conservation measures in the state, residents used an average of 49 gallons per person a day.

In Los Angeles County, Beverly Hills residents used 286 gallons per person daily, while Compton residents used only 65. Residents served by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power used 93 gallons a day. About four-dozen water districts did not report per capita data.

Still, water officials and experts said the information will help water districts understand exactly how much residents use and identify areas for improvement.
We’re hoping water agencies will look at this list and use it for self-evaluation: How are people in their area doing and how they can do better? – Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board

“We’re hoping water agencies will look at this list and use it for self-evaluation: How are people in their area doing and how they can do better?” Water Resources Control Board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus said. “It’s not a report card; It’s an instructive thing.”

Experts said higher per capita water usage make sense in areas where lot sizes are larger and in hotter regions of the state where water evaporates faster. A recent UCLA study also found that household income is a primary driver of increased water use.
cComments

Just shows as to how much use, abuse and waste in the CA decadent life style is a burden on the rest plus what this nation has become. By all means, if there is plenty of water, conservation takes a back seat. But with the kind of drought that plagues CA the numbers from over 500 to 300 gallons…
winemaster2
at 1:53 AM November 06, 2014

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“If those communities that could do something haven’t done anything [to conserve], we’re missing a huge opportunity to work together as Angelenos,” said Miguel Luna, executive director of Urban Semillas, a community organization focused on food and water issues. “South L.A. and East L.A. have done their part. Now the affluent communities need to ante up.”

The new data come as Californians work to cut water usage to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of a 20% reduction statewide. Since May, the state water board has been reporting water usage reductions. Overall, Californians continued to use less water in September, but the reductions were more modest than in August. The board announced that statewide water consumption dropped 10.3% — about 22 billion gallons — in September, compared with the same month a year earlier. In August, water use fell 11.5% compared with August 2013.

Water officials and other experts have long maintained that Southern Californians have been aggressively conserving water for years, a factor they say accounts for the region’s smaller monthly usage reductions compared with other areas of the state. Many Northern California areas have reported steeper monthly cuts, but officials have warned against drawing comparisons because southern residents already use less water.

Tuesday’s data showed that, on average, Southern California residents used 119 gallons per person a day — the fourth-lowest average among 10 regions the water board tracked.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power saw an 8% decrease in water use in September compared with the same month last year after reporting a similar decrease in August. In a statement, DWP General Manager Marcie Edwards said the September numbers show that DWP customers “continue to watch their water use and do their part during the drought.”

Save the Bees!

Save the Bees
Save the Bees!

We are on a mission to save the bees! Join us!
Learn more in these articles:
1. Study strengthens link between neonicotinoids and collapse of honey bee colonie: http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/05/study-strengthens-link-neonicotinoids-collapse-honey-bee-colonies
2. Bees more crucial to modern agriculture than fertilizer: http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/06/bees-crucial-modern-agriculture-fertilizer
3. “Beepocolypse”: http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/04/congress-care-beepocalypse
4. The other bees: http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/04/bees
5. Seed treatments and neonics: http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/03/new-report-widely-used-neonicotinoid-seed-treatments-unnecessary-cases

Plastic-bag makers fighting California’s ban are “buying their way onto the ballot,” environmental

Plastic-bag makers want you to overturn California’s bag ban

Plastic-bag makers fighting California's ban are “buying their way onto the ballot,” environmental

Plastic-bag makers fighting California’s ban are “buying their way onto the ballot,” environmental

by David Lazarus, Nov. 4, 2014 for the Los Angeles Times

Listening to the plastic-bag industry oppose bans on their product is eerily similar to what carmakers said decades ago in opposition to seat belts and air bags.

Bad idea, they argued. Bad for consumers. Won’t accomplish what supporters intend.

In fact, seat belts cut the number of crash-related injuries and deaths in half, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the combination of seat belts and air bags reduced fatalities by more than 60%.

And now we have plastic-bag manufacturers claiming that bans at the local and state level hurt the economy, kill jobs, tax the poor and don’t actually help the environment.

“It’s yet another job-killing, big grocer cash grab masquerading as an environmental bill,” Mark Daniels, chairman of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, said of California’s ban on plastic bags that takes effect in July.
It’s yet another job-killing, big grocer cash grab masquerading as an environmental bill. – Mark Daniels, chairman of the American Progressive Bag Alliance

A ban on plastic bags in Los Angeles County took effect four months ago. A 10-cent fee is charged for paper bags.

The plastic-bag industry, like the auto industry before it, wants people to think it’s fighting the good fight on behalf of personal freedom, individual liberty and common sense.

All it’s really doing is trying to protect its profits.

The plastic-bag industry is now gearing up — and spending heavily — to place a referendum on the November 2016 ballot that would overturn California’s bag ban. It has until Dec. 29 to collect the more than 500,000 signatures needed to put the matter to voters.
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I spotted an ad on Craigslist for people to receive $1.50 for every signature they gather in support of the referendum. “It is basically to reverse the ban,” the ad says, “but the way you pitch is to vote on it whether you want it or not.”

Daniels acknowledged that the industry is employing professional signature gatherers.

Plastics companies recently contributed about $1.2 million toward the referendum campaign, according to public records. All but $50,000 came from companies based outside California.

The largest donation — $566,666.67 — was made by South Carolina’s Hilex Poly, one of the country’s largest plastic-bag makers and the main provider of funds for Daniels’ American Progressive Bag Alliance.

Indeed, when he isn’t defending “progressive” bags, which are more friendly sounding than plastic bags, Daniels is Hilex Poly’s vice president of sustainability and environmental policy.
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California’s ban, Daniels told me, is not about the environment. “It’s about a backroom deal to scam Californians out of billions of dollars.”

By the industry’s reckoning, he said, state lawmakers bowed to pressure from grocery stores and unions to require that consumers pay extra for paper or reusable bags.

“We’re getting inundated with calls from Californians thanking us for doing this,” Daniels said of the planned referendum. “It’s very encouraging for our industry.”

Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, which spearheaded the statewide bag ban, said he very much doubted that bag makers are being swamped with calls of support from state residents.

About 60% of voters said they support the statewide bag ban, according to a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll released Friday.
cComments

Kill the ban! I’ve questioned why the bag ban only targeted plastic grocery bags, but yet there is no ban against the Hefty or GLAD plastic trash bags we all use every day. Makes no sense. Stupid leftists and union leaders! In anticipation of the ban (I live in Riverside where the ban…
dvphoto
at 12:46 PM November 04, 2014

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Murray said the industry’s claims of broad support mirror its insistence that plastic bags are environmentally safe. “They don’t have a real argument, so they’re using bogus arguments,” he said.

A plastics industry website, BagTheBan.com, says that “studies show banning plastic bags could increase global warming, put more carbon in the air, require more trucks on the road and use up more water because consumers would be forced to use resource-heavy alternatives like paper and reusable bags.”

The reality, Murray said, is that plastic bags are a blight on the landscape after being discarded by careless consumers or blowing from trash cans, garbage trucks or landfills.

The Natural Resources Defense Council reported last year that California communities spend more than $428 million a year trying to prevent litter from entering the state’s waterways.

Plastic bags make up as much as a quarter of all that trash, the group found. They pose a threat to wildlife, clog storm drains and threaten vital industries, such as tourism and commercial fishing, it said.

“The environmental cost of this product far exceeds its utility,” Murray said.

He said California’s bag ban was the result of many hours of public hearings and negotiations with interested parties. But because the industry didn’t get its way, Murray said, “they’re now just buying their way onto the ballot.”

It’s a fair point. If Californians were clamoring for an end to a law that hasn’t even taken effect yet, they’d be signing petitions at a grass-roots level, not at the behest of mercenary hustlers making $1.50 a signature.

The California Legislature passed a bill in 2011 that would have prohibited petition circulators being paid on a per-signature basis, but it was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown. He said the legislation was “a dramatic change to a long-established democratic process in California.”

Contrast that with Oregon, which in 2002 required that petition circulators be paid by the hour, not per signature gathered. Since then, the state’s initiative process hasn’t died. It’s just become more representative of the public’s wishes.

Both Daniels and Murray predicted that a referendum on California’s bag ban will come before voters in 2016. Even if it fails to pass, it would likely delay implementation of the ban for months.

And that would translate into additional profit for the bag industry.

Call it the best democracy money can buy.

Manhattan Beach extends bans on plastic bags, polystyrene products

Plastic bags and polystyrene products could soon become a thing of the past in Manhattan Beach.

Poly styrene packaging

The City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to prohibit restaurants from distributing single-use carry-out plastic bags and to extend its ban on polystyrene products to include utensils, straws, cup lids and foam coolers. After a second reading of the ordinances at the April 1 City Council meeting, the new laws could become enforceable as early as June.

The city made headlines in July 2008 as one of the first municipalities to ban the distribution of plastic bags for all retail establishments. Following a lawsuit from The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, the city battled to prove the legality of the ban and ultimately won, with the California Supreme Court upholding the ordinance and ordering the coalition to pay the city’s legal fees. In 2012, however, the Manhattan Beach City Council amended the law to exempt restaurants from the ban to avoid further litigation under the California Retail Food Code.

Tuesday’s vote lifts this exemption, and Manhattan Beach can be confident that it will not invite more lawsuits from the plastic bag industry, said the city’s environmental programs manager Sona Koffee, citing a failed lawsuit against the city and county of San Francisco last December.

Some 180 restaurants in Manhattan Beach will be affected by the amendment, Koffee said, adding that city staff has provided them with a list of vendors who offer alternatives—such as reusable bags or paper bags made with recycled materials—with comparable prices. With direction from the Council Tuesday, the ban will also apply to food trucks and push carts.

Currently, the enforcement of the plastic bag ban is solely complaint based, Koffee said, but city staff is considering inspections as well as a mandatory acknowledgement in annual business license renewal process. The polystyrene ban is currently enforced in this manner.

Last August, the Manhattan Beach City Council introduced a ban on polystyrene containers used for distributing prepared food and directed city staff to research alternatives for items such as lids and straws.

Polystyrene is a disposable thermoplastic petrochemical material commonly used for food and drink containers. The ordinance as introduced outlaws two types of polystyrene – clear plastic and foam, commonly known as Styrofoam.

In addition to outlawing the distribution of polystyrene straws, cup lids, utensils and foam coolers, Tuesday’s vote prohibits the sale of such products and lifts the previous exemption for the Manhattan Beach Unified School District.

“They’re doing an excellent job to transition all the schools,” Koffee told the Council.

Alternatives include paper and plastic material that are not necessarily bio-degradable or plant-based but generally less harmful to individuals and the marine environment because people are more inclined to recycle them, she said.

So far, backlash has been limited to a statement from Ralph’s expressing that the chain grocery store would not be in support of the prohibition on selling their lines of polystyrene products, Koffee said.

Craig Cadwallader, resident and South Bay chairperson of the Surfrider Foundation, commended the City Council for blazing a trail in environmental policies.

“I just gotta say, this is what makes me proud to be a resident of this city,” Cadwallader said. “This is one of those intelligent things that this council continues to do. We’re actually setting the pace rather than following behind and doing things halfway.”

Mayor Amy Howorth credited past Councilmembers as well as former Mayor Portia Cohen, explaining that Tuesday night’s motions were the culmination of their tireless efforts to protect the environment.

“I’m glad we have kept up this legacy,” Howorth said. “It’s incredibly important and it’s very instructive, I hope, for other cities. We do differ on a lot of issues, as we should, to get to good decisions, but we all understand that this is so important. California leads the way, but Manhattan Beach, little Manhattan Beach, leads the way.”