Category Archives: Plastic

Transition Inspiration from Port Washington NY

Transition Town Port Washington (on the northern shore of Long Island NY) is hard at work educating its community and collaborating with like-minded organizations to carry out so many things that we too believe in: climate action as a member of Communities United to Reduce Emissions 100% (CURE); plastics reduction (with a recent very informative article on “Plastics: The Everlasting Epidemic“; divesting from fossil fuel investments (which the the $226 billion NY state pension fund is actually doing); and much more. We thank them for the inspiration!

Updating recent WC Green Team activities: Earth Day, Plastics

Earth Day

Earth Day in West Chester Borough was a resounding success for the Green Team. This year the WCGT partnered with West Chester University Assistant Professor of Communication Megan Schraedley and her class of organizational communication students. This partnership resulted in a dynamic Art Festival and Stroll event, spreading the word about Earth Day and sustainability in the Borough. Dr. Schraedley and her students helped plan the Earth Day Art Festival & Stroll which took place on April 22nd throughout the Borough.

This event had two parts. The first part showcased sustainable art pieces digitally on our Instagram page and in-person at the Chester County Historical Center. The second part featured an in-person sidewalk chalking event along High Street. At the CCHC, local students and artists created several nature-themed art pieces for display. These pieces used natural and upcycled materials such as plastic water bottles, found wood, clay, and cardboard to bring public awareness to nature’s beauty as well as how to find other uses for single-use materials. Please check out our Instagram page, @wc_green_team, to see these works of art.

In addition, the WCU students marketed and planned a successful sidewalk chalking event that took place on April 22nd along High Street. Families, schoolchildren, college students, business owners, and other local organizations came together to participate in this community event.

In total, we estimated over 100 people came out to support Earth Day and the WCGT, including the mayor of the Borough, Jordan Norley, who publicly recognized the West Chester Green Team’s sustainability work by presenting us with the keys to the city. The WCGT unveiled our new Transition sign (check out more info about Transition here) and Mayor Norley spoke highly of the work the WCGT is doing to improve quality of life in the Borough.

For more info and images of Earth Day, including noteworthy remarks by Rani Norley, see here.

Plastics-Free Please

This spring, the West Chester Green Team informed businesses in the Borough about how to acquire a Sustainable Storefronts certification, available through the Borough’s Sustainability Advisory Council. This voluntary certification available for retail businesses and restaurants is an important step towards eliminating single-use plastics in the Borough.

To tackle this issue, the WCGT partnered with Megan Schraedley, an Assistant Professor of Communication at WCU, and one of her organizational communication classes to contact local businesses. Together, we contacted dozens of businesses in the Borough and spoke with them about sustainability and the Sustainable Storefronts program. From these conversations, we helped the following local businesses become Sustainable Storefronts certified: Dia Doce, Meatball U, Bryn Mawr Running Co., Dolce Zola, 5 Senses, and Hop Fidelity.

Many thanks to these businesses for jumping on board with sustainability and joining the Sustainable Storefronts program! They are leaders for the future of the community. Be sure to thank them for joining the next time you visit any of these establishments. You can see other businesses who have joined at the Borough’s site.

Later this year, we hope to recognize these businesses for joining the Sustainable Storefronts program, so please be on the lookout for more information.

See also the Plastic-Free Please Facebook page here.

West Chester Area Transition

See information on our latest initiative here.

Sustainable Storefronts in West Chester

Since West Chester Borough passed legislation in 2019 banning most one-time uses of plastic bags and straws, implementation has been delayed by state claims of “pre-emption” and the Covid epidemic. However, progress has continued under the Sustainable Storefronts initiative, which asks businesses to adhere to a set of plastic-reduction principles. Those that have received the Borough’s recognition in this way so far (from the Borough’s “Single-Use Plastics” web page) are:

Congratulations to those businesses and we are hoping for many more soon! Many thanks also to WCU communications students, who as a class project are reaching out to encourage businesses to join the effort.

Here are the Borough’s criteria for recognition under Sustainable Storefronts:

Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes – Choose 3 of 5

  • Use recyclable paper bags for takeout
  • No plastic straws – biodegradable option by request
  • No Styrofoam
  • No plastic takeout containers
  • 100% reusable wares for on-site dining

Retail – commit to all

  • Use recyclable paper bags
  • Encourage customers to BYO bags

Panel on cutting plastics use, 4/21/21

Plastic Free Chester County panel discussion on Wednesday April 21, 7 PM.  Panel moderator:  Prof. Megan Schraedley of the WCU Communications Department.  This semester she is guiding her class in working on plastics issues in consultation with the Borough of West Chester.  The panelists are Faran Savitz, plastics specialist from Penn Environment; Gillian Alicea, member, Sustainability Advisory Committee of WC Borough and liaison between SAC and Don’t Spray Me/WC Green Team;  State Representative Dianne Herrin, who as mayor of West Chester led the Borough’s effort to ban single-use plastic bags and straws.  The panel will update us on new directions in plastics both locally and at the county and state levels.  This panel is part of WCU’s Earth Week celebration.  All welcome. Virtual event.

RSVP at wcupa.edu/sustainability. Registration is free but required.

Sponsored by the WCU Office of Sustainability, the West Chester Green Team, and members of the Chester County Environmental Alliance.

West Chester, Phila et al. sue PA legislature over “ban on bans”

from PennEnvironment, 3/3/21

PA cities’ lawsuit to undo General Assembly’s preemption crucial to addressing plastic pollution

Municipalities must be empowered to address pollution issues when legislature won’t For Immediate Release Wednesday, March 3, 2021

image from West Chester Plastic-Free Please Action Group vigil, 2/14/20

PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia joined with the municipalities of Lower Merion, Narberth (Montgomery County) and West Chester (Chester County) to file a lawsuit Wednesday against Pennsylvania’s General Assembly. The suit claims the legislature unconstitutionally enacted a preemption law that strips the ability of local communities and officials across the commonwealth to implement ordinances addressing waste and litter from single-use plastics. 

This action comes as mounting data shows that plastic pollution has significant negative effects on our health and environment. Notably, a report released this week by PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center found microplastic contamination existed in 100 percent of water samples taken from more than 50 of Pennsylvania’s most popular rivers, lakes and streams

PennEnvironment Executive Director David Masur issued the following statement

read more at PennEnvironment

Tell Whole Foods Market: Planet Over Plastic

Below is the text of a petition from our allies at PennEnvironment. Please sign on here and consider mentioning the issue to any Whole Foods store where you shop. If you can help the WC Green Team’s Plastic-Free Please group in any way, please contact us here.

In 2019, The Ocean Conservancy found that plastic food wrappers were the number one item of trash picked up on beaches worldwide. Single-use plastic packaging is a glaring example of a culture that prioritizes a moment’s convenience over the long-term health of our oceans. We don’t need it and, to protect wildlife and our ecosystems, we need to move beyond it.

That’s why we’re calling on Whole Foods to make a bold, time-bound commitment to reduce its plastic footprint. Help us tell Whole Foods Market that it must put the ‘planet over plastic’ by eliminating all single-use plastic packaging from its stores.

Plastics Industry Uses the Pandemic to Boost Production

This article by bporter from Green America on July 13, 2020, shows how industry uses any excuse not to respect the environment and the public interest.

Locally, we see that if you order groceries delivered or for pickup, you are also consuming a huge number, over double thickness, of single-use plastic bags; and even if you shop in person, many stores will not let you bring in your own bags (your own clothes and shoes, fine, it seems).

And In West Chester we’ve seen that the state legislature has taken the opportunity to extend its “ban on the ban” of single-use plastic bags and straws.

“…there is a lack of substantive evidence to back up claims that daily items such as single-use plastic bags and food service ware are less likely to transmit the coronavirus. The industry has commonly cited older studies that only confirm bacteria can accumulate on unwashed bags (and that washing reusable bags destroys the bacteria).

“Recently, over 100 scientists from 18 countries affirmed that reusables are safe and don’t increase the chance of virus transmission. They state that single-use plastics are not inherently safer and cause additional public health concerns….”

Read the article at Green America

Sick of Plastic vigil

The video “West Chester Green Team’s Silent Vigil Against Plastic Use,” with a representative 3 minutes of speakers and views, is now available at YouTube, with the caption:

“On Feb. 14, 2020, members of WCGT and other local environmental groups gathered to silently and peacefully protest plastic usage. Photography/Editing/Production by Tristan Bruecks of West Chester Marketing Consultant Group (WESCON).”

Two stills from the video:

Silent Vigil: Plastic Fri, February 14, 2020

Silent Vigil: Plastic
Fri, February 14, 2020, 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Historic Chester County Courthouse (corner of High and Market Streets)
West Chester, PA 19382

Sign up thru our EventBrite page so we can anticipate to the size of the group. Or use your camera to read the QR code next to the turtle below and sign up thru your smart phone.

Plastics vigil

Plastic bottles lying in the gutter. Grocery bags tangled in branches. Food wrappers scuttling across the ground on a windy day. Although such examples of litter easily come to mind, they only hint at the serious and growing problem of plastic pollution — a problem mostly hidden from view.

The West Chester Borough has signed a bill to ban single-use plastic bags and straws as of July 2, 2020. In practice, however, this will not become effective if we don’t show West Chester businesses that we are serious and want to make sure the ban is understood and followed up.

The silent vigil will be held at Historic Chester County Courthouse corner, where we can be seen and attract attention. This vigil is non-violent and as it’s a silent vigil we will not talk with the public about why we do this. To inform the public about the reason for this vigil, all of us will hold a large plastic detergent bottle and we will write a personal message about plastic on the bottle with a sharpie. We will also have small paper handouts with more details about why plastic is a problem.

You should be angry about what is happening to this earth and we want you to express your anger thru the clothes you wear. So join us and come to the Anti-Plastic vigil on Valentine’s Day and show your anger by wearing dark clothing and a hoodie.

Ban on Single Use Plastics, from West Chester Borough

[n.b. these measures have been on hold due to state opposition and the Covid epidemic, but the Sustainable Storefronts program is moving ahead.]

From West Chester Borough’s web site, about its upcoming ban on single-use plastic bags and straws:

CleanGreenEvent

The West Chester Borough is taking steps to curb single-use plastic waste. In July 2019 Borough Council approved an ordinance banning single use plastic bags and straws in West Chester, effective July 2nd 2020.

Key Dates:

  • September 2018 – local students ask Council to address single use plastic bags and straws  
  • July 2019 – Ordinance written and public hearing held. Council votes to approve ordinance
  • July 2020 – Enforcement begins July 2nd

Click here to read West Chester’s Single Use Plastic ordinance.

What do business owners need to know?

  • As of July 2nd 2020 distribution of plastic bags and straws will be prohibited within the Borough
  • Any bag distributed to customers must include 40% recycled content and be recyclable in the Borough. This is considered a “compliant bag”
  • Businesses are required to charge 10 cents per compliant bag distributed to customers, and disclose this fee on the sales receipt
  • Any business may request a year-long exemption for review by the Borough’s Sustainability Advisory Committee
  • Businesses observed to be violating the ordinance will receive a written warning, then a $100, $200, and $500 fine for successive violations in a single 12-month period

Exemptions

Businesses may request a one-time, one year exemption from the Borough’s 2019 Single Use Plastic Ban for consideration by the Borough’s Sustainability Advisory Committee. Click here to submit an exemption.