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Mitzvah Moments by Tish Levee -July 2016


Mitzvah Moments by Tish Levee - July 2016

by Tish Levee

Why does organic matter personally?

Besides everything organic farming means for the planet, you may personally care about what is in/on your food, especially fresh produce. The Environmental Working Group just issued the 2016 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides, including the “Dirty Dozen” list, and the “Clean Fifteen” list, which is great if you can’t always buy organic. Download it at

Plastics are taking over the ocean. 

Over five trillion pieces of plastic debris are in the ocean. Each year 100,000 sea creatures die from being entangled with plastic – and that’s just counts the ones who’re found; one million seabirds die; and at least two-thirds of the world’s fish suffer from ingested plastic.

Plastic bags are a big part of the problem.  

Plastic bags are the #1 thing sailors see in the ocean. Worldwide over 500 billion are used annually – that’s nearly ten million bags a minute. The US uses and throws away 100 billion of them, requiring at least 12 million barrels of oil annually. Less than 5% of them are recycled; it really isn’t an option as it costs $4,000 to recycle 1 tonne of plastic bags, but the resulting product is only worth $32.

Ban the Bag in November. 

This November we have a chance to ban plastic bags throughout California. In 2014 the legislature passed the first-in-the-nation ban on plastic bags, much like the ban already in place here in Sonoma County – and 137 other California local governmental areas. It was slated to take effect last July 1st, but four out-of-state plastic bag manufacturers have spent over $7 million to block this by placing it on the November ballot as a referendum.

Vote YES in November to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over l66,000 tons and fossil fuel use by 62 million tons. Find out what you can do to help at

Plastic bags not the only source of plastic in our oceans.  

Microbeads in cleaning products and cosmetics are a huge problem, but last December President Obama signed a bill banning them by 2017. Eight trillion of these tiny beads end up in our waterways daily, only 1% of the total. The rest end up sludge which become fertilizers, which eventually end up in – you guessed it – our waterways. These tiny beads, often mistaken for fish food, are ingested by marine life, and carry toxic products up the food chain with them.

Patagonia steps up to the plate with plastic fiber study. 

For years, Patagonia has been repurposing plastic bottles into fleece jackets; however early this century researchers looking at microplastics in the environment began to find an incredible amount of microfibers. Soon it was becoming clear that wastewater treatment plants didn’t filter out all synthetic fibers and the toxins that bind to them. As a result many small fishes and shellfish ingest them, including those sold for human consumption. In early 2015, Patagonia commissioned a study to see if their iconic fleece jackets were contributing to the situation and how. Graduate students at UC Santa Barbara found that during laundry just one fleece jacket could shed as many as 250,000 synthetic fibers. When multiplied by the estimated number of people worldwide laundering 100,000 Patagonia jackets annually, the resulting fibers in waterways was equivalent to the plastic in nearly 12,00 plastic grocery bags.

Cooling off without heating up the planet more! 

Temperatures keep rising – May was the hottest May on record, dating back to 1880. But using energy to cool off only makes the problem worse. AC uses 25% of all electricity in the US. A ceiling fan use less that 1% of the electricity that central AC does. Try these 12 great ideas, too:

Cool off at the beach, but take the bus! 

Once again Sonoma County Transit is running Rte. 29 along the coast on weekends from July 9th for six weekends. Save money and gas, reduce CO2 emissions, and help slow global warming. View the schedule at or call 800-345-7433 to have one mailed to you. It’s designed so you can hike the 4.5 mile Kortum Trail, if you wish, or spend time along the Coast or at Doran Beach.