Monthly Archives: October 2014

On the look-out

A message from Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste

GrrrrrCan you help us collect some intelligence this weekend? The plastics industry has deployed signature collectors to bus stops and shopping malls throughout the state in a cynical attempt to overturn California’s plastic bag ban. Early reports tell us that some are disseminating ill-informed, misleading, or downright false information about what the proposed referendum would actually do. We’re trying our best to keep tabs on their campaign mercenaries so we can keep them honest.

Here’s where you come in. Your job, should you choose to accept it, would be to gather intelligence when you encounter these paid-per-signature petitioners:

  • Take note of the name of the retail establishment (if any) where the gatherer is set up.
  • Please note the approximate location (city & street), as well as date & time.
  • What is their pitch? Is it truthful?
  • Don’t feel the need to engage/argue. Remember, they are just normal folks being paid to do a job.

This data will help us focus our time and resources where they will do the most good. We’re not afraid of a public vote – Californians will see through the Plastics Industry’s attempt to keep profiting from the billions of cheap plastic bags they dump into California every year. But if they get enough signatures, it would delay implementation of the ban for 18 months. That’s another 18 billion bags’ worth of pollution—and more than $200 million for the plastic bag makers.

You can help us put a stop to it right here, right now, by one of these routes:
Send an email to:
Text your report to 916-550-3910
Fill out this on-line form.

Thanks for your help!

Mark Murray

PSOMThanks to initial reports coming in over the weekend, we are starting to get a better idea of the scope of Plastics Industry’s signature gathering campaign. But the picture is not complete. We need every useful bit of data that we can get. So don’t forget to report where and when you’ve seen plastic bag signature gatherers in your town. Here are three easy options you can use:

1) report your findings on-line here, 2) or e-mail:, or 3) text us at: 916-550-3910.


Do my personal changes make a difference?

Beth's costumeBeth Terry, in her presentation at Green Sangha’s first Rethinking Plastics conference in 2010, identified eight reasons that our personal changes make a difference.  She posted a transcript of her talk here:  Eight Reasons Why Personal Changes Matter.

Do you still worry, though, that your individual actions won’t amount to enough?  Here’s what Paul Stern of the National Research Council says:  “The potential for reducing carbon emissions through behavioral change at the household level is sufficient to yield a major effect on national emissions if well-designed interventions are scaled up nationally” (in American Psychologist, May-June 2011, p. 304). 

Doing our calcsWe have exceptionally well-designed interventions already set up in the Bay Area.  In the East Bay, you can join Linda Currie in a five-session class on reducing your carbon footprint: In Marin, Tamra Peters has established a similar program that has already helped homeowners reduce their collective annual emissions by over 2 million pounds a year:

Don’t stop there, Linda says. Keep demanding climate action now, and vote for policies and politicians who will lead the way.  For updates on climate legislation, EPA regulation, and other actions, go to the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Action Center.

And remember that each one of us who takes personal action to preserve the climate, and who shares these actions in a patient and loving manner, sends ripples into the world well beyond our individual acts.

Cloudy lake - KLM

Riding the Climate Train

Coast to Coast for Climate Action

By Linda Currie, Event Manager, Green Sangha

Wearing a shirt of her own design, Linda Currie prepares to board the Climate Train in Emeryville.  Photo:  Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group

Wearing a shirt of her own design, Linda Currie prepares to board the Climate Train in Emeryville. Photo: Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group

On September 15, I boarded the People’s Climate Train in Emeryville, California, along with about 125 others, including Green Sangha member Trish Clifford. We were headed for the People’s Climate March in NYC on September 21, a monumental gathering of more than 400,000 citizens in advance of the United Nations Climate Summit. As we traversed the country, greeted by colorful sign-waving supporters in Reno, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Chicago, our numbers grew to more than 200. We rolled through beautiful mountain ranges, rivers and plains, sometimes having to stop for freight cars filled with coal or oil, reminders of our purpose.

The Climate Train was organized by local Buddhists and the Center for Biological Diversity as a less carbon-intensive way to bring engaged people from the west to the east coast, and to provide opportunities to prepare for the march ahead.

On the surface, we were a disconnected, motley crew, ranging from 18 to 80 years old, all colors and so many walks of life: indigenous peoples, nuns, ministers, teachers, students, social justice advocates, environmental leaders, union members, and business owners. Over the long hours we connected and talked with each other, participating in dozens of workshops on issues such as divestment, tar sands, non-violent direct action, faith leaders’ response to climate change, and rights of nature.

By the time we arrived at Penn Station in NYC, we had formed unexpected bonds and become allies, ready to march together to protect what we love, our planet. One of the Green Sangha principles says, “Throughout the universe, One Body revealed.” I felt this so deeply in my heart every day on this journey:  “Of course we love the planet.  It is us!”

View from aboveThe People’s Climate March in New York City was huge, colorful, diverse, completely peaceful. The sense of quiet power was palpable in the air. At 12:58 pm, silence rolled back from the front through the crowd like the jet stream, connecting us all in two minutes of quiet. At 1 pm, cell phones led a wave-like roar back through the rows of marchers:  a symbolic call to awakening.  The march continued for several miles, ending without aplomb with a large gathering of food and music. Then, people dispersed in every direction, going back to the places and lives they had come from, knowing that something important had just taken place.

When I first awakened to the climate crisis, I vowed to do everything in my power to make a difference. At that time, our children were young and my husband and I were both busy working parents. I had no idea how I could personally have an effect, but I let myself be guided. Green Sangha was one of the organizations I found that has guided and sustained me on my path, providing grounding for all my actions, from those early days until now. Getting on the People’s Climate Train and marching were just more natural and powerful steps I could take to do my part.

Editor’s note: Have you participated in a Low Carbon Diet group? This is an easy and fun way to make real, measurable, and lasting reductions in your carbon use. Groups are forming in Marin County, for five sessions of neighborly gatherings (meeting weekly or biweekly). Participating households have already reduced their carbon emissions by 2.2 million pounds per year.  More info here: Resilient Neighborhoods.

Coastal Clean-up Day rocks again

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Green Sangha leader Maeve Murphy. Sep 20, 2014.  Nine enthusiastic volunteers joined me for Coastal Cleanup Day at McNear’s Beach in San Rafael. Just the right number at this modest-sized site: though it gets regular attention from its ranger staff, they assured us there is always more trash to be found.

McNear’s is a popular city park and, as we did our work, late-summer barbecues were getting started, a wedding was being set up, and a wetsuited triathlete swam back and forth near the shore, carefully avoiding a paddleboard class. Plenty happening here today!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARangers Josh and Dan were on hand with lots of extra buckets and litter-pickers, pleased to have us there to help tackle the never-ending stream of trash that they report finds its way here from land and sea. Five of our volunteers brought their own buckets, gloves and reusable water bottles and several of them had walked or carpooled to the site. Hooray for mindfulness in action!

I had displayed the California Coastal Commission poster showing amounts of select items found last year, and our volunteers were impressed by the sheer numbers of plastic bottles collected (some 1.3 million!) and amused by other items (40 toilets!? A rubber chicken!?). I mentioned that the few cigarette butts they each might find would be added to the probably millions picked up around the world that day, and that each and every one would be counted. Other park users stopped and asked us what was going on and I was glad for the opportunity to let them know about Coastal Cleanup Day and the significance of what we were doing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMost interesting items? Probably the small plastic bag of what we think was marijuana, the parking ticket, the toy plastic turtle, and a shapeless, rusty chunk of metal that added a few pounds to our final count, 21 pounds of trash and 8 pounds of recyclables – not bad!

Putting the morning’s activity in our little corner of San Rafael into a statewide, nationwide, and worldwide context helped us feel connected to a movement – a big and broad one – helping to restore the beauty of our coastline and protect its wildlife, reconnecting to our mother Earth, and reminding us that what we all do really does matter.

After a record turn-out of over 80 volunteers in 2012 & 2013, Maeve and the Marin County site coordinators agreed last fall that McNear’s Beach could afford to give up some of its helpers to other sites around the county.  There will be room for a few more, though, next year at McNear’s, so mark your calendar:  Sat Sep 19th, 9 am to noon!

McNear's Beach