NY Gov. Cuomo proposes ban on single use styrofoam


New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today proposed a new law the prohibiting distribution and use of expanded polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, single-use food containers. The proposal also bans the sale of expanded polystyrene packaging materials known as packing peanuts. Additionally, the bill would authorize the State Department of Environmental Conservation to review and take action to limit or ban other packaging material upon a finding of environmental impact. This would be the strongest statewide Styrofoam ban in the United States and would go into effect by January 1, 2022.

"Styrofoam is one of the most common pollutants and a public health hazard that impacts humans and the environment alike," Governor Cuomo said. "From take-out containers to packing peanuts, this material is everywhere and it will continue to pollute our waters and harm our wildlife for generations to come if we do not act. With this proposal, we can build on our nation-leading initiatives to protect the environment and move New York another step closer to a greener, more sustainable future."

The new legislation will:

  • Ban the distribution and use of expanded polystyrene foam containers used for prepared foods or beverages served by food service establishments, including restaurants, caterers, food trucks, retail food stores, delis and grocery stores.
  • Ban the sale of polystyrene loose fill packaging, commonly known as packing peanuts.
  • Authorize the State Department of Environmental Conservation to take additional action to limit or ban other packaging material upon a finding of environmental impact.

The ban exempts prepackaged food sealed prior to receipt at a restaurant or food service establishment, as well as packaging for uncooked or raw meat, fish or eggs.

The proposal specifies that the new law will take effect no later than Jan. 1, 2022.  Mainstream Green urges everyone to not wait until a law passes to stop accepting Take out food, or restaurant service presented in Styrofoam.  Bring your own containers and ask the establishment to put your food directly in it.

Disposable polystyrene plastic food containers are widespread pollutantsExpanded polystyrene foam is one of the top ten contributors to environmental litter. The EPA estimates that the U.S. produces more than 3 million tons of polystyrene, which are non-biodegradable. These containers often break down overtime and enter waterways and wildlife areas as microplastics, where they pollute water sources and harm wildlife that ingest them. Human exposure to styrene, the primary chemical in polystyrene foam, is primarily through inhalation in the manufacturing sector. The National Toxicology Program has determined styrene is "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen." Small amounts of styrene can also be transferred to food from styrene-based packaging materials.

Give a kid you love a t-shirt, cleaner air, and a planet to keep living on!

Tee shirt reminds people to turn off their cars instead of wasting gas by idling

Love a kid & love your planet, at the same time, with #TURNitOFF anti-idling t-shirt!

Don't Idle Away Our Atmosphere!  Did you know: We waste 3.8 million gallons of fuel EVERY DAY in America, by letting our cars run while they are stationary? Burning 1 gallon of gasoline in a car engine produces 18.07 lbs of CO2.  Carbon traps heat in earth’s atmosphere.  If we avoid 1% of gallons used idling, we’d prevent release of 390 tons of carbon daily, with no drastic change to lifestyle.

Purchase one of these t- shirts and spread the message about idling!  When your car is in P, #TURNitOFF!

Available in Children's Small, Medium, Large and XL. These shirt are 100% cotton and Made In America! Proceeds go to Mainstream Green, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit. Order now using this form, and we will send you an invoice you can pay online or with a check via US mail. All shirts are shipped via Priority Mail fixed rate boxes.

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Look what Mainstream Green’s #PlasticFreeFridays Facebook Group Led To!

Marcellus biology teacher makes news with Boomerang Bags

When Marcellus High School chemistry teacher Ellen Spencer started following Mainstream Green's  "#Plastic Free Fridays" group on Facebook, "a group dedicated to helping its followers find ways to use less plastic, she had no idea she would start a movement in her town, "  and be the subject of this Syracuse . com story.  We congratulate Ellen Spencer on her initiative, creativity, persistence and we congratulate the Town of Marcellus NY for having such a great teacher,  and a community that pitches in to help the planet.

Read the news story here: https://www.syracuse.com/news/2018/04/marcellus_school_district_community_ditches_plastic_bags.html

Marcellus NY teacher Ellen Spencer started a Boomerang Bag program in her town

Marcellus NY chemistry teacher, Ellen Spencer, started a Boomerang Bags program in her town.

Mainstream Green President’s Commentary Published in Post Standard

Sustainability and Climate Must Be Part of Economic Development Planning

Picture of Dana Johnston, Mainstream Green president, at podium

#TrammelCrow recently proposed building the #secondlargestwarehouse in the world in the #OnondagaCounty, NY Town of Clay. The project is being developed for an unnamed client (guess who... worlds biggest online retailer maybe?)  Dana Johnston wrote the following Commentary, which was published in syracuse.com and the Post Standard.

The Climate Crisis is the single biggest threat to human and animal life on this planet, yet today there is no formal Sustainable Development plan in place for Onondaga County, that takes into account the most current scientific data and sets a path towards safe economic growth.

Unfortunately, without guidance of such a Sustainable Development plan, the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency and the Town of Clay planning board have been operating at a disadvantage during the approval process regarding the proposed development of the world’s second largest warehouse.

While the advantages of increased economic activity alone are valuable, without adequate consideration of climate impact of this project, both locally and globally,  neither OCIDA nor the Clay Planning Board could  have exercised full due diligence when they quickly agreed to give the developers an incentive bundle that includes a sales tax exemption estimated at $20 million, a $1.7 million exemption from the state mortgage recording tax , and finally, a 15-year property tax discount worth $49.1 million.

In changing the zoning and purpose of that land, the county and the town are trading an area that absorbs and sequesters carbon, and rain, for one that increases and expels greenhouse gases and creates significant rain runoff.

Even though this tradeoff affects more than just Onondaga County, at least the local impact could have been evaluated. Air pollutants, voluminous rain runoff due to massive amounts of hard surfaces, and contamination of  watersheds will definitely increase during construction and in the years immediately following, as the 25 tractor trailers per hour and thousands of employees’ internal combustion vehicles steadily release carbon,  and greenhouse gases into our atmosphere.

During the 15 years of property tax breaks for this project, the world (and our county) must make a near total transition from internal combustion vehicles to electric or fuel cell vehicles and electric heat pumps instead of burning fossil fuels for heating.

Could the OCIDA and the Clay Planning Board have exercised greater due diligence if they had required that the project be designed with climate in mind? If they had, for example, required the project to meet some LEED standards or to be energy net neutral?

Just imagine if we’d been shown drawings for solar panels, stretching across the acres of warehouse rooftop, and perhaps viewed ideas for the creation of  micro-grid. We also might have seen an area for geothermal wells or reservoirs, for a building that will encompass nearly 3.8 million square feet and will need heating and cooling.

We might have seen plans for charging stations or hydrogen fuel cell refill stations for 21st century cars, trucks, snowplows and fork lifts.

We might have been shown green roofs  along with site development plans with rain collection and water storage areas. We know that hard paved and built areas cause rain runoff to gain speed and  carry solids along to contaminate clean water areas, and we know that simply building culverts and more sewers is not the answer.  We know that only well designed buffer areas with trees and other vegetation can sufficiently slow down and process such tremendous amounts of water. Wouldn’t it have been beneficial for us to see if and where they are planning the buffer areas, and whether they are sufficient in capacity for their load?

Taxpayers are well within their rights to expect that, by approving tax benefits to a private developer, their representatives will not deprive them of a 21st Century opportunity for sustainable development. by saddling them with what could be a harmful, unsustainable 20th century private enterprise project AND lost tax revenue.

The unnamed future occupant and Trammell Crow Co., the developers of the enormous Clay warehouse, still have a chance to shape the project for posterity. I hope they step up to the plate with 21st Century technology and climate needs in mind, so we all will not be be stuck with a facility that is obsolete before it is built.

And I hope that our County Executive and legislature will assign top priority to adopting a data driven, scientifically sound Sustainable Development plan for the county to help us grow and prosper, while ensuring livability of our community and the planet.

Screen shot of online commentary by Mainstream Green President Dana Johnston

Mainstream Green Launches Reusable Shopping Bags for Food Pantries Program


One Food Pantry Director's Thoughts on Mainstream Green's program:

"With the availability of reusable bags you have given us, Mainstream Green empowers all of us to participate in NY State's ban on plastic and contribute to the global movement of community environmental health. With the bags we are enabled to educate and reinforce to our community the detriments of single use plastic bags while creating a user friendly option of moving their foods. We have struggled with moving all of University United Methodist Church efforts, activities and events into a more green methodology. Our largest barrier has been the cost of reusable bags and the elimination of plastic in our Food Pantry. You have eliminated this barrier. We have created a distribution plan and incentives to ensure the bags are brought back each month. We strive to have all folk who access our Food Pantry utilizing their new bags in the New Year and well on their way to new habits that create a healthier city for us all." --  Galyn Murphy-Stanley, University United Methodist Church Food Pantry, Syracuse NY

Reusable shopping bags given to Onondaga County food pantry by Mainstream Green

Mainstream Green distributed 3500 reusable bags to patrons of food pantries in Onondaga County NY
Plastic bags flyaway litter

720,000 plastic bags used every hour in USA

US consumers throw away 100 billion bags each year

That's like dumping out 12 million barrels of oil every year

3500 reusable bags will replace more than 182,000 plastic bags in one year


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Syracuse's NE Community Center Food Pantry received reusable bags from Mainstream Green
Patrons of Syracuse's Grace Church Food Pantry received reusable bags from Mainstream Green

Spooked by Waste? Repurpose your Pumpkins!

Halloween pumpkin in costume with big pumpkin next to her

Of the nearly 2 billion pounds of pumpkin grown in the United States in 2014, some 1.3 billion pounds were thrown into solid waste trash instead of being eaten or composted, according to the US Department of Energy.
Mainstream Green’s got resourceful ideas about what you can to do with your unpainted pumpkins after Halloween: Cook ‘em, Compost ‘em, or throw into woodsy areas for wildlife to consume. Download a pdf of recipes here!

Insurer Chubb announces plan to cut coverage of coal production + usage in power plants


On July 1, 2019, Zurich based Chubb Limited (NYSE: CB), the self-described "world's largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company," announced that it has adopted a new policy concerning coal-related underwriting and investment. With the new policy, the company will no longer underwrite the construction and operation of new coal-fired plants or new risks for companies that generate more than 30% of their revenues from coal mining or energy production from coal. Insurance coverage for existing coal-plant risks that exceed this threshold will be phased out by 2022, and for utilities beginning in 2022.  In addition, Chubb will not make new debt or equity investments in companies that generate more than 30% of revenues from thermal coal mining or energy production from coal.

Quoted in a press release, Evan G. Greenberg, Chairman and CEO of Chubb said that the company recognizes the risks of climate change and "the impact of human activity on our planet"  and that "Making the transition to a low-carbon economy involves planning and action by policymakers, investors, businesses and citizens alike.

"The policy we are implementing today reflects Chubb's commitment to do our part as a steward of the Earth," he commented.

Because Chubb is the self-described "leading crop insurer in the U.S. with a $2.3 billion agriculture insurance business and an agribusiness serving the commercial P&C needs of farmers and ranchers," the company is clearly facing an extraordinary amount of loss claims from farmers and ranchers besieged by the record breaking floods of 2019.

Chubb's 2018 Annual Report disclosed that the company views Climate Change as an existential threat. The Chairman's remarks reveal that while last year's disasters were of less magnitude than the record–setting levels of 2017, it nonetheless was a major year for Natural Catastrophe claims, with insured losses around $80 billion, possibly the fourth highest in 50 years.

"Chubb's decision to implement this new coal policy clearly reflects the company's perception that phasing out coal production and usage is in their long term self interest, which now seems to be aligned with that of the planet," commented Dana Johnston, President of the grass-roots environmental nonprofit, Mainstream Green. "I am delighted that Chubb has taken this meaningful step. Hopefully other companies will follow suit, without delay. We have precious little time to reverse this path to planet disaster!"

Chubb's CEO, Mr. Greenberg, also expressed the opinion that "government social policies ...insulate people and society from the true costs of their decisions." He makes the point that when people choose to live in more urban than rural areas, or near water or wilderness, they put themselves at greater risk of loss to natural catastrophes. The company plans to make sure that insurance premiums increase commensurately with the risks to be covered.  "We must face the reality that there is a greater cost citizens must bear to remain protected. Insurers don’t have a printing press," he wrote.

To view the policy and other information about Chubb's commitment to the environment, click here.

Read This Before Plant Shopping This Weekend!

This NYTimes article reports climate change is causing a northward shift of warmer weather, changing what plants thrive where as hardiness zones heat up. We hope you are going to plant more perennials, trees or shrubs, to help cool the planet, but before you plant, figure out which ones will flourish in the coming years. Click or tap on the image to access the article, and see for yourself, the warming trend on the map, which shows information furnished by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NYTimes article reports climate change causing northward shift of warmer weather, changing what plants thrive as hardiness zones heat up