Act now to make a dent in single-use plastics pollution
Our national government has blatantly turned its back on and even ridiculed all environmental concerns. But for some issues we can act locally until we stop this insanity via our national election votes. Single-use plastics pollution is one such issue. Single-use plastics, most notably bags and water bottles, are significantly damaging the world’s environment by overwhelming landfills and choking and poisoning oceans and streams.
Our current president’s administration recently derailed the establishment of a world-wide goal to eliminate single-use plastics. Amazingly, some US states actually have passed right-to-pollute-with-plastic legislation, barring local governments from acting. Other state and local governments have taken real action to reduce or eliminate the problem, including the banning of single-use plastic bags. Our state of Pennsylvania does not fall into either of these categories but a bundle of congressional bills labeled “Zero Waste PA” makes a half-hearted attempt at tackling this pollution. But will a 2-cents per bag fee reduce the thousands of plastic bags leaving our local Walmart, Giant, Wegmans and Weis Markets every day? And will even this weak effort make it through Pa.’s Republican congress?
We can immediately do more through personal and local government actions. Only use plastic bag for meats and produce, take reusable bags shopping or opt for paper bags at grocery store check-outs. Stop buying single-use plastic water bottles. Demand that our current out-for-the-votes local politicians take action to curb the plastic mess. Let’s get ahead of our shameful national government and out from under this wave of pollution.
Lack of abortion access is shameful
I meet lots of folks who identify as pro-choice in Centre County, but few who actually know what abortion access looks like (or doesn’t) in our region.
So what goes on around here? There’s the Pregnancy Resource Clinic in State College — an anti-abortion counseling center which celebrates “The Path of Life” while willfully ignoring what that path actually looks like for so many people. Then there’s Centre Volunteers in Medicine, which advertises PRC services to its clients but refused to do the same with the All Options information (all-options.org) I left at the desk. There’s Citizens Concerned for Human Life, a local pro-life group which ran a gauzy ad in the Gazette for Mother’s Day. These concerned citizens refuse to acknowledge that the majority of people who have abortions in the United States every year are already mothers — their insistence that motherhood and abortion are incompatible doesn’t square with facts or lived experiences.
If we believe that folks need dignified abortion access, then we should be ashamed not only of the total lack of access in our region, but of the widespread ways that abortion is stigmatized in our community. And we should be ashamed of our own ignorance and silences when it comes to speaking up, acting up, and stepping up to make sure that the care we ourselves may have been blessed to receive at some point in our lives is available for others. It’s called sisterhood. Brotherhood. Siblinghood. Or just good manners and morals.
Demand an end to poitical gerrymandering
We still need to push our Pa. legislators to get the message that voters want to end political gerrymandering by using instead an independent citizens redistricting commission for both Congress and state legislators. Ninety bipartisan co-sponsors have signed on to PA House Bills 22 and 23. Let’s be crystal clear about our goals: 1) no more gerrymandering, 2) remove politicians from choosing their voters, and 3) avoid the courts as an expensive, contentious remedy by creating a fail-safe that stays within the independent citizens redistricting commission. We don’t need appellate judicial districts which only create another gerrymandering opportunity for the party in power to rig the game. Depending on the poll, 68-75% of Pennsylvania voters want fair, transparent redistricting now. Voters have been calling for this reform since 1991. Urge your PA legislators to step up during this session to pass HB22 and HB23 in the State House, and to pass parallel legislation in the state Senate. Write or call your representative in their Harrisburg office today to demand that we get this done for the 2020 census.