A look at changing the way we systematicly consume. Through learning and living earth friendly practices, together we can change the way we manage resources. My mission is to provide a lasting difference by changing habits that thoughtlessly destroy our planet.
I'm a Earth Policy promoter, supporting the concepts that humanity as a single entity is directly responsible for maintaining the suitability of our habitat. We must reduce or dependence on single use plastics while mitigating the existing damage our collective existence has burdened upon the planet.
My dream is to clean the Great Garbage Patches. We have the technology to be efficient and profitable in this endeavor. The time has come to move together in a responsible manner. I'm a graduate of Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colorado with a B.S. in Sustainable Infrastructure and Practices. My platform @Cuttheplastic is not just about waving a red flag and shouting loudly, it's about having a discussion on how to return to simple happiness, earth friendly practices and slowly begin to rehabilitate the damage that has already been done.
Welcome to the new world in which we live. Like some thriller thrown from our living room televisions to being in our actual living rooms, Covid 19 and the new world of life practices are upon us. For the last several weeks, I have been sewing and making masks for both front line workers and everyday people to be safe when in the community. You would be surprised to learn that I relearned how to use a sewing machine over a week time span.
First I want to send you to a video on how to wear my mask. Maybe you are a front line workers who received a donated mask, or maybe you purchased one from a local business or from me directly. First, thank you. The following linked video will show you how to properly wear your mask. Once you have watched this video on how to wear the mask you have, please feel free to come back and check out my page.
To learn how to make a mask in the “Olsen Medical Style” I am going to send you to Craft Passion for a template to print. They have some great techniques on their page for those who want to learn the step by step of sewing a mask.
What I want you to know is that making one mask at a time is not a good use of time and energy. The average mask of high quality will take 45 min to make one piece at a time. Mass producing masks can reduce the time 10-20 min per mask. To show you some of the tips and tricks I have figured out, I will send you to another video I made. This will also introduce you to the paracord modification so that you too can make a nice tie up mask instead of one with elastic.
Thank you, enjoy your mask if you got one. To order your mask for $15 plus shipping and handling, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Global Climate Change. These three words have a variety of meanings, depending on whom you ask. For many around the world, these three words are a hotbed of denial. As I’ve written in this past article The shocking evidence that Shell Oil knew it was causing global climate change all along, oil and gas companies have known about their own liability in causing GCC for decades. The exposure of this truth did not cause a global crisis of accountability.
When we examine the issues being faced along shorelines globally we see this issue being examined and in many cases, being tackled aggressively. Protecting global shorelines to mitigate the impacts of oceanic storms is growing more important. Ensuring natural environments like mangroves, sand bars, replanting and securing disappearing Coral reefs are all measures actively deployed. Unfortunately, even where these intentional measures are enacted, the global impacts are difficult to fight. Most of us want to make intentional changes to help solve this problem, but in reality underanding the HOW can be quite difficult. Unfortunately, according to most scientists we have a limited time – just 12 years; to change our consumption systems to ensure that life as we know it will continue to survive on the only planet we know of to survive on.
The answer is to changing our consumption systems is complex and multi layered. The most basic aspect is that our shift must come from several primary understandings. The first is that globalization of all consumer goods is a process that is unhealthy. Examples of this include the transport of disposable plastic food packaging and packaged water. Per case of bottled water, roughly 2.5 quarts of oil are burned in the manufacture and transport to the store! Items like plastic straws, silverware and food containers are made from extracted oil and gas products that are manufactured for single use, disposed in landfills and decompose into methane gas over hundreds of years. The quantites of ‘single use plastic’ disposed of daily is nearly imposible to calculate. In 2011 Be Straw Free was founded and soon determined that roughly 500 million straws are used daily in the United States. While this calculation may not be 100% accurate, it paints a real foundation for understanding that the majority of straws, forks, disposable beverage and food packaging are all made of oil and gas.
Creating cultural shifts in the consumption of these so called ‘disposable plastics’ is one of the most urgent actions we can take in our communities. Mandating that these type of items are made of plant based materials instead of oil based materials means that when they are disposed of they can be composted, or turned back into soil. The practice of recycling cannot effectively occur with these type of materials for two primary reasons. The first is contamination. In 2016, China changed the standards for acceptable contamination because in short, most cultures don’t examine the results of their waste effectively. Contamination when it comes to plastic packaging, is anything that is not plastic. Most commonly this will be food contamination like yogurt, peanut butter, whipped cream, grease or fats. Waste Management, a national waste hauler in the United States says that the Chineese standards are ‘Nearly Impossible’ to meet. Additionally the silverware, straws and plastic lids don’t process through the massive MRF (Municipal Recycling Facilities). I’ve talked about bit about these facilites in a previous post, It’s all about the MRF.
The point being, plastics recycling isn’t effective and as I’ve covered time and time again, the planet is loaded with plastic pollution. IT’s all oil and gas that’s polluting and killing our planet. By switching to permenant long term goods that can be recycled at the end of their lifespan, we reduce the need for expanded oil extraction that destroys our planet. Converting to plant based disposables is a process that must occur at cultural levels, where education and effective processing make these efforts effective.
In addition to reducing consumption, we must close the consumption loop in plastics that prevents it’s effective recycling. Additional efforts include promoting local busineses to swithing to compostable materials when their intended use is one time. Promote events that teach sustainable consumtion by doing things like having beverages made in 5 gallon jugs, carry water sourced from the tap, eat locally grown food, use mass transit or low carbon consuming transportation methods and help to formulate laws that design greater accountability on corporations who extract natural resources or produce goods that leave a negative foot print on the planet.
In Colorado, I spent the summer putting my money where my mouth is. I worked on and help put the ballot inniative then known as Prop 97 on the 2018 Colorado State Ballot as Inniative 112. This inniative would requrie that oil and gas wells have a safety zone buffering the industrial operations from habitated zones like neighborhoods, hospitals and schools. I believe the scientific evidece that fracking wells leak methane gas, that water is sacred, that produced water is poisoined permentatly and corporations don’t have a history of doing right by society as my piece on Shell Gasoline knowing they were causing global climate change over two decades ago. While I don’t have any children, I believe in leaving this world better than I found it. I have found and written on how much this is the responsiblity of each and every one of us. If you live in Colorado, I believe voting #YesOn112 is also part of that responsibility.
On August 6, Colorado Rising turned in 171,596 signatures to Secretary of State Wayne W. Williams (D) in support of Initiative 97. Colorado Rising members pictured include Joseph Salazar, Russell Mendell, Micah Walker Parkin, Lauren Petrie, Trisha Garcia-Nelson, Suzanne Spiegel, Anne Lee Foster, Razz Gormley, Julia Williams, and Dan Leftwich. [Source: Joseph Salazar’s FB page] Guest post by Bob Arrington, PE*
Initiative 97 would mandate that new oil and gas development, including fracking, be a minimum distance of 2,500 feet from occupied buildings, as well as public parks, public open space, irrigation canals, lakes, rivers, perennial or intermittent streams and any additional vulnerable areas designated by the state or a local government. Gov. John Hickenlooper recently said that this initiative could eliminate 90 percent of oil and gas activity in eastern Colorado and only slightly less than that in western Colorado. Initiative 97 is awaiting approval from Secretary of…
What do you do when it becomes illegal to be homeless or as many prefer – underhoused? What if they put people in jail for trying to survive harsh elements? How does criminalizing homelessness impact the rates of rape and sexual assault in the homeless community? These are some of the questions members of Occupy Denver have been asking residents and tourists along Downtown Denver’s 16th St Mall for over 6 years since Denver’s Unauthorized Camping Ordinance (May 23, 2012) was enacted as law.
This ordinance, which became a tactic of criminalizing disadvantaged humans who often street preform or carry signs requesting donations of assistance across the nation, are best known as Urban Camping bans. Denver is one of the city’s which have lead the way in pushing these ordinances in Colorado. In the University of Denver Sturm College of Law report, “Too High A Price 2: Move on to Where?”
In Denver, the price of homes continues to outstrip wage and job growth in the area. Throughout 2017, the price of houses grew at the 5th highest rate in the nation. In Denver, a typical home now requires a salary of more than $81,000 a year. Correspondingly, Denver rental prices are also increasing. In 2017, rental prices rose over 15%. The price of renting a one-bedroom apartment climbed to $1,410 per month, which is roughly 80% of a minimum wage worker’s monthly income. Simultaneously, homelessness did, and continues to, dramatically increase. (Page 4, Too High A Price 2: Move on to Where?)
The picture this report paints in Colorado is a bleak one. In order to bring awareness to the issue, this autonomous group of activists that come out of Occupy Denver and run a Facebook page “Boycott the Urban Camping Ban” calls for a direct repeal of the laws in Denver which criminalize and jail offenders for not being able to afford to spend 80% of their incomes monthly for a roof over their head. In order to draw attention to these laws, community members provide a family meal where all are welcome and clothing is available for those in need.
This sounds like a logical role for a community of humans to fill. People who don’t have beds don’t have kitchens to cook food. Here’s where this takes a twist, because this group of people are not a church, a 501c, or any documented entity – instead they are a Autonomous group holding direct actions – boycotting businesses, educating consumers and tourists, and providing meals for those in need.
In Denver there are many groups that provide food, – like brown bag lunches with a water bottle, plastic sandwich bags, and foil or plastic wrappers leftover from the food inside. Maybe a community effort to provide meals uses warming trays full of food. Generally there are still plastic silverware and Styrofoam cups or plates. Even where paper or other forms of food service are provided – in most settings, it’s disposable. As you already know, disposable is destruction. And this is what makes this community unique. These community meals, served on the 16th St. Mall in Denver, Colorado – are done with a Zero Waste Model in mind.
Meals are prepared in home kitchens. Food preparation varies based on the type of meal being offered. Stainless steel hotel pans, crock pots, Pyrex baking dishes and rice cookers can often be seen lining the streets or stacked on tables. The whole operation pops up in minutes. Before people know it there are five gallon jugs of coffee or water, home cooked meals, day old breads and rescue fruits, vegetables or salads for all who come. This can mean up to 150 people a meal – where all the work is done by compassionate volunteers who give their time to others, because it’s the right thing to do.
Organizing these activities in the community are quite simple. Picking a date, time and location to provide for others where they exist in the community should be quite easy. One key is repetition, both in duties for volunteers and for when/where the action will take place. For many, combining the resources and finding ways to acquire the materials to do pop up programs will be a more challenging task. Additionally, many communities have ‘laws’ against such activities like handing out meals, setting up tables or sitting in public spaces without having funding to pay for a place to sleep. This may cause conflict to arise between ‘police’ who’s job it is to protect property and the ‘rights of businesses’ to profiteer over the rights of humans to survive and receive aid.
The key for those environmentally minded, is how to provide meals without creating massive quantities of waste. The members of Occupy Denver have chosen to create accountability by using all sustainable dishware for those coming every week. Instead of water bottles, 5 gallon jugs are available. Plates and silverware were aired at local thrift stores or by donation. Community members use dishwashers to ease the burden of washing dishes and everybody takes a little to spread out the work. This is also how meals arrive, each week.
For those receiving meals, eating in real plates makes for a nice change. For the community, it just makes good sense and it teaches everybody to be a bit more considerate of the planet. There are other advantages also. From building up community, talking to people and learning their real struggles, even cleaning the dishes at the end of the day, there are many reasons to do the next right thing and give time to those who have less than ourselves. To learn more about homelessness and laws read how laws against homelessness increase the struggle to survive.
It’s the beginning of summer in America and that means it’s festival season. Festivals are great ways to get members of the community out of their homes, into common spaces where mass quantities of food and beverages are made available for purchase at inflated prices and music fills the air so that people don’t mind so much. Underneath the pretty layers of Sun and Fun for the consumers are teams of laborers who’s responsibility is to ensure that the waste disappears from sight so that event goers have a wonderful time without the hassles of dealing with real world issues for a few hours.
In Denver, Colorado; the topic of trash became big news in 2017 when the expectations city planners envision when an event is held did not align with the specific permit code requirements. The original ‘420 Organizer’ Miguel Ortiz lost his permit battles and received a 3 year ban from getting permits in the city. The major event that has drawn out this conversation about permit holder responsibility. April 20th celebrations of Cannabis that occur in Denver – the first state in the US to authorize consumption of ‘Marijuana’ since the US created a global effort of prohibition in the 1900’s. Local organizers and permit holders who managed this event for years- have not had effective solutions for waste management and in 2017 had the authority to hold this permit removed. The 2018 event proved to be just as ineffective even though corporations took over the permit and responsibilities.
Complaints of trash in recycling systems are highlighting the issues specific to not having a standard of clear standards for recycling in the US. Since China’s 2017 ban on plastics that aren’t 99.5% pure, this issue is becoming more prevalent in the local conversations. Many communities have single stream recycling systems that are contaminated with materials that aren’t actually recyclable, a process called “Wishful Recycling“. This issue is why many events struggle to even attempt any form of recycling at music festivals.
What is the solution to solving this issue? There are several types of ideas that are presented. One of the most successful types of ideas is for concertgoers to get a single cup to use on arrival.
FloydFest hands a Klean Kanteen–conceived stainless steel pint glass to each ticket holder when they enter the festival, a move that nixes 100,000-plus cups or bottles that would’ve been used in their stead. Lollapalooza encourages attendees to bring their own bottles, and a whopping 1,136,313 of them were filled over the course of the festival’s 2016 run. (MTV,2017)
This type of model reduces the quantity of plastics used by the tens of thousands. We need to establish an understanding that one cup per person for the event is viable, logical and not a violation of health codes. Through this effort alone, massive amounts of single use plastics can be eliminated. Other efforts festival planners have attempted is single stream recycling, composting and landfill stations that clearly identify what products go where. In combination, some events are moving from plastic to biodegradable plant based beverage containers, providing water refill stations and eliminating straws from being used.
One problem that organizers face is that even among waste management companies there aren’t unified standards. Trash haulers like Waste Management and Allied Waste are still struggling to develop standard offerings for events and festivals as well as getting people to be effective at home. As these companies catch up to having standard offerings to educate people how to manage waste materials, they are providing single stream trash hauling from event sites. Recycling is generally not an option and sorting the waste after the event is not part of these services, sending most of the materials directly into the landfill.
Solutions for these issues must begin months before the events. To make public festivals sustainable events, partnerships between organizers, performers and corporations must be formed. Efforts to promote shifts in practices have to be promoted through both social media and direct communications to event goers at the time of ticket purchase. In addition educational signage at ticketing/entrance gates, at vending locations and at waste disposal sites are required. Provisions to have water refill stations are much less profitable than selling 12 oz bottles at $2 or more, but the bring real reductions in environmental impacts. As discussed in our earlier post, “I drink bottled water and recycle my bottles, isn’t that good enough?” , each case of plastic water uses an average of 2.25 quarts of oil just to manufacture and distribute.
These solutions are not always easy to implement either. In addition to acquiring equipment to meet the needs of thousands or tens of thousands of event goers, education of both attendees and security personnel is also key. Ensuring that all participants are aware of these efforts is also a real challenge. One advantage for many festival organizers is that participants tend to be environmentally contentious. This will be an advantage in helping Americans in shifting the conversation and practices of consumption.
Hopefully in the years to come, this will also shift the way we consume, helping Americans be more responsible in how we use the resources of the planet.
In the meantime, you can help. Write to local organizers requesting water refill stations, that permission to bring water bottles into venues and encouraging them to eliminate wasteful practices. Encouraging events to allow for multi use beverage containers, be it beer or water, changes the quantity of consumption at any event immediately. Most importantly, either by joining the event teams or by direct communication, stay actively involved in the discussion so that you will reflect the change you want to see in the world!
Cut The Plastic Environmental Mitigation Solutions – Colorado / Fiji / Samoa Plastic Pollution information to change your life Solutions to change the world
Plastics and our planet Urgent action is required by all consumers to reverse the course of destruction
by Brian Loma – Founder Cut The Plastic EMS
If you’re reading this either in it’s original English, or translated into your local language, you have consumed, or purchased, plastic at some time in your life. Plastic was used to store the ink this is flyer is printed on. Plastics have, for better or worse, changed the way humans consume and have allowed for major improvements in advancements for all of humanity. Unfortunately, as humans continue to increase the quantities of plastic that we use year after year, the methods and amount of plastic that is recycled or used again to make new things does not keep up with the demand for plastic products.
The role of Cut The Plastic EMS is to bring a closed loop consumption process to end users, reducing plastic pollution into the environment. By using modern technology to reprocess plastics on the very islands around the world where plastic is burned into the atmosphere or directly enters the ocean. Instead, we can develop enhanced infrastructure to eliminate dependencies on single use water while creating jobs, and enabling villages to have sufficient water for drinking and crops. By providing these resources, we close the gap in consumption, impacting health, poverty and long term impacts of poisoning by plastic. Simply put, we use the post consumer plastic to improve the lives of people who don’t have the means to get rid of the waste. On islands, like most places in the world there is no extended manufacturers responsibility. In the United State we call them Deposits and they are only available in 10 of 50 states. Paying to have the plastics removed by boat from one island to the next in reverse order is currently not an effectively practiced idea as it can be where things like glass bottling exists. By incorporating a multi level community focused approach we have begun plans for providing long term solutions through strategic partnerships in Fiji, Samoa and beyond.
Closing holes in the consumption process to prevent environmental pollution is a social responsibility.
Microplastic, considered less than 3 mm in size, is already contaminating most of the world’s oceans, great lakes and many of the worlds water infrastructure. The plastics are found in soaps, sanitizer, shed from clothing and come from larger pieces of plastic as they deteriorate in the environment. Plastic now contaminates all levels of ocean life, beer in Milwaukee via the Great Lakes, and Salt around the world. Most microplastic comes from large plastic that breaks down into smaller pieces. These pieces attract chemical pollutants to their surface. The pollutants are then transferred up the food chain as the plastic is eaten and bio-accumulates up the food chain. To read more about plastic pollution and the environment read my piece : The Midway Atoll, an example of Plastics Destructive Power
Solving plastic pollution requires local clean, potable drinking water
Since Princess Diana first call for united change to impact the needs of water and food for those in Africa in the 1980’s, the urgency to ensure clean water access for all around the globe continues to grow. Unfortunately, so does the planets dependence on plastic single use water. Each case of bottled water consumes approximately 2.25 quarts of oil – burned into the atmosphere, just to manufacture and deliver it for use in the United States. If you drink a case of bottled water a week, that is ONE BARREL of oil burned into the atmosphere per year – just to drink water.
Global climate change is about increases in frequency and intensity of storms or weather patterns. They are occurring because of the quantities of carbon we burn into the atmosphere, for things like plastic bottled water. This is having long term impacts on island nations around the world. In Puerto Rico, like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina; access to clean water is an issue more than 6 months into the recovery relief. It is for these reasons that communities throughout the world need to become self sufficient in ensuring that they have adequate access to clean water. Unfortunately, many in these far reaching places of the world, also buy and drink plastic water. In these places most people don’t earn two dollars (US) per hour, a version of poverty is rampant. In these places the plastic is burned into the atmosphere or ends up in the ocean.
Recycling old plastic into new water collection systems.
In order to change this culture and to shift island villages into places where clean water brings greater economic freedom Cut The Plastic Environmental Mitigation Solutions.llc is designing a micro recycling factory to take to island overseas, as well as to encourage changes here in the States. Previous articles like Issues Island Nations face with Modern Consumption Practices look at some of the issues I’ve already examined by living in the South Pacific. Based on these experiences I am on a mission to transform the post-consumer or ‘waste’ plastics into a clean water infrastructure. By combing a variety of existing technologies like spooling, 3D printing, shredding and injection molding we can take old plastic and make new items out of it. To learn more about plastic recycling and the processes we’re incorporating into our project be sure to check out Precious Plastic. In addition to the shared global vision they bring, we are incorporating additional technologies and practices observed while researching life on islands south of the Equator.
This projects long term goals are: to reduce or eliminate dependencies on imported water supplies and single use plastics, crate jobs through the development of new recycling infrastructures and to close gaps in plastic consumption by utilizing manufacturing as the method to export post consumer plastics off the islands they are shipped to. Additionally we’re hoping to improve the world around us, sparking the conversation around how we consume and what our social responsibilities are. We’re already engaging in the conversation and teaching people around the world to use less plastic and to be smarter in how they dispose of it.
Building a better future together
The next stage is rolling out the design and fundraising campaign. Later this summer we will be rolling out several campaigns both here in Denver and across the globe. Our effort is to design and manufacture portable wind and solar powered recycling facilities here in Denver utilizing ideas I gathered from a project in Swains Island that processes green bananas into flour using a shipping container factory and later found similar ideas in the Precious Plastic global community. At the same time launching several partnerships through sponsored beach cleanups, teaching recycling practices and developing new locations where plastic materials will be sorted and stored, awaiting the micro factory arrival. Our campaign will be teaching proper recycling techniques, which include eliminating consumption through responsible practices. The goal is to have facilities destined for the South Pacific Ocean and the island nations of Fiji and Samoa. We’re currently working with ministry and community leaders in both countries to approve initial target locations and to coordinate further education and mitigation projects.
The entirety of these projects will be funded starting with social resource funding and targeting strategic partnerships with corporations that should be financially liable for the mitigation of the materials they sell that pollute our planet. There are existing Social Responsibility entities whose coordinated relationships which will be announced also.
China has set up purity standards for plastic recycling, most of America is not prepared. Some ideas to move the topic into mainstream mindsets.
Have you ever purchased a car before? Was the interior full of dirt, food crumbs and the debris of life from the previous owner? How about your apartment or home? Was the outside or floors covered in mud? The answer is likely, “No”. When we buy cars, clothes, food or whatever – there is a general expectation that the item we purchase will be in good condition free of excess debris or dirt. When most people are presented the same idea regarding the plastic and paper packages of waste from their food purchases, for some reason the idea doesn’t correlate. However, this is a very real and basic reason that China set stringent conditions for contaminants in the plastic and other recycling that we create for processing overseas.
Reporting on a statement made to the World Trade Orginization in 2017 China, Waste 360 reported that US plastics are to dirty for use.
“To protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health, we urgently adjust the imported solid wastes list, and forbid the import of solid wastes that are highly polluted. Protection of human health or safety; Protection of animal or plant life or health; Protection of the environment“
These changes are causing the waste and recycling industries to look internally at the processes need to re imprint the culture. in order to create a cultural shift in our understanding. For now, the reality is that some states are telling consumers, this is garbage and you cannot put it in the recycling indicating that the inefficiency of our current system. In this January 2017 USA today article one single steam recycling faculty operator describes the problem-
“…all day every day there are plastic shopping bags (recyclable at a grocery store but not from a household), chunks of Styrofoam, diapers, syringes, food-contaminated containers … a nearly endless litany of things that residents throw into their curbside recycling carts figuring they are or ought to be recyclable.”
National waste management companies (USA) like Waste Management, Allied Waste as well as government and non government entities throughout the world are struggling with this problem as our populations continue to grow.
The problem in the US stems from the way beverage companies who oppose bottle bills or programs that ‘pay people to recycle’. According to the Container Recycling Institute, between 1989 and 1994, 14 billion was spent by the beverage industry to fight these laws. This battle, fought by the beverage industry to deflect responsibility for the packaging materials they push into the consumption stream. The fact that only 1/5 of the United States has a system of returning beverage containers in a deposit program says a lot about our basic cultural practices in considering the waste we generate.
In most industries, just like in recycling, the are basic standards. Those who are in the industry, including the scrap metal collectors who pick up appliances and metals off the roadsides and trash piles; understand that the “cleaner” the metals are, the more valuable they are. In my post, “Recycling household items- the fan, is it really worth it” I cover more on separating metals for increased value. The cleanliness standards for plastic being set by recycling giant China, are too stringent to meet our cumulative cultural understanding. This means that when bales of recycling arrive in China, they can be returned to the US for being to dirty.
In the United States there is not a standardized national set of guidelines that are being taught as the proper process to organize and dispose of the ‘ things of life’. Talking about our how we manage or process the ‘trash’ isn’t an exciting topic for most people. This problem is one that organizations large and small alike struggle with. How do I process this packaging so that its ready for the next step, and engage in the conversation so that company or community wide, people are working within the same standards. Considering that for most people around the world, this isn’t a conversation that has ever occurred. The interaction between our consumption and its processing is currently, just beginning. Because of these standards, as well as other struggles in ‘wishful recycling’ practices; Waste Management is among the entities driving the conversation. ‘Wishful recycling’ is putting things in the recycling that cannot actually be recycled via single stream. These include plastic bags, batteries, dirty plastic, Styrofoam (by community) and soiled food packages. Check out the video and hey, let me know your thoughts.
Denver, Colorado is a booming community located on the east side of the Rocky Mountain foothills. Called the Mile High City, in 2018 there are few places you can travel in the city for one mile and not see the impacts of homelessness in the city. Denver has a booming economy supported by a growing mass transit system and an international airport, the economy has been boosted by legalized cannabis reforms. With all this in mind, Denver has, like many parts of the United States, experienced unsustainable spikes in homelessness issues. Growing at a pace to keep up with the needs of the community has been a challenge that elected officials have been slow to find the backbone to show serious intent to create lasting solutions. Denver businesses are a major part of this sluggishness.
In a traditionally corporate-centric move, Downtown Denver businesses through a local lobbyist group the Downtown Denver Partnership and it’s leader Tammy Door; moved to solidify their profits by choosing to ignore the needs of the laborers that support them. In 2012, Denver City Council passed the ‘Urban Camping Ban’ an ordinance that made it illegal to ‘camp’ or be homeless in the City and County of Denver. At the time, it was suggested that Denver was failing in it’s 2005 commitments to eliminate homelessness. During planning meetings, the Denver Westord reported in 2012 that commentators were very clear that Denver was making laws without proving effective solutions. “Even if the city doubled its current shelter capacity, it would still not reach the necessary number, says Bennie Milliner, new executive director of Denver’s Road Home.” (Denver Westword, 2012)
Six years after the creation of Urban Camping Ban, activists continue to come out against this law and to promote intentional solutions. Since the creation of the Urban Camping Ban, efforts by Denver Homeless Outloud, other activist groups and state representatives like Joe Salazar have pushed for the Homeless Bill of Rights – a bill designed to protect human dignity regardless of access to housing. While this Bill has not passed committee for 3 years, the fact that these topics continue to be pressed by government representatives is a key sign that greater solutions continue to be sought after.
“What has been proven, that making laws against human survival, are inhumane and ineffective. “City officials claim that they do not criminalize homelessness, but these statistics validate that they do. In 2017 alone, 4,647 people violating the camping ban were contacted by police. Make no mistake: even if a person is not arrested, ticketed or fined under this law, the very act of being contacted by law enforcement, asked to move along, or searched because of their unsheltered status amounts to a criminalization of that status. These individuals have all been told that they are committing a crime, by surviving. Sleeping with covers is essential to keeping proper body protection; criminalizing the ability to cover yourself is a threat to one’s life. Forcing people to move along results in the constant disruption of sleep and requires people to relocate to oftentimes hidden and unsafe locations. These police contacts are not only unnecessary, they compound the condition of homelessness, be it by the negative health effects, losing one’s personal documents or identification in the ensuing disruption, or resulting in a criminal record for merely surviving. 2016 saw a 500% increase in enforcement of the survival ban [urban camping ban], and 2017 numbers remain just as high. This is kind of response to a human health epidemic must be repealed for sanity’s sake of survival.” (Denver Westword, 2017)
“Many cities aggressively target homeless residents for panhandling and for trespassing. Fewer than half of the cities surveyed have restrictions on begging or panhandling, yet Denver arrested nearly 300 homeless individuals in 2014 for panhandling. Between 2013 and 2014, Denver issued over 2,000 trespass citations to homeless individuals. This represents more than half of all trespass citations in the city even though homeless residents are only 0.05% of the population.”
Laws against homelessness don’t work, they enhance the issue by pushing decriminalization instead of interactive support systems. These laws, focused on persecuting people, are often presented and passed through pressure of lobby groups and campaign partnerships of local legislatures. This is a common practice in the United States. Lobby groups commonly write and push laws they design. In a post I wrote back in 2015 on Microbead Legislation, I showed how microplastic manufacturers helped to write those laws.
As a plan of action, it’s important that we take action directly to prevent laws against homelessness to be written in our community. Providing effective integrated solutions within our communities is not only more humane, it eliminates the need for such laws. Business lobby groups indicate that the sight of homelessness is a blight, that it negatively impacts their abilities to be profitable. They often do and say this while missing on the fact that within their own staff, most Millions of Americans are one paycheck away from homelessness.
So what do we do? Between my job, feeding my family and paying my taxes – it’s hard enough! Here are 3 places to start.
1) Stay involved in the activities of your local government. Speaking out against laws that negatively impact homelessness can be a push to –
2) Support and volunteer with organizations that provide solutions. Rising rents, underemployment and medical conditions are top reasons why homelessness exists. Giving time and energy to help others has many rewards, most importantly you make a difference in people’s lives.
3) Open up space in your home. Using a toilet in peace, taking a shower and having a good nights sleep are things most readers will take for granted. Providing these to another human being is a humbling, life changing experience. Through personal relationships and volunteering at your church or community centers it’s easy to meet and get to know a person seeking to keep their head above water. Once the fear is gone, the freedom of helping others directly will change your life.
Homelessness isn’t always a choice, the focus of capitalistic values on property can often make it difficult to achieve such standards. However, by working together we can achieve a standard where people don’t have to struggle for survival and fear arrest for being forced to sleep on the street.
I’m really into the idea that keeping Fiji water in Fiji is good for the planet. One thing this article doesn’t cover that I found in my experiences which I highlight in this post, Climate Change, Plastics and social responsibility, more lessons from my trip to Fiji, Fijians are also buying Fiji water out of pride, and in many cases – burning the plastic into the atmosphere. Creating long term solutions to water issues in remote islands, including preparing for changes due to climate shifts and increasing risks of violent storms – calls for immediate actions.
The island nation of Fiji is one of our world’s few remarkable utopias where life seems to revolve around the sand and the surf. With its alluring flora, charming fauna, and its vast expanse of translucent blue waters, Fiji seems like the perfect getaway. Yet the islands are being exploited beyond belief for one of the globe’s most precious resources: water. When the FIJI Water company began bottling the naturally pure water from the islands in 1996, the integrity of the nation of Fiji was tarnished. FIJI Water began shipping water from the islands to their customers in the developed world a year later and the island nation of Fiji suffered. The BBC published a study in 2008 that showed that a third of Fijians lack access to clean drinking water while FIJI Water shipped in excess of 30 milliongallons of fresh water from the thirsting island nation to refined…