LAWRENCE ELECTRIC VEHICLE SHOWCASE – 4TH ANNUAL
Sunday, 2 October 2022, 10:00am-2:00pm – FREE
South Park, northeast corner, Lawrence KS 66044
Sustainability Action Network welcomes our two co-sponsors this year to the fourth annual Lawrence Electric Vehicle Showcase: the City of Lawrence Sustainability Office and the Transit System, and the Sustainability Science Fair. So far there are 23 electric cars coming including a Lucid Air, lots of electric bicycles from three bicycle shops, a Ford F-150 Lightning pickup, a Rivian pickup, and a brand new Gillig battery-electric bus from Lawrence Transit.
The public will be able to talk with the EV owners, and learn the advantages of driving an EV. The U.S. transportation sector now produces more climate heating emissions than does the electric generation sector. Plug-in EVs are zero carbon when charged with renewable energy, and greater motive efficiency means lower carbon footprint, even when charged by coal fired electricity. EVs get 100mpg equivalent or better, and the typical driving range of various makes is from 100 miles to 315 miles (Teslas up to 400 miles).
SUSTAINABILITY ACTION ANNUAL MEETING & “THE STORY OF PLASTIC” MOVIE
Saturday, 19 February 2021, 2:00pm – FREE
By Zoom only, Lawrence KS 66044
A screening of the film “The Story of Plastic” will be featured at our annual meeting. It’s a new documentary brought to us by Annie Leonard and The Story of Stuff Project, who are known for their accessible short animated videos illustrating and simplifying complex issues around consumerism and waste. After a brief business meeting and officer elections, we’ll watch the film, have a discussion, and consider what local actions to take to end plastic waste, such as getting the City to adopt single-use bag restrictions. More at – The Story of Plastic – A Summary | Green and Grumpy.
Sustainability Action Network has been advancing ecological sustainability since 2007. We focus on helping individuals live a sustainable lifestyle, while pushing institutional policy change that can impact the broader population. We work in areas of energy conservation, decentralized renewable energy, healthy climate, local food and permaculture, multi-modal transportation, prime farm soils preservation, and ecosystem protection.
Some of our 2020 actions and accomplishments include:
- We introduced the concept of “agrivoltaics” to Douglas County during their creating regulations for industrial-scale solar, and it became central to the regs.
- One of our five bikeway proposals, the Atchison Creek Trail, was taken up by the City of Lawerence, K.U. Endowment, and Evergy in a collaborative effort to build it near Evergy’s new substation.
- We organized the 3rd annual Lawrence EV Showcase, with electric buses, trucks, bicycles, and cars.
- We collaborated with the Lawrence Sustainability Advisory Board in drafting a new natural landscaping ordinance to replace the draconian weed ordinance.
- We met with Evergy executives about coal ash cleanup, and their “Integrated Resource Plan” for retirement of the Lawrence Energy Center coal plant.
The meeting will also include: an introduction to our Board, a review of our 2020 accomplishments, an open discussion on projects for the upcoming year, a brief financial report, and Board of Directors election. The Zoom link for the meeting and film is – https://us06web.zoom.us/j/88575002818?pwd=VEZSSFR6QndKY1pETzJRLzk1QXlWdz09, and the password is 312836.
Scientists have estimated that, since 1950, humans have generated 9.1 billion tons (8.3 billion metric tonnes) of plastic. About 76% of that has ended its useful life and become waste. Of that 7 billion tons of waste, only 9% has been recycled, the rest going to landfills, being incinerated, or choking and poisoning streams and oceans. The U.S. alone produces on average 35.4 million tons of plastic (32 million metric tonnes) per year, according to the EPA – Humans Have Created 9 Billion Tons of Plastic Since 1950.
This is a far cry from the public relations narrative of recyclability. Because the U.S. lacks particular equipment and market interest, most types of plastic are not recyclable, only #1 and #2. And even so, only #1 plastic bottles are regularly recycled, according to a study by Greenpeace – U.S. Survey of Plastics Recyclability. The Greenpeace report said that plastics #3 through #7, called mixed plastic, are more difficult, more expensive, and more energy intensive to process than numbers 1 and 2. Most single-use retail bags are #4.
Speaking for the Association of Plastic Recyclers, Kara Pochiro, said “What the United States needs is infrastructure equipped to process other kinds of plastic”. But John Hocevar of Greenpeace emphasized a more basic and elegant solution, saying “The really simple answer is we have to stop making so much throwaway plastic” – How much plastic actually gets recycled?.
The unimaginably large amount of plastic materials comes with equally thorny problems:
But because humans enjoy many of the properties of plastics, many problems are either below the radar or purposely ignored for the benefit of petrochemical companies. Plastics are waterproof and lightweight. Clear plastic packaging is a great marketing tool. Plastics can be formed into virtually any shape (hence the name “plastic”). They make convenient items like paint and clothes and containers. But the biggest reason we tend to overlook the problems is because petrochemical PR has misled us.
An article by NPR and PBS reported that public officials, like most people, don’t want to be told the sad truth that only a tiny fraction of plastics can economically be recycled. Laura Leebrick, a well-intentioned but naive waste hauler, recounted telling a city council that it was costing more to recycle plastic than to dispose of it. They were in denial and said “You’re lying. This is gold. This is valuable”. But NPR explained “It’s not valuable, and it never has been. And what’s more, the makers of plastic — the nation’s largest oil and gas companies — have known this all along, even as they spent millions of dollars telling the American public the opposite”. One industry insider wrote in a 1974 speech “There is serious doubt that [recycling plastic] can ever be made viable on an economic basis”.
Regardless of the fact of the matter, the public was led to embrace recycling. NPR noted that back in the late 1980s, plastic was in a crisis because of too much plastic trash. The public was getting upset. The genius — and fraud — of the plastics industry was to convince the public that recycling was working. Starting in the 1990s, the public saw an increasing number of commercials and messaging about recycling plastic. When they believed the hype, they felt fine about buying more new plastic. This of course was the goal of Big Oil and Big Gas — more new plastic sold meant more profits.
Still, plastic recycling grew slowly. Recyclers were losing money when only soda bottles and milk jugs were brought in. The industry needed a new strategy. Oil and plastics executives began a quiet campaign to lobby almost 40 states to mandate that the triangular recycling symbol appear on all plastic, even if there was no way to economically recycle it. Some environmentalists also supported the symbol, thinking it would help separate plastic. It didn’t — it only made all plastic look recyclable.
With the various numbered recycling symbols, the industry succeeded in gaining widespread acceptance of recycling, even while knowing it is unfeasible. But it became a failure for recycling operators. People began throwing every kind of plastic into recycling bins, even though recyclers lost money on all but #1 and #2. Worse, it became a cost prohibitive sorting nightmare for the operators, but also for communities struggling with choosing source-separated recycling vs mixed-materials recycling. A lack of an industry standard further hampers recycling feasibility because of regional market irregularities, and because of recycling truck and equipment disparities – How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled.
Plastic recycling was never intended to work to any degree. Attempts by local communities, retailers, recycling operators, and materials marketers to find a way to make it work were random and mostly on their own. Big Oil and Gas were the only winners. Now with the nose-dive of gasoline and diesel sales, and communities beginning to ban natural gas for all-electric buildings, Big Oil and Gas are shifting their focus to increase plastic production – Big Oil’s hopes are pinned on plastics. It won’t end well.
A large part of their plan is to flood Africa with plastics as an untapped market. Currently 34 of the 54 African countries have committed to phasing out single-use plastic. The lobby group pushing to open up Africa, the American Chemistry Council, has members including Shell, Exxon and Total – Oil-backed trade group is lobbying the Trump administration to push plastics across Africa. The industry mantra has not changed from advice given to Dustin Hoffman in the 1970 film “The Graduate” – In a word, plastics: The Graduate – YouTube.
“Facilitating Climate Action at the Local Level” will be the program at this year’s annual meeting. Our keynote speaker will be Andy Rondon of Climate Action K.C.
ANNUAL MEETING OF THE SUSTAINABILITY ACTION NETWORK
Friday, 21 February 2020, 6:00pm
Douglas County Fair Grounds, Flory Building, 2120 Harper St. Lawrence KS 66046
Mr. Rondon participated in the hearings on Evergy’s rooftop solar penalty rates at the Kansas Corporation Commission, and he also helped write the Climate Action Playbook – Climate Action K.C. Playbook. Professionally, he has worked with Good Energy Solutions since 2016, a local Lawrence solar installation company – Good Energy Solutions. Prior to that, he worked in construction as a project engineer, estimator, and project manager. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Construction Engineering from Iowa State University.
The evening will begin with a pot luck dinner as in past years. The event will also include a review of our 2019 accomplishments, an open forum on projects for the current year, an introduction to our Board of Directors, and an election of new Board members. After the meeting and presentation, we’ll celebrate and socialize!
Local Solutions for Transition to a Sustainable Economy.
The Sustainability Action Network advances ecological sustainability through societal scale actions. While we work for personal lifestyle changes for individuals to minimize their carbon footprint, there is an imperative for institutional change to respond to the rapid onset of the triple global crises of Energy-Ecology-Economy. “Action” is our middle name. Visit us on the web at – Sustainability Action, and Sustainability Action | Facebook.