Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oakland's Increased Flat-Rate Sewer Fees Disproportionally Harm Water Savers

Here's a story that has been brewing in my head for nine months. When we got our first water bill as Oakland homeowners, I was shocked to see that we were paying only $3 for water a month, but $22 for a flat-rate sewer service charge to the city. When Oakland released a proposal last month to raise that rate from $22 to $34.71 over three years (a 56% increase), I knew I had a flashpoint to address the issue. I also came across other low-water users in Oakland who were concerned about the inequity. So I crunched the numbers, did the analysis, and came up with this.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Berkeley Brings Rainwater Inside

As someone who's guilty of the eco-err I described in the lead paragraphs of this story, I'm very interested in the idea of bringing collected rainwater inside the home for non-potable use. Perhaps someday. But here's the story of Berkeley's first permitted interior use of rainwater, which collects in a buried 2,500-gallon tank and feeds the toilets and washing machine of a new three-bedroom home high in the hills. This installation is far above and beyond what is realistic for most people, but should at least get some wheels turning within the city and the rest of the East Bay as far as encouraging adoption of this creative yet practical water-saving solution.

A Craft Paint So Green You Can Eat It

I don't like to do a lot of stories on green products, but after painting our entire home (well, almost done) with no-VOC paint, this all-natural arts and crafts paint company out of Berkeley caught my eye. Some of Glob's paints are made from food-grade ingredients -- meaning you could eat them, even if founder Ashley Phelps doesn't exactly recommend it. The interesting point is that craft paints are almost entirely non-regulated, meaning there's no equivalent of low- or no-VOC paint for children, artists, and others who use the highly toxic stuff on a regular basis.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

From the Chron: Statewide Single-Use Bag Ban Likely?

As I reported in my story on East Bay plastic bag bans a couple weeks ago, a number of local cities have their eyes on a proposed statewide ban on single-use bags. As they attempt to pursue their own plastic bag bans, many are also watching AB1998, which would render local ordinances moot. It would also be more strict than existing and proposed local ordinances throughout the state, because it bans both single-use paper and plastic (San Francisco's existing ban is plastic only) in almost all instances (San Francisco's applies only to large supermarkets and chain pharmacies). According to a report in today's Chronicle, the bill has a good chance of passing after receiving the endorsement of the California Grocers Association. The bill will be voted on in the assembly this week and could go to a Senate vote later this year.