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From Scotland to the Channel Islands the cry goes up: 'Banish the plastic bag'
John Vidal, Guardian
Revolution which began in Modbury, Devon, taken up in 50 other areas
When the small Devon town of Modbury became the first in Europe to reject plastic bags in its shops six months ago cynics said traders and the public would soon tire of their experiment and go back to oil-based polyethylene normality.
Anything but. Not only has the self-imposed ban by the 40-odd shopkeepers held firm with the public accepting alternatives, but now 50 other cities, towns and villages are following Modbury and are in the process of ditching the eponymous symbol of the throwaway society.
They range from London, where the 33 boroughs last week proposed a city-wide ban on all throwaway bags starting in 2009, to the islands of Mull, Arran and Guernsey, which are racing to become the first plastic bag-free island in the world.
Some of the initiatives come from individuals, others from councils, and many from shopkeepers themselves. All were inspired by Modbury and Rebecca Hosking, the young wildlife camerawoman whose outrage at the pollution of Pacific ocean marine life by plastic bags led to Modbury changing.
(22 September 2007)
Making sewage water good to drink
Paul Rogers, San Jose Mercury News
The Santa Clara Valley Water District and the city of San Jose are beginning talks on a bold new strategy to boost water supplies: making sewage water clean enough to drink.
If the public backs the plan, one day millions of gallons of the purified water could be pumped into streams and groundwater aquifers across Santa Clara County and mixed with existing drinking water supplies.
The county now provides half of its drinking water from wells that pump water from those aquifers. The other half comes from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
"This is a homegrown resource. It is the most reliable supply you can have," said Eric Rosenblum, division manager for San Jose's South Bay Water Recycling Project.
"It is much less dependent on the weather than other sources. It is a great new tool to meet water needs."
The potentially controversial idea, still in the early stages, will be discussed this morning at the water district's weekly board meeting in San Jose. A final, detailed proposal isn't expected until next year.
Experts note that the technology exists to take sewage water and purify it to levels that meet California drinking water standards using an array of techniques such as reverse osmosis, microfiltration and ultraviolet light.
But in several areas around California - from San Diego to Pleasanton - attempts at blending purified wastewater with drinking water aquifers have been dropped after public outcry from critics who call the projects "toilet-to-tap."
(25 September 2007)