Aussie Retailers Brave Customer 'Bag Rage' to Save the Planet
The Australian states of Queensland and Western Australia, as well as the supermarket chains Coles, Big W and Woolworths joined the war on plastic pollution July 1 with new restrictions on single-use plastic bags, National Public Radio (NPR) reported. But some angry customers have been fighting back in a phenomenon the press is dubbing "bag rage."
Woolworths decided to stop offering single-use bags on June 20, before the July 1 deadline, charging 15 Australian cents for reusable plastic bags instead, according to BBC News.
But one customer was so enraged by the change, he wrapped his hands around the throat of a Woolworth's employee, The West Australian reported.
"A male customer in the self-serve area swore loudly at a female worker," Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association (SDA) assistant secretary Ben Harris told The West Australian. "She provided him with some complimentary bags and apologised. He made a mistake by scanning an item twice, the worker came to help him remove it and he walked up behind her and put his hands around her throat."
The SDA surveyed 132 of its members and found that 57 had faced abuse from customers because of the ban, BBC News reported.
"I'm being told that I'm money-grabbing scum," one worker said in the survey, according to the West Australian.
The SDA has responded with a campaign called "Don't Bag Retail Staff," including a video in which a customer angrily demands to know why he can't get a free plastic bag, and a fish and turtle shopping behind him say, "Uh, I think you know why, mate."
Following the backlash, Woolworths announced that it would give the reusable bags away for free until July 8.
"They just want a little extra help from us to get through the transition," Woolworths Managing Director Claire Peters said in a statement, according to BBC News.
In response to the tension at Woolworths, Coles said it would open every checkout Sunday and have extra staff members on hand to help ease the transition.
"We are taking a proactive step," a Coles spokesperson said.
Despite the vocal minority of complainers, a statement on Woolworths' website says that three-quarters of its customers support the change.
"This is a landmark day for us not just as a business, but for our customers and communities, to help support a greener future for Australia. We are proud to say that from now on, single-use plastic bags are gone from our stores, for good," Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said in the June 20 statement.
Since Tasmania and South Australia previously banned single-use plastic bags, there are now only two Australian states that do not fine retailers for offering single-use plastic bags, according to NPR.
These states join the around 40 countries that have instituted bans on plastic bags, including Bangladesh, China and 15 countries in Africa, BBC News reported.
By Jessica Corbett
A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."
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Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.
Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.
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An extremely rare North Atlantic right whale calf was found dead off the North Carolina coast on Friday.
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