Cold turkey for plastic bags in 4101

South Brisbane retailers called to voluntarily stop supplying plastic bags for the New Year.

South Brisbane, December  24, 2014:  local resident, James Warren is calling on businesses in the 4101 postcode to go cold turkey and  stop supplying single use plastic bags to customers as their Christmas gift to the planet. In an open letter to retailers and businesses Mr. Warren is inviting them to participate in an initiative that can increase profit and business sustainability.

Stopping using plastic bags is an environmental safety issue because only 25% are reused and the rest end up in landfill or the environment.  Plastic bags are avoidable consumer waste which damage the environment and kill many animals. Plastic bags don’t break down in the environment but break up into smaller pieces. Micro-plastic is then eaten by fish and bio-accumulates up the food chain to people who eat seafood.

Mr. Warren said, “I was prompted to do something when I saw thousands of pieces of colourful blue, red and green plastic while walking along the high tide mark on the beaches of beautiful Stradbroke Island during a family holiday so I decided I had to do something for our children’s future.” “Understandably there will be some resistance to change their habits by people who have grown up with free plastic bags but many of the older generation can recall  using paper bags and boxes,’ he said.

Reducing single use plastic bags through a ban does not increase the cost to consumers because when faced with a plastic bag ban, consumers choose sustainable alternatives such as canvas or jute bags.

In South Australia, nine out of ten shoppers now take their own bags at no extra cost. California in the US has recently outlawed single use plastic bags and major countries such as China and India are working towards eliminating plastic bags.

Thousands of Queenslanders participate in the annual Clean Up Australia Day. All of these clean ups report the problem of plastic bag litter. There is a reason for South Brisbane, 4101 to address this environmental health and safety issue. It is our duty of care.

The open letter to retailers in 4101 can be viewed on google docs.

Why education should be free

In 1988 while studying my Bachelor of Science in Australian Environmental Studies I was fortunate to study major paradigm shifts in society. I had a realization that through education we can make positive improvements that result in an improved, sustainable, happier world. In 1989 the government of Bob Hawke abolished the free  universities that the Whitlam government had introduced in 1974.

Since 1989 we have seen a whittling away of public  funding of education and a gradual move toward increased privatization of education similar to the United States model of education.  However in Europe and many developed and developing nations state sponsored education is increasing. At the same time in Australia the administrative burden has steadily increased reducing teacher’s focus from student’s needs because of the increased  burden of compliance.

These developments have not been confined to the tertiary education sector but also the Vocational Education and Training, and schools sector. In Queensland, the VET sector has been restructured resulting in thousands of job losses in the TAFE, reduced accessibility to a variety of vocational courses at TAFE, and increased prices for courses at TAFE.  As well there have been numerous reports about substandard education in the private sector. In the school sector the National Assessment Plan for Literacy and Numeracy has seen increased pressure on students and teachers with less teaching time reactive to the needs of the students and increased time spent on test preparation.

I have also seen firsthand the power of education to improve people’s lives during my work as an English as a Second Language teacher for over 10 years. In this time, I have discovered that all people want a better, peaceful, happier, fulfilling lives.

The words of Halie Selassi I, Emperor of Ethiopia also support education:

“Education develops the intellect; and the intellect distinguishes man from other creatures. It is education that enables man to harness nature and utilize her resources for the well-being and improvement of his life. The key for the betterment and completeness of modern living is education. But, ‘ Man cannot live by bread alone ‘. Man, after all, is also composed of intellect and soul. Therefore, education in general, and higher education in particular, must aim to provide, beyond the physical, food for the intellect and soul. That education which ignores man’s intrinsic nature, and neglects his intellect and reasoning power can not be considered true education.”

Solutions are easy. The internet and in particular the phenomenon of social networking increase the permeability of helpful positive information. For example, the act of sharing an article in facebook, twitter or google+ can result in the information being further shared and re-shared which means it is potentially read by thousands of people in many countries.

However, there are pockets of society that are disengaged from the traditional education system and also the internet of knowledge. For this reason James’ Blue House Free School is setting up a travelling free school in a double decker school bus. The aim is to engage the disengaged and empower them to make their own life changing choices through their own self mastery. The most important people to educate are the ones who need it the most.

Please help me achieve my vision of a travelling free school by donating at