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Rep. Shelli VanDenburgh (Indiana).
She can kick any Chicago Alderman’s ass. Read on to learn why.

Why hello there.
It’s been a while since we’ve talked.  I know.  Life has a way of doing this to us, doesn’t it?  I owe you many fun posts about what’s happening, photo’s that you’ll “like” and swoon over… and I have both, believe me.

But for now, and at risk of being rude, I’d like to take a minute and get real.

It’s Earth Day.  With all it’s gimmicky goodness, it does allow for us to take pause.
Yesterday- our usual “pause” was our small break in work to shove some food into our faces and sit on our couch and watch a little TV.  This is Tony and my only time for concentrated recreation these days.

I turned on the TV and flipped to PBS instead of or usual Comedy Central or the DVR list. Playing was “Bag It“, a documentary made in 2010 that I’ve learned has won numerous independent film awards.  I’m not one to jump to the latest Supersize Your Mom fads, so I’m not surprised I missed it.  The Cliff-notes summary is that it is about a man who starts out trying to avoid plastic bags and leads him down a rabbit hole of amazing discoveries about PLASTIC. (dum-dum-duuuum).  It doesn’t sound like much, but boy… it was kind of amazing.
Anyway… I’m still angry and thinking about it.  I ran to Facebook and posted my usual mini-rant about endocrine disruptors (you know, the usual).  Then I googled a bit and found a petition to sign- I signed it- posted it to Facebook as well and asked friends to sign it.

Today, I woke up… still thinking, there’s more to be done.
I sent my Alderman a quick facebook post asking him to watch the movie tonight on the Documentary Channel.  That’s annoying, I know, but what the hell. He’s like 3 years younger than me, so whatevs. I can send him a facebook message, I voted for him.
So then I found a list of the Alderman in the City of Chicago.  Turns out, their email addresses are pretty simple: ward01 [at] @cityofchicago.org, with the appropriate ward number for where you live of course.

Then I sent them ALL an email and asked them to “think outside the bag” (*insert word-play cringe here).

This is the point of my blog post.
How are we supposed to see progress in our priorities if we don’t let those making the decisions know what our priorities are?

Chicagoans, I urge you to keep your Alderman on speed dial, …or the email equivalent.  Let them know what you want.  Did you know last November, Alderman Joe Mareno from Ward 1 attempted to pass legislation that would allow for plastic bags to be banned in Chicago?  It was chopped down to essentially “strongly urging” merchants to offer recycling programs. (*insert sad trombone sound here).  Boo.
That sucks.  Had I been informed then, perhaps I could have helped let the city counsel know how I feel about.  Ok, I’m just one person, but I’m not.  We know this.  Social Media (capital S, capital M) makes us know this.

In my googling frenzy last night, I found out that INDIANA of all places has legislation out there for a bag “fee” (there’s some debate on whether it’s a fee or a tax).  If passed $.10 per bag will be charged and 25% would go toward green industry and 75% would go toward public schools.  The bill was purposed by Rep. VanDenburgh, a female Democrat from Crown Point, IN (everything about that phrase is awesome, by the way- that’s where Tony is from) and no one is overly optimistic that it will pass in the red state that Indiana is… BUT, still, INDIANA is more aggressive than Chicago?  I think this bill is simple genius.  Call it a tax. Who cares? In Chicago, we tax cigarettes, we tax alcohol, why can’t we tax something that is polluting pretty much every aspect of our lives? (seriously people, you NEED to watch this movie- you owe it to the BPA and pthalates coursing through your veins and making you infertile).
So in short, my personal to-do for this Earth Day:
  1. Know your local government well.  Don’t be shy. Make your voice heard.
  2. Avoid plastic bags as much as you can.
  3. (from Bag It): Avoid single-use items as much as possible. Reward companies that package things in as little crap as possible.
  4. Watch “Bag It” and learn more.
  5. Get Angry. Don’t be intimidated about organizing.
  6. Write lengthy blog posts and hopefully inspire someone else.

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