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August 24, 2009 | Emily Monosson, Emily Monosson, an independent toxicologist, runs "The Neighborhood Toxicologist" blog.
My daughter and I recently made the annual back-to-school pilgrimage to the local big-box office store, and I am appalled. For me, the leathery smell of new shoes stirs sweet pangs marking those precious last days of summer; for my children, it likely will be the smell of vinyl and assorted plastics. As a child of the 1960s, when plastics had yet to touch every aspect of our lives, my pencils and rulers were made of wood; my binders, cardboard and fabric; my book bag, canvas, and back-to-school shopping wasn't a major industry, let alone a "season."
April 18, 2014 | By Mary MacVean
I wash 1-quart plastic bags to reuse them. And every time, I wonder if I'm doing the right thing. Am I saving plastic? Wasting water? Just being cheap? Such questions can take up a lot of brain space these days and create anxiety in surplus as we contemplate our consumption of the Earth's resources. There's potential for dozens of quandaries every day: If I drive nine miles to my favorite farmers market, is that OK? Or must I go to the closer one I don't like as well? Paper or plastic bags?
August 1, 2013 | By Louis Sahagun
A team of researchers in Woods Hole, Mass., has discovered a novel ecological habitat flourishing in one of the fastest growing segments of civilization's toxic waste stream: plastic marine debris. Welcome to the Plastisphere, a biological wilderness on microbial reefs of polyethylene and polypropylene in the open ocean teeming with single-celled animals, fungi and bacteria, many of them newly discovered. Some may be pathogens hitching rides on floating junk. The effects of plastic debris on fish, birds, turtles and marine mammals that ingest it are well documented.
April 4, 2014 | By Sharon Mizota
All the world may once have been a stage, but it is certainly now a screen. In her solo gallery debut at Charlie James, L.A. artist Valerie Green gives us a smartphone eye's view of the sublime: the sky above our heads. The nine images in the series “Look Up” were taken through the moon roof of the artist's car, adorned with the phone's screen protector, a slip of plastic that would be transparent were it not for the marks and scratches of restless fingers. The skies range from gray and rain-spotted to blissfully blue, but the screen protector creates a ghostly image of the phone itself, something like a self-portrait.
March 1, 2012
Some recipes, such as the Bouchon crème caramel, call for baking foods in pans that have been sealed with plastic wrap to hold in the moisture. It works well - as long as you have access to the right kind of plastic wrap. Unfortunately, when we tested the recipe with common supermarket brands - even those that were labeled microwave-safe - we found that the plastic wraps split and melted. To be sure, we tried baking three wraps at temperatures of 300, 350 and 400 degrees. The only wrap that didn't fail was Smart & Final's First Street brand.
December 17, 2013 | By David Lazarus
Rick went to the gas station the other day. He saw that there was one price for paying in cash, another for paying with plastic. And the plastic price was 10 cents a gallon higher. He wants to know: Is that legal? Sort of. ASK LAZ: Smart answers to consumer questions In California, merchants are prohibited from charging a premium for using a credit card. So that would make the higher gas price illegal. But there's a big, fat loophole in the law. Check out today's Ask Laz video to find out what it is. If you have a consumer question, email me at or contact me via Twitter @Davidlaz .  
March 28, 2014 | By Dana Sullivan Kilroy
If you're in the market for an alternative to plastic or metal water bottles, here are a few options: Lifefactory Flip Top Holds 22 ounces; weighs 19 ounces unfilled, $24.99 The cap at the mouthpiece is attached but flips back for sipping. The bottles are slightly curved, making them easy to hold. CamelBak Eddy Holds 24 ounces; weighs 18.4 ounces unfilled, $24.95 Made with CamelBak's signature bite valve: Just bite and sip; no tipping required.
March 15, 2011 | From Times wire reports
Lean Cuisine has ordered more than 10,000 pounds of its frozen spaghetti and meatball entrees recalled, according to the Department of Agriculture. The dishes are said to possibly contain foreign material. The company received complaints from consumers about hard plastic in the dinners. No injuries were reported. The spaghetti is produced by Nestle and was shipped to stores east of the Rocky Mountains. The complains have come from consumers in Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota.
January 27, 2012 | By Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times
Just off a rutted dirt road, a beach as white as flour pops into view from behind a wall of sea grape and rustling palms. Pelicans slice over turquoise waters, and not a single person stirs the quiet. The tableau, along a little-developed segment of Mexico's Caribbean coast, is a beachgoer's fantasy of unspoiled seaside splendor. Until you look down. For as far as the eye can see, the sand glitters with bits of bright color: fragments of trash, thousands and thousands of them, strung like a vast, foul necklace.
July 2, 2011 | By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times
Southern California researchers found plastic in nearly 1 in 10 small fish collected in the Pacific Ocean in the latest study to call attention to floating marine debris entering the food chain. The study published this week by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego estimated that fish in the middle depths of the northern Pacific Ocean are ingesting as much as 24,000 tons of plastic each year. Although the research found a lower percentage of plastic-fouled fish than previous studies, it is the latest to quantify how many fish are eating marine garbage — most of it confetti-sized flecks of discarded plastic — that has accumulated in vast, slow-moving ocean currents known as gyres.
March 29, 2014 | Dana Sullivan Kilroy
There's a reason wine and spirits are stored in glass: purity of taste. Plastic (and, to a lesser degree, metal) can impart various "flavors" into the liquids it comes into contact with. But that's just one reason that glass is an increasingly popular alternative to plastic and aluminum or stainless steel sport-style bottles. Another is peace of mind. About five years ago, scientists and the Food and Drug Administration started issuing warnings about bisphenol A, commonly called BPA, a chemical used in plastics and in the linings of some metal vessels.
March 28, 2014 | By Dana Sullivan Kilroy
If you're in the market for an alternative to plastic or metal water bottles, here are a few options: Lifefactory Flip Top Holds 22 ounces; weighs 19 ounces unfilled, $24.99 The cap at the mouthpiece is attached but flips back for sipping. The bottles are slightly curved, making them easy to hold. CamelBak Eddy Holds 24 ounces; weighs 18.4 ounces unfilled, $24.95 Made with CamelBak's signature bite valve: Just bite and sip; no tipping required.
March 6, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to carry a water bottle there. Why? Because the Board of Supervisors voted this week to ban the sale of single-use bottles of water in city buildings and parks and at city-permitted events, making San Francisco the largest municipality in the country to phase out plastic water bottles. The ban will cover indoor events starting Oct. 1, and will be extended to all events by 2016. There would be exceptions for some sports outings, such as foot races, and planners could apply for waivers if they can't secure a water supply.
February 28, 2014 | By Charlotte Allen
There's a war against Legos. I know what you're thinking: How could anyone have a beef with those colorful, plastic toy bricks with which you can build cities, stage your own Bible stories or reenact the Trojan War, the Civil War or Star Wars? And hasn't "The Lego Movie" been No. 1 at the box office for three straight weeks? But here's Lego's problem: The main market for the $4 billion company's traditional plastic bricks and mini-figures is boys. Certainly some girls enjoy making castles or skyscrapers out of the bricks, just like their brothers, but in 2011, Lego's market research boys found that 90% of Lego users were boys.
February 15, 2014 | Anne Colby and Lisa Boone
That trip to Paris. A memorable meal. Her first swim lesson. The reunion of far-flung family members that may never happen again. Thanks to the ease and ubiquity of digital and smartphone cameras, we are capturing precious memories and others more ordinary at an increasing rate. The question becomes how best to preserve, organize and enjoy these pictures -- along with those taken before the dawn of the Digital Age (not so long ago, really). Here are a few ideas. -- (BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
February 13, 2014 | Ricardo Lopez
California is lining up to become the largest state to ban the sale of cosmetic products, such as facial scrubs, containing tiny plastic beads that find their way into waterways and the ocean. Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) plans to introduce a bill Thursday that would ban the sale of products containing the microbeads, which are too small to be removed by water treatment processes after they drain out of sinks and showers. A New York legislator introduced a similar measure Tuesday after scientists found high concentrations of the tiny exfoliating beads in the state's lakes and other waters.
April 22, 1990
In honor of Earth Day, may I extend to the Los Angeles Times both an orchid and, unfortunately, a small onion? First, an orchid for your strong support of resource recycling and conservation. These goals make increasing economic as well as environmental sense, and your support is greatly appreciated. However, could I encourage you to include conservation a bit more in your procedures (and save money at the same time)? I am referring to the fact that my home delivered copy of The Times arrives every day, rain or shine, encased in a plastic bag. Since in San Diego there are far more shiny days than rainy ones, the expenditure on plastic bags is perhaps three or four times greater than it needs to be. Why such a waste?
March 15, 2011 | By Gregory Karp
It's an environmental as well as a marketing achievement: using 100% agricultural waste to make a top-quality plastic bottle that can then be placed back in the existing recycling system. "It's closing the loop," said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "It's the beginning of the end for petroleum-based plastic bottles. " PepsiCo announced Tuesday that it had "cracked the code," inventing what it calls the world's first plastic bottle made entirely from plant-based, fully renewable resources.
February 9, 2014 | By Hugo Martin
Next time you get a drink on a United Airlines, flight you may notice a new cup in your hand. In an effort to become more eco-friendly, United is replacing its foam cups with recyclable plastic cups. United is not the only airline thinking about air travel's effect on the environment. Southwest Airlines has converted diesel-burning ramps, belt-loaders and other equipment to electric power and recently installed plane seats and interiors made with recyclable material. Delta Air Lines recycles some of its waste and donates money generated to Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit home building charity.
January 30, 2014 | By Ted Rall
It looks to be the end of the plastic grocery bag as we know it, at least in California. The Assembly appears to have struck a deal in which Californians would pay at least a dime for each recycled paper or reusable plastic bag they get at the grocery store. The currently ubiquitous single-use plastic bags that have bedeviled litter-control types and environmentalists would be prohibited. That's a lot of bags. Californians use an estimated 12 billion single-use plastic bags each year.
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