We toss a recyclable bouquet to the San Luis Obispo City Council for directing staff to draft an ordinance banning food containers made of expanded polystyrene (EPS), which apparently is the proper term for that white spongy stuff that’s great for storing take-out food and drink, but is not so great for the environment.
It’s so bad, in fact, that bans on EPS products already are in effect in more than 80 California cities and counties, and many large chains — including Mc-Donald’s — have stopped using EPS products.
Here are some reasons: EPS products pile up in landfills; add to the plastic garbage accumulating in oceans and other waterways; may affect human health (styrene has been found in samples of human fat tissue); and are extremely hazardous when burned, on account of the chemicals released.
Alternative products are more expensive, and for that reason, the SLO council is considering a hardship clause that would give small businesses that could be hurt by the ban more time to comply. Sounds like the City Council is taking an enlightened approach; stay tuned for future developments.
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Stop stalling on earthquake safety
Every time there’s an earthquake, we learn how far we’ve come — and how far we have to go to be as prepared as possible for The Big One.
The recent quake in Napa drove home the importance of securing not only buildings, but what’s inside them. Case in point: Heavy oak wine barrels came crashing down at several Napa wineries and storage facilities.
While no injuries were linked to falling barrels, there could have been serious harm done had the quake occurred during working hours, rather than at 3:20 a.m.
It’s obvious that more care must be paid to how wine barrels are stored, especially in quake-prone areas like ours.
Interestingly, a Cal Poly engineering professor, Charles Chadwell, has been working on a barrel storage system that allows racks to slide during an quake, rather than sway and topple.
We toss Chadwell a seismically safe bouquet. The state of California, on the other hand, earns a unretrofitted brickbat for its lackadaisical approach to seismic safety. To wit, there are no state regulations specifically relating to the seismic safety of wine barrel stacks.
While the Napa experience will no doubt spur many winery owners to explore safer storage systems on their own, it’s time the state set some safety standards as well.
Doggy dining law was long overdue
We’ve been dining with dogs for years, so it was a surprise to learn we were technically breaking the law when we invited our animal companions to dine al fresco at local restaurants. According to the Sacramento Bee, the state Health and Safety Code has long prohibited dogs anywhere on the premises of a food facility, though many jurisdictions have been looking the other way.
Finally, the law has caught up to reality: The state Legislature recently passed a bill amending the Health and Safety Code to allow dogs in restaurants, as long as they are in outdoor areas where no food preparation occurs. (Isn’t it good to know our state lawmakers are working so hard on our behalf?)
There are, of course, some caveats: Dogs must be on a leash or in a container. On-duty employees may not have direct conduct with dogs and, if they do, they must wash their hands.
And absolutely no climbing on seats, tables or benches or — sorry, pup — you’ll be munching on a brickbat instead of abone.