Plastic Free Markets Are Coming and So Are Refugees—Time to Act Santa Fe

We’ve got a list of needed items, a place to drop off donations and drivers to get them to ABQ and the refugees. Details provided. Please share. This post also features an interesting article on the growth of plastic-free food markets YAY and on New Energy Economy’s petition filed Monday opposing PNM’s plan to force ratepayers to pay for its plan to acquire nuclear energy.  What?

Today, in order, we present a story on plastic free markets, a report on New Energy Economy’s opposition to yet another PNM bailout, and the details on how you can support what is becoming a flood of refugees to Las Cruces and Albuquerque. Look for a report here very soon on Santa Fe’s plan to begin accepting refugees. But in the meantime, this week we can do our share to help those in ABQ and Las Cruces.  Let’s do this.  Read on.

Plastic Or Planet?  Plastic-Free Markets Emerging Across Country

How did it come to this?  In some markets it is nearly impossible to buy greens without a plastic container. You have to ask yourself, are we all so busy we can’t slice our own carrots?  But how did we wind up with a plasticized shopping world?  From a recent National Geographic article:  “Plastic food packaging established its reign over the modern grocery store because it served a crucial purpose in preserving perishable food items for much longer than their natural life.  A cucumber, picked even a little early, only lasts about two weeks maximum. But wrap that same cucumber in an impermeable plastic sleeve and the decay slows down. In the cutthroat world of grocery stores, where profit margins are thin and every bruised apple that doesn’t sell represents a loss, that extended life makes a big difference.”

So in the interest of maximized profit, we proliferate “cheap” plastic wrapping and containers. But how cheap is this plastic if we aren’t calculating into the cost, the long-term implications of plastic being dumped into the sea and landfill?  And if we were thinking of our food distribution system not as a profit engine, but a nutritional system, perhaps we would develop a means to quickly distribute expiring food to prepare stews and soups for resale or for donation to shelters, schools and other facilities serving low-income families.  Imagine a program where low-income students are paid to use expiring produce and turn it into nutritious stews and soups. Not only would those consuming these foods benefit, students would learn that not all soup comes from a can, that there is actually a connection between these things called vegetables that grow in the earth and these things call soup and stew.

The National Geographic article describes how small ‘natural’ stores, throwbacks to the 60s, are emerging where bulk food is featured prominently, where plastic is not used at all, and where the owners first priority is sustainability. NG reports these stores developing quickly worldwide. The transition to plastic free, requires a change in consumer behaviors, with consumers asked to bring their own glass containers or plastic-free bags to gather their food. But these are the kinds of changes that consumers must make to allow a change in retail behavior.

Two national chain markets, Krogers and Trader Joe’s, are identified by NG as seeking ways to ween out plastic, From my visits to TJ’s in Santa Fe, it seems like they still have quite a ways to go, but Krogers has made major strides.”The company calculated that they handed out about 6 billion plastic bags a year, about six percent of the total number of bags distributed annually across the country. That’s the equivalent of about 32,000 tons of plastic, or enough to fill over 3,000 moving trucks jam packed with bags.” Kragens is eliminating plastic in a sampling of its 2700 stores, with a goal of eliminating the use chain-wide. Click here to read the article. It does a good job of presenting both how well a plastic-free food shopping can function and the genuine challenges faced in making that transition.

PNM Plan to Foist Its Bad Nuclear Energy Decision Made in the 80’s On Rate Payers–Over a $1.1 B Tab

PNM currently has leases on 114 megawatts of energy from two units at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station. The company is proposing to buy those leases, which expire in 2023 and 2024.  But New Energy Economy has seen through PNM’s plans and filed a petition at the Public Regulation Commission yesterday.  Retake Our Democracy is one of 26 other justice organizations that have signed on as co-petitioners. As reported in the Santa Fe New Mexican:  “A rigorous PRC investigation will likely demonstrate that PNM’s investment in the purchase of the expiring Palo Verde nuclear leases will cause unjustified rate increases for expensive and risky energy,” said Mariel Nanasi, executive director of New Energy Economy.  Nanasi said if PNM is allowed to purchase the leases, it would cost ratepayers more than $1.1 billion for the electricity alone over the next 22 years. “This does not include future decommissioning costs,” she said.

Nanasi claimed PNM would be able to recoup 100 percent of its capital costs from ratepayers if the purchase is allowed. In addition, she said, the utility would be guaranteed a profit on the investment, with the cost for that profit being passed on to customers. The story behind this is that in the 80’s PNM was near bankruptcy, but in need of energy to supply New Mexico customers. They were in no position to negotiate so they accepted a deal to lease the energy rather than acquire equity. But part of the deal was that they had to accept financial responsibility for 10% of the maintenance and decommissioning costs, Of course, PNM has now come up with a plan to purchase the leases, with ratepayers paying the purchase prices and being left with the cost of decommissioning as well. It should be noted that that cost could dwarf the $1 B purchase price of 10% of the Generating Station. So, unless the petition is successful, PNM will transform a terrible business decision made in 80s into a profit bonanza at ratepayer expense.  I have not verified this with NEE, but wonder if another element to this PNM plan is that by purchasing their 10% stake in Palo Verde, they could then continue to use nuclear energy indefinitely as part of its “carbon free” RPS commitment. Much to ponder.
In conversation with Nanasi:  “We’re gonna win this one.”  And if the PRC’s recent snubbing of PNM and Facebook for their plans to foist the cost of FB transmission lines on ratepayers (PRC voted 5-0 to deny these costs being paid by ratepayers), it would not seem implausible for them to insist that shareholders bear the cost of this acquisition. It is hard to see how it benefits ratepayers in any way.  Kudos to New Energy Economy for having the courage to face down PNM.

Santa Fe Refugee Relief Effort Is In Place

Folks in ABQ have a system set up for gathering and distributing needed supplies for refugees who are in transit to their sponsor families. They are often in ABQ or Las Cruces for 2-3 days, sometimes longer, but they generally have absolutely nothing but what they are wearing. We have been petitioning, marching, and calling on their behalf.  Now they are here and we need to support them.  This looks like it could be an ongoing process, so if there is someone out there with some time to make some calls and coordinate delivery of what we collect to the organizations in ABQ doing the work, please contact me at

We have set up a secure drop off location at New Energy Economy, 343 E. Alameda, Santa Fe 505 Phone: (505) 989-7262. Open 9-5pm, but always a good idea to call first. Items needed are listed below. And we have 4 drivers ready to go, including one willing to rent a truck if we gather a ton of stuff. Let’s really do  this!!!!  Plans are in the works for Santa Fe to begin accepting refugees, as well. As soon as this plan is in place, Retake will notify you of how you can help.  There may be some clues as to Santa Fe’s plans offered on Satruday at the event below. Thank you Judy Klinger for the heads-up on this event.

The League of Women Voters of Santa Fe County is sponsoring a public forum on immigration from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at the Unitarian Church of Santa Fe, 107 W. Barcelona Road. Panelists include Marcela Diaz, Somos Un Pueblo Unido; Allegra Love, Santa Fe Dreamers Project; Rebekah Wolf, New Mexico Immigrant Law Center; and Mayor Alan Webber.”

I have posted on our FB page. If you haven’t “liked” our page, please do so, as increasingly it will be used to generate conversation on issues and policies, as well as to announce actions and events like this one. Nob Hill Indivisible has also organized volunteers and online donations that go to ABQ Interfaith and Catholic Charities.  Donations for Asylum seekers can be made at  They are also coordinating the volunteers, and people can sign up on their website. They are doing this with Abq Interfaith, Catholic Charities and the City of ABQ.  They just worked all weekend with the City to process 100 asylum seekers and it was such a rewarding experience they urge others to sign up. We may well want to set up a similar system here once we begin accepting refugees. Again, it would be great if there were someone who could step up to head up this effort.  Below are the items needed.


  • children’s clothing
  • children’s shoes
  • children’s jackets
  • women’s shoes size 5 to 8
  • women’s jackets
  • women’s belts
  • women’s pants & tops
  • women’s underwear
  • sports bras and camisoles
  • men’s shoes size 5 to 8
  • men’s jackets
  • men’s belts
  • men’s pants and briefs, waist sizes 29 to 34
  • lightweight gloves, caps and hats

Kids’ Stuff:

  • small toys
  • coloring books and crayons
  • stuffed animals

Personal Stuff:

  • Backpacks
  • lightweight lap blankets
  • reusable flat grocery bags
  • hygiene supplies – tampons, diapers
  • travel sized hygiene items
  • lip balm
  • small jars of Vaseline
  • Pepto Bismol tabs
  • individually wrapped allergy and pain medication
  • cough drops with eucalyptus
  • children’s cough medicine


  • individually wrapped travel size snacks
  • fresh fruit
  • Bottles of water & juice

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Economic Justice, Community & Economic Development, Social & Racial Justice & Immigration Reform

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7 replies

  1. Did you mean Krogers (not Kragens) in the section about plastic use?

  2. Is the Drop off for the refugees at NEE today only?

  3. Comment on PNM’s plan regarding “indefinite” nuclear energy. PNM published a generation projection page in their January Annual 2019 report on their website with 31-34% nuclear generation projected through 2035 and closure of their last coal fired plant 2031. So I take this to mean yes- nukes indefinitely.

  4. A couple of comments on the plastics issue. Of course we need to reduce the plastics in our food chain, but there is also a value in the extended shelf life for people like me who live far away from the grocery store. The added carbon foot print for my going to the store several times a week would negate any gain. The plastics problem is bigger than just fresh food and bottled water. There is also a lot of other plastic packaging that serves no purpose that can be challenged as well. But there are 2 other points to be made. 1 – the difference between petroleum based plastics and plant based plastics. As we get hemp oils into the stream, along with corn oil (with all that is wrong with that), we can improve the technology of the plastics we use even as we reduce their use. Plant oils do break down rather than just become smaller and smaller particles. 2 – I have been trying to figure out how my straw here in the desert could get into the ocean and then I saw an article about how we are shipping our plastic waste to other countries, some even island countries. Far more than just China to have them bury it for us. It is also in that handling and mishandling of our refuse that creates a bigger problem. I would suggest that we tackle the problem by managing our plastics at home. We should not be shipping it anywhere beyond our own waste management. We need support for entrepreneurial investment in home grown recycling and management. That works on the problem as well as creating jobs at home rather than dumping our garbage on other people and loosing it into the ocean along the way. We must become responsible for our own garbage and that in turn would encourage a reduction in its creation.


  1. Update on Refugees. 400-700 a Day Being Released by ICE in El Paso. Pipeline to an Overwhelmed Las Cruces | Retake Our Democracy
  2. A Look Back at Our Use of Plastics, New Energy Economy’s Petition at the PRC (PNM again) and Immigration & Asylum Seekers | Retake Our Democracy

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