Stephen Joseph is counsel for SaveThePlasticBag.com. Click HERE for his full bio.
In 2000, he formed “San Francisco Graffiti Busters” and sued the City and County of San Francisco to have the graffiti cleaned off parking signs. In response to his initiative, the city cleaned the signs.
In 2001, he and a colleague conceived and persuaded the city to launch a “Green Patrol” to clean up litter and graffiti. The Green Patrol was launched by Mayor Brown in 2001.
Commencing in 2003, he launched and led the successful national ban trans fats campaign. He sued Kraft Food to have the trans fat removed from Oreos. (As a result, Oreos are now trans fat-free.) He sued McDonald’s regarding fraudulent advertising about trans fat. (McDonald’s French fries are now trans fat-free.)
Artificial trans fat causes heart attacks. However, before it could be banned, all of the potential consequences and alternatives had to be fully explored and understood. Therefore, he took two important actions.
First, he created “America’s First Trans Fat-Free City” in Tiburon, California to demonstrate that the concept of a trans fat-free city was workable and had no negative consequences. The project was a success and led to New York City banning trans fat.
Second, he conducted a zero trans fat cooking oil contest with all the testing done by a neutral entity, Texas A&M University. The results confirmed that trans fat-free oil have a fry life that is functionally equivalent to partially hydrogenated oil and is preferred by consumers.
He is also a member of the American Heart Association’s trans fat panel which works to ensure that trans fat is not replaced with unhealthy high saturated fat alternatives.
He was highly instrumental in bringing about the California statewide trans fat ban which the Legislature passed and the Governor signed in 2008.
No consumer choices were removed in the trans fat campaign. Oreo cookies, McDonald's french fries, and all other food items remain available to the consumer.
In April 2007, after San Francisco banned plastic bags, he was approached by plastic bag manufacturers who wanted him to help defeat ban initiatives. He refused. He assumed that the negative environmental information about plastic bags on the Internet was correct.
In March 2008, after reading an article in the London Times, he researched the subject. He was surprised to find that most of the information circulating on the Internet about plastic bags was false. He discovered that paper bags were worse for the environment, especially regarding energy consumption and CO2 and methane emissions. He changed his mind and decided to get the environmental truth out to the public. He is concerned that anti-plastic bag activists are disseminating environmental misinformation to the public and politicians. He believes that spreading environmental misinformation is simply wrong.