Take Action – Ban Plastic Bags

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

Each year, the average consumer uses 500 plastic bags. Each of these 500 plastic bags cost the taxpayer as much as 17 cents in recycling, collection and disposal—totalling $85 per year. Support AB 1998 to save our environment and your tax dollars. Photo credit Matthew Meier Photography

It’s down to the wire. With days to go until the legislative deadline of August 31, we need to push HARD to get AB 1998 to the front of the agenda. If you haven’t already, please write AND call your senator to tell them you support Assembly Bill 1998 to rid the state of single-use plastic bags.

We all know that single-use bags are bad for our environment, but did you know that they are also bad for our California economy? Litter from single-use plastic items decreases tourist values and costs local governments and private businesses millions of dollars each year to cleanup. To stop the flow of debris from our hands to the sea, we need legislation such as AB 1998 that will affect the entire state. This bill will ban plastic single-use bags and require recycled paper bags be sold at supermarkets, retail pharmacies and convenience stores throughout California, thus pushing Californians towards the sustainable choice—REUSABLE BAGS!

Want to get more involved?

Help us get last minute supporters by forwarding this link to friends and neighbors, sending in a letter on behalf of your business or contacting Coastkeeper for more information.

Published in Marine Debris

Ban Plastic Bags

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

California’s ocean economy is valued at $43 billion, including an estimated 408,000 jobs mostly in the tourism and recreation sectors. But plastic bags are littering our waterways and our coasts, threatening the marine environment, damaging our economy, and creating a potential hazard to human health. Join in the fight against plastic bag waste by SUPPORTING AB 1998!

dsc00052-sAssembly Bill 1998 (AB 1998) will ban plastic single-use bags and require recycled paper bags be sold at supermarkets, retail pharmacies, and convenience stores throughout California. Passage of this legislation is a major step in breaking our addition to single-use bags and reducing the environmental and economic impacts of plastic bag pollution in inland and coastal communities.

State agencies in California spend $25 million every year to clean up plastic single-use bags that end up in our waste stream. This value doesn’t include the millions of dollars that local governments must spend in street sweeping, litter prevention and outreach programs, and cleaning up trash-impaired waterways. Our time and money can be put to better use.

We urge you to join the fight to BAN PLASTIC BAGS and reduce trash in our waterways and on our beaches!

Please sign this letter telling your California State Senator that you support AB 1998 to ban single-use plastic bags. Try to send in a letter of support on behalf of the business you work for, and show that this bill will not negatively impact our California economy. Contact Coastkeeper for more information.

Published in Marine Debris

How Qualcomm Does It

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

Not everyone gets to spend Friday afternoon on the beach and then enjoy a delicious cookout with a bunch of cool people and call it “work.” I love my job! At the end of June, I headed down to Mission Bay for a sponsored beach cleanup with about 60 employees from Qualcomm.

These folks know how to do team activities right!

They showed up together, had team colors and a scavenger hunt, and then all hung out for lunch and some pickup football afterwards. Everyone was really engaged, asking questions about marine debris and plastic in the ocean. Luckily, I had San Diego Coastkeeper’s outreach intern with me to answer the really detailed questions. The most common comment was, “When we got here I thought the place looked so clean! But then when we started picking trash up, I couldn’t believe how dirty it was!”

All told, we collected 156 pounds of trash in about two hours, got a good tan and met some new people. Pretty phenomenal.

Published in Marine Debris

Ocean Protection Council Sets Statewide Environmental Precedent, Part 2

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

San Diego recently hosted the California Ocean Protection Council (COPC), a committee we haven’t seen in this region since 2005. Governor Schwarzenegger created the COPC to regulate ocean health in California, and the commissioners represent the state’s leading elected and appointed officials. As the executive director of San Diego Coastkeeper, the county’s largest water quality non-profit, I was pleased to see the council include panels addressing both the desalination issue as well as the growing threats from marine trash.

The COPC  included a panel discussion that will continue to elevate in importance through 2010 and beyond: marine debris and toxins in our ocean. The COPC set an objective to reduce the tonnage of debris along California’s coast by 50 percent within a 12 year period, ending in 2011. While we know this issue is staggering, scientists across the world are still gathering data to help us understand the complexity and size of the issue. We need more advanced research to comprehend how much plastic is accumulating in the open sea, at what rate and how it truly impacts the marine life.

After two years of collecting marine debris data at our cleanups, we find that plastics continue to dominate the type of debris found littering San Diego County beaches. So far this year, San Diego Coastkeeper engaged more than 12,000 volunteers to remove more than 183,000 pounds of trash at monthly cleanups and other cleanup events such as Coastal Cleanup Day, Creek to Bay and Morning after Mess. During the monthly cleanups in partnership with Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Chapter, more than 93,000 pieces of plastic and items made of plastic or Styrofoam were collected at 20 cleanups countywide.

This is only the trash we collected on the beach and doesn’t account for all the debris that floated into our oceans. Once there, bottles sink and the sun breaks plastics down into micro-sized pieces ingested by marine life and birds. This creates a problem so unseen scientists and researchers strive to measure its true impact.

COPC is just beginning to collect data from its 12-year mission to reduce debris along the state’s coastline, and I look forward to sharing with you their findings as they begin calculating them. This problem will not disappear easily; we’ll need to band together as a community to find solutions.

Published in Marine Debris

Help Ban the Bag in San Diego

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

Tired of seeing bags on your streets and beaches? Coastkeeper is working hard to rally support for Assembly Bill 1998, which would help Californians shift to reusable bags and reduce plastic bags making their way into our ocean. The bill passed the state assembly and is now in Senate committees. You can help by calling and also sending an email to your senator. If you are from a business that would be in support of getting rid of bags or have any questions about the bill, please contact Coastkeeper’s marine debris coordinator.

Published in Marine Debris