Victory! San Diego City Council Passes Bag Ban

Our Program Director Travis Pritchard, spreading awareness of the effects of single-use plastic bags in 2011, dressed as a bag monster.

San Diego Coastkeeper would like to commend the San Diego City Council for its vote on the City of San Diego Single-Use Carryout Bag Reduction Ordinance, a city-wide ban on disposable, single-use plastic bags. We have supported and fought for this measure for the past 7 years, and want to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of local organizations such as Surfrider San Diego for their unwavering commitment to seeing this issue addressed. Coastkeeper laid the groundwork for this action by lobbying the city to put funds and time towards preparing an Environmental Impact Report, which was required before the ordinance could be considered by the City Council.

The citizen data from our beach cleanups has been used to help communicate about the issue to elected officials and their staff. Throughout our twenty-one years of beach cleanups, debris studies, boat trips, and visits to remote riverine locations with our Water Quality Monitoring program, Coastkeeper staff, members, and volunteers have seen first hand the environmental blight that improperly disposed-of plastic bags have caused. Lightweight and effortlessly mobile, they blow across our streets and sidewalks, find their way into our storm drains, and ride the waterslide of urban runoff to the sea. We find them tangled in creekside vegetation, twisted in kelp forests, and, most tragically, in the bellies and around the necks of some of our most precious wildlife.

The passing of this ordinance will take roughly 500 million bags out of circulation, per year, in the city of San Diego alone. This is a fantastic local victory, and an important first step in reducing plastic pollution statewide. We look forward to seeing a statewide referendum on the ballot this November, and hope the momentum from our victory here in San Diego will encourage voters statewide to support Senate Bill 270 with their yes vote.