Statement from Where’s Your Bag
Since 2009, the Where’s Your Bag program has worked with local grocery stores in an effort to reduce single use bag usage in Santa Barbara. Where’s Your Bag also tables at a wide variety of community events, distributes reusable bags and educates the public about the need to switch from disposables to reusables. The reasons for reduction are well documented in a wide variety of peer-reviewed studies. Films such as “Bag It” take a close look at all these verified, scientific reasons to move away from disposable plastics. Plastic bags are of particular interest because of their proliferation in just a few decades – worldwide plastic bag usage is well over 500 million per year.
Where’s Your Bag partners Choose to Reuse and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper have been very involved in the parallel effort to advocate for bag reduction legislation. While the Where’s Your Bag voluntary effort has been somewhat successful, these groups believe that legislation is really what is needed to see meaningful reduction. Several California cities and counties have passed bag reduction legislation (Santa Monica, Calabassas, San Jose, Marin County, LA County and many more). A statewide bag ban (AB 1998) nearly passed in September 2010. Where’s Your Bag believes that this momentum will encourage the state to take action and believes that Santa Barbara should be part of this movement.
The Community Environmental Council (CEC) supports the efforts of Where’s Your Bag as a part of our fossil free mission. The recent Ordinance Committee decision not to move forward with bag legislation prompted the following letter to the editor written by Jules Zimmer (CEC Partnership Council) and Paul Orfalea (Orfalea Foundations, CEC Funder):
In the April 21st issue of the Independent, Dean Tambling reported that Councilman Hotchkiss “questioned the very validity of plastic bags as an environmental concern, arguing that they disintegrate and, being indigestible, pose no threat to coastal wildlife.” [“Council Duo Suffocates Plastic Ban”]
The immediate impact — of wildlife getting entangled in plastic bags, clogging sewer pipes, blowing around and contaminating seas, lakes and rivers, – are documented and obvious with a walk on a beach or observation of street litter. More importantly, as the plastic bags photo-degrade (rather than “disintegrate”) into smaller toxic petrol-polymers, they eventually contaminate soil and waterways and as a consequence particles are “digestible” and able to enter the food chain. To the extent that Councilman Hotchkiss was accurately reported, his statement was not factual, lacks “validity” and reflects only an opinion.
– Jules Zimmer and Paul Orfalea
The full council will vote on the matter in the near future. We need your support. Contact your council members to let them know where you stand on this issue:
Mayor Helene Schneider: HSchneider@SantaBarbaraCA.gov
Dale Fransisco: DFrancisco@SantaBarbaraCA.gov
Frank Hotchkiss: FHotchkiss@SantaBarbaraCA.gov
Grant House: GHouse@SantaBarbaraCA.gov
Randy Rowse: RRowse@SantaBarbaraCA.gov
Michael Self: MSelf@SantaBarbaraCA.gov
Bendy White: HWhite@SantaBarbaraCA.gov
Bring your bags! We are featuring our favorite reusable bags in CEC’s Amazon store. We’ve got everything from standard reusable grocery bags, to sandwich and produce bags, to compact Chico bags. If you see something you like and you buy it through CEC’s Amazon site, a percentage of your purchase will come back to CEC – an earth friendly purchase, indeed. If you already use reusable bags at the grocery store, remember to carry one with you for smaller trips to the drug store, clothes shopping, and more.