Thanks to cohesive support from a broad coalition of organizations, a measure to ban plastic bags at grocery stores, drug stores, liquor stores, and convenience stores has just been approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Customers would have the option of either bringing in their own reusable bag or purchasing a paper bag for 10 cents, which would go to the store for the cost of the bag. Large stores have until July 1, 2011 to comply, and smaller stores until January 1, 2012.
“Passage of the L.A. County plastic bag ban measure is a great first step toward reducing ocean plastic pollution that kills endangered sea turtles” said Dr. Chris Pincetich, marine biologist with the Sea Turtle Restoration Project. Dr. Pincetich has authored a report of the harmful effects of plastic to sea turtles and supported the L.A. County effort.
Read about our fantastic volunteer Ashley Platz's participation in the historic Los Angeles plastic bag ban rally and hearing.
San Jose, Hayward, Fremont, Berkeley, Santa Clara County and Marin County all have plans to discuss similar local plastic bag ban laws. In August, a bill for a state-wide plastic bag ban law failed to pass the Senate after receiving strong support from the California Assembly and from the governor. The Sea Turtle Restoration Project is committed to supporting plastics reduction measures at local, national, and international levels.
We joined a fantastic press event and rally with Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger to support local plastic bag bans that help save sea turtles in Sacramento, California on November 29. Almost 100 people participated in support of banning plastic bags! Our fantastic volunteer Deb Castellana produced a short video of some of the speaches, watch it below or on YouTube.
On December 7, STRP's Chris Pincetich spoke directly to all the Marin County Supervisors detailing the deadly effects of plastics on California's endangered sea turtles. Marin County is showing strong support for a ban on plastic bags, and should vote on a final ordinance soon. Read more details in the Marin Independent Journal.
The critically endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle swims along the California coast feeding on jellyfish and regularly ingests plastics by mistake. A scientific study concluded that a third of adult leatherbacks have ingested plastic, many with fatal consequences. Leatherback populations have declined 90% in the last twenty years prompting designation of Central California waters to be declared as protective critical habitat in a recent proposal by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, Californians use more than 19 billion plastic bags every year, and San Francisco Bay Area residents alone use 3.8 billion plastic bags per year and discard over one hundred plastic bags per second. Many of these bags end up in the ocean where leatherbacks accidentally eat them.
Most marine debris found in the oceans is plastic. This pollution harms and kills an estimated 100,000 sea turtles and marine mammals, and 1,000,000 sea creatures each year. Many marine animals, not just sea turtles, mistake plastic bags for food, ingest them, and are unable to digest them. As a result animals can suffer intestinal blockage, nutrient dilution, and may starve to death.