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Attended the “Sea of Consequence” talk by Save Our Shores (SOS) at the Museum of art and History in downtown Santa Cruz last week.

Emily Granville, Save Our Shores educator, gave this attentive group a startling look at where American’s relationship with plastic is headed. (Not long term-maybe terminal-was my take-away from this talk)

  • At any given time, about 3 million tons of trash can be found floating off the California Coast
  • 80% of floating ocean trash is plastic
  • 80% of plastic pollution that enters the ocean originated from a land-based source
  • SOS tracking data shows that from June 2007 – March 2010 SOS volunteers have removed over 19,887 plastic bags during beach and river cleanups
  • There is no known life cycle for plastic (Translate: Plastic is forever)

Here’s where it comes from-

  • 60,000 plastic bags are discarded in the US every 5 seconds (Chris Jordan, 2010)
  • It is estimated that an average individual uses 130 plastic bags per year (Earth Resource, 2010)
  • 2 million plastic beverage bottles are used in the US every 5 minutes (Chris Jordan, 2010)

Save Our Shores has been working on a Marine Debris Initiative. On April 14, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to support of an ordinance to ban the use of plastic bags at retail shops and impose a surcharge on paper bags. But here’s the rub, the plastic bag ordinance must wait while an EIR (Environmental Impact Review) to avoid lawsuits that have occurred during similar plastic bag ban efforts in other locations (like Berkeley –vs- the American Chemistry Council). It is also essential that unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County join in this effort.

Click here to sign the Plastic Bag ban petition.