Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Choose the Bay over the Bag!

by Amy Alton, Communications Associate

Did you know that Bay Area residents use an estimated 3.8 billion plastic bags per year and discard over one hundred plastic bags per second? You might also be surprised to learn that the average plastic bag is only used for 12 minutes. That's it—just 12 minutes.

Plastic bags are a major component of urban litter. Even when placed in trash or recycling bins, these lightweight bags are often picked up by wind and blown into the gutters –where they flow into creeks and storm drains and then into the Bay and ocean. In fact, it is estimated that more than a million of these bags wind up in the Bay each year, spoiling water quality, smothering wetlands and entangling and killing marine animals.

Yet we continue to produce, use and discard plastic bags with reckless abandon. In just a few short hours, during last year's International Coastal Cleanup Day, 1.37 million plastic bags were removed from coastal areas worldwide.

So what can we do about it?

The multi-billion dollar plastic bag industry would have you believe that recycling is the answer. But recycling isn't a viable solution. California has pushed a statewide effort to recycle plastic bags for fifteen years, but despite this, less than 5% of all single use plastic bags in the state are actually recycled. Further, recycling firms report extensive costs associated with recycling even this small portion of plastic bags and there is very little market for the recycled plastic film.

The fact of the matter is the plastics industry is putting profits over the health of the Bay, the ocean and wildlife. All over California (and the rest of the country), industry lobbyists and slick PR experts have been deployed to whip up opposition and undermine local efforts to protect the environment.

That's why we need a statewide approach to relieve cities from taking on the plastics industry one-on-one. Save The Bay is supporting California Assembly Bill 68, which would require a 25-cent fee on plastic and paper bags.

One may ask if we should be requiring fees on plastic bags during this tough economy. The truth is we already pay for plastic bags through local taxes and increased food and retail prices. It costs nothing to bring your own bag and in fact, many stores give you a credit if you do.

San Francisco Bay is one of our nation’s most beloved natural resources and California's rivers, creeks and streams are vital to the health of our environment and our quality of life. Join us to protect our waterways and tell the plastic industry to back off. It’s the Bay vs. the Bag and only one side can win!

Join the campaign, take action and watch our online movie at www.saveSFbay.org/bayVSbag

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