I know we are all suffering from election-year fatigue, and the propositions up for vote make it even more overwhelming. It can seem daunting to cut through all the technical jargon and really understand what is at stake. On November 8th, California has a historic opportunity to enact a law that was passed by the legislature in 2014 but has since been held up by its opponents. It is a simple case of the people’s vote versus the interests of big business; in this case, big “plastic” business. I am referring to CA Prop 67 – the Ban on single-use plastic bags. Before your eyes cross and frustration sets in, let me share a cliff notes version of what is really at stake and why you should care.
In a nutshell, California SB 270 is a bill to ban single-use plastic bags across the state. It was signed into law in 2014 and was supposed to take effect in 2015, but unfortunately, the plastic industry has been successful at stalling the process. Which brings us to the current Proposition 67. If this Prop wins on November 8th, then SB 270 will finally go into effect banning single-use plastic bags. If this prop loses then the bill will not go into effect. However, there is a little complication. Another proposition, Prop 65, created by the plastic allies, is also up for a vote and it is directly connected to Prop 67. It appears that Prop 65 is aimed to discourage retailers from supporting the ban by creating confusion with conflicting provisions, and politically tie up the possibility of the law going into effect. So, if you vote “yes” for Prop 67 and support the single-bag ban then it would make sense to vote “no” for Prop 65. A successful Prop 65 could completely unravel the entire bill.
Why should you care?
The average amount of time a plastic bag is used is a whopping 12 whole minutes! The environmental cost to make this bag of convenience is about 12 billion barrels of oil. Over a trillion bags are manufactured each year and less than 5% are recycled; that leaves a crazy amount of bags just floating around out there for a very long time and taking from 20 to 1,000 years to decompose.Yikes! If that isn’t enough to give you pause, then how about this.. – it is estimated that there are 46,000 bits of plastic floating in our oceans for every square mile and, that number is still growing. These bits of toxic plastic are being ingested by wildlife and the larger pieces are even strangling them. The impact is wide spread and devastating.
“It is estimated that more than 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean.” ~ Sea Turtle Conservancy
This plastic pollution is not only hurting our wildlife and environment, it’s coming back to us in our own food chain. Plastic was made to last, and boy, is it. So, what next? Well, we have a choice to either keep doing the same thing knowing the consequences, or to change our behavior. Is 12 minutes of use really worth all the long-term damage it causes? I urge those of you in California to Vote YES on Prop 67 next Tuesday and make a stand for a better future for us all.
For more information on plastic pollution visit:
Heal The Bay
Plastic Pollution Coalition
Terra Mar Project