Perhaps the most environmentally significant accomplishments of Antonio Villaraigosa as mayor of Los Angeles was turning the historic ban on single-use plastic bags into law. The ordinance, approved in an 11-1 vote by the City Council, bars stores that sell perishable food from distributing plastic bags at the checkout. The ban takes effect for large stores in January 2014, while smaller businesses, including convenience stores, have until July 2014 to comply. With LA’s policy in place, one in three Californians now live somewhere with a plastic bag ban.
Our measures to protect the environment are based on our awareness of the value of the complexity of the natural world. We recognize the importance of conserving biological diversity—the rich variety of life on Earth: its ecosystems and species, and the ecological processes that support them.
This is a true victory in the salvation of living organisms and animals that continue to be plagued by garbage items on California’s beaches, according to the Los Angeles Times. There are now 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile of the world’s oceans, killing a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year. Worse still, there seems to be nothing we can do to clean it up.
These bags have been a direct threat to ocean wildlife, like the sea turtles that mistake them for edible jellyfish. One in three leatherback sea turtles have plastic in their stomach, most often a plastic bag, based on a study of over 370 autopsies.
Plastic bags make up as much as 25 percent, by weight, of all garbage flowing out to sea on the Los Angeles River according to a 2011 LA County report.
So how do we turn the tide at this juncture since Plastics, like diamonds…ARE FOREVER!
SIX MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT PLASIC
1. Plastics that go into curbside recycling bins get recycled.
FACT: Most do not.
2.Curb side collection significantly reduces the amount of plastic land-filled.
FACT: It does not. Less than 5% gets recycled worldwide.
3. Packaging resins are made from petroleum refinery waste.
FACT: Nearly all are made from virgin petroleum and natural gas.
4. Plastic recyclers promote its recyclability.
FACT: Plastic resin pellet producers pay for recycling ads to promote the sale of plastics. Most plastics can only be down-cycled, made into lesser-grade products. Plastics, whether made from virgin or recycled resin, pose health and environmental risks through leaching, abrasion, and off-gassing.
5.Using plastic containers conserves energy.
FACT: Most of the energy costs of plastic are incurred by the manufacturer. Virgin glass uses an equal amount of energy, while recycled glass uses far less than either virgin plastic or virgin glass.
6. Our choice is limited to recycling or wasting.
FACT: Many healthy alternatives to plastic exist already, and are readily available.