September 1, 2011

Save Our Shores Support a Statewide Ban on Styrofoam

“Capitola is a local example that bans on Styrofoam work”

We found it surprising and disappointing that the article, “California May Be First State To Ban Styrofoam Containers”, was such a negative view of the potential new state policy. Here on the Central Coast we’ve had such success with cutting down on Styrofoam litter since local bans have been put in place; since the ban in Capitola in 2007, Save Our Shores has documented a 50% decrease in the amount of Styrofoam take out containers in our beach cleanups. Restaurants and customers adapted well to the ban. No restaurant closed due to having to switch to environmentally friendly food containers, no customers decided to travel to some ban-free town to eat so that they could take their leftovers home in a Styrofoam container. The reality is there are alternatives to Styrofoam that are readily available, reasonable in cost and more practical (it’s not safe to heat Styrofoam in the microwave as it leaches the toxins into the food – how inconvenient is that?!).

By living in an ocean community, we are responsible for making sure we have a positive impact on our environment in order to ensure our community maintains strong environmental, human and economic health. Who wants Capitola Beach littered with small pieces of Styrofoam which may have come from foam cups, bowls or plates that were brought to the beach for a picnic? So as the Mayor of Capitola, I decided it was time to take the next step and propose a ban on all Styrofoam products sold within the city. Laura Kasa of SOS joined me today as we met with over 20 businesses to discuss the impact the ban would have on them. We visited Rite-Aid, Bevmo, Savemart, Nob Hill, CVS, FedEx, and others and received a positive response from every store manager we met. They all nodded in agreement, that it made sense to expand the ordinance from just take out containers to the retail products they sold in their stores. More than one store manager said, “Great, I hate Styrofoam, I’m happy to get it out of my store”.
Based on this information gathering, we find it absurd that the state would have a hard time passing a ban on just Styrofoam take out containers that won’t even go into effect until 2016. How can it be that 5 years is not enough time for anywhere in this state to phase out this harmful material? As Capitola shows, the ban did work, it was possible, it was not a difficult transition, and it is leading them to moving forward on expanding it and they are getting positive feedback from businesses about it.

The state should be looking at Capitola and the entire county of Santa Cruz which is free of Styrofoam take out containers, as real life examples that these bans work and it’s the right thing to do for all of California. I’m asking that we all take one minute this week and sign a letter of support to the California Assembly by Friday. We need individuals but we also really need restaurants to send in letters of support.

Dennis Norton, Mayor of Capitola

Laura Jean Kasa, Executive Director, Save Our Shores

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