April 25, 2012

City of Watsonville Passes Plastic Bag Ban - to Take Effect in Three Months!

Save Our Shores is happily celebrating the swift decision by the Watsonville City Council last night to enact a ban on single-use plastic bags!

Watsonville City staff handed out colorful reusable bags to all Councilmembers, as well as everyone in attendance during public comment.

Save Our Shores’ Executive Director Laura Kasa made the last public comment in support of the ban, noting that less than 5% of plastic bags are ever recycled. She shared with the Council that both the Shoreway Environmental Center and the Sunnyvale Materials Recovery Center do not even accept plastic bags into their recycling centers. Kasa also explained that Save Our Shores cleanups have recovered 34,000 plastic bags since data collection began in the summer of 2007.

Kasa concluded her public comment by stating, “A ban on plastic bags will end the over 8,000 plastic bags a year that pollute our local environment.”

In a surprising turn of events following Kasa’s public comment, Watsonville Mayor Eduardo Montesino amended the ordinance to go into effect in three months time, rather than the standard six.

Each of the City Councilmembers, except Councilmember Bilicich, voted in favor of the ban. There were no public comments in opposition.

Councilmember Felipe Hernandez bought his green reusable bag that he picked up at the Watsonville Earth Day festival to reinforce that a fee on paper bags is a good deterrent that will help people to remember their reusable bags.  Said Hernandez, “I was on a cleanup recently where I picked up so many plastic bags I was amazed. It was almost as many as the number of cigarette butts I collected”. 

“This (ban) is a great idea. Plastic is awful.  It’s about time we do something about it,” said Councilmember Oscar Rios. “It’s just a matter of time for people to get used to the change, and when we have to pay 10 cents to bag a few items, we’ll start remembering to bring our own bags.”

Kasa said , “Last week, Save Our Shores went out to Safeway locations and found that out of the 450 shoppers we surveyed, only 83 were using paper bags, 203 were using reusable bags and 164 were using no bag at all. This means over 80% of shoppers changed their behavior toward reusable bag use since the Santa Cruz County ban was implemented just one month ago.”

Save Our Shores believes it takes action, local leaders, and citizen support to protect the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. We thank our Supporters, Stewards, volunteers, and fellow ocean advocates for joining us on the quest for cleaner, greener communities. 
Keep up the great work!

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