May 9, 2012

Styrofaom Hits Santa Cruz Beaches from 'Over the Hill'

A letter to the Editor of the Mercury News
by Laura Kasa, Executive Director of Save Our Shores

Thank you for May 1st editorial in the Mercury News entitled Silicon Valley must do its part to reduce plastic in oceans.

Save Our Shores agrees with the writer that we each must care about plastics in our ocean if we want our environment, climate, and future generations to live in a properly functioning world.

The issue of plastic pollution, including cleaning up the mess, and advocating for bans on Styrofoam and single-use plastic bags, is not just an issue for coastal towns to consider. Inland areas such as San Jose, Silicon Valley, San Mateo, Palo Alto and so on must also take steps to decrease plastic pollution in the ocean. Styrofoam take-out containers and single-use plastic bags very often become litter, winding up in streams and rivers that feed into our oceans and bays.

This debris wreaks havoc in our marine environment, not to mention litters our highways, gets stuck in trees, and constantly washes down the storm drains. Save Our Shores is based in Santa Cruz and has a strong history of advocating for measures to stop pollution in our ocean and watershed. But because the beaches of Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay are also the beaches for San Jose and Silicon Valley, stewardship of our area's beaches must come from 'over the hill', as well.

Save Our Shores' role is to keep these beaches clean by conducting 250 cleanups a year. Our thousands of volunteers collect data at each cleanup and what we find is that 72% of the trash recovered is some form of plastic.

Over the past five years, at SOS cleanups alone, we have collected 46,000 pieces of Styrofoam - and Santa Cruz County has had a Styrofoam ban in effect for some time now! This is exactly why we need cities like San Jose to implement their own ban on Styrofoam take-out containers.

I was at the Santa Clara County commission meeting this week. Commissioner Kniss is thrilled that her jurisdiction will finally be moving forward on this important issue. Kniss said she was happy to hear about the success that the Styrofoam ban in Santa Cruz County.

The commission recommended to the board to move forward with approval of a Styrofoam ban for Santa Clara County. They will be hearing the issue on May 22nd.

Save Our Shores Members, volunteers, Stewards, supporters and fellow ocean advocates hope the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors will pass a swift ban on Styrofoam, setting the precedent that San Jose and other cities will follow.

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