Plastic Free July!

For over a year ECP Environmental Justice has been advocating that the City of El Cerrito ban plastic and non-compostable single-use food- and beverage ware through our research, presentations to the El Cerrito Environmental Quality Committee, conversations with residents, speaking at City Council meetings, showing a film about plastic, and our presence at events like Off the Grid and World One 4th of July Festivals. After one year of speaking up and out, City staff are only proposing to ban plastic straws and stirrers.
Meanwhile cities around us, including Richmond, Alameda, and Berkeley have instituted new foodware and litter ordinances that have not only banned single use plastic food and beverage-ware, and non-compostables, some have instituted mandatory charges of as much as 25¢ a cup for a take out beverage, thereby encouraging people to bring their own cups. Palo Alto very recently banned plastic produce bags in addition to plastic straws, stirrers, and utensils, and produce and farmers’ markets will have to replace plastic bags with compostable ones or none at all.  Watsonville just banned plastic carryout bags, and disposable plastic foodware from all restaurants.

To understand how much plastic enters our lifestream, some of us tracked our plastic lifestream for 31 days and it was an eye-opener about how many items used in a normal daily life include 1-time use plastic. For example, a box of Kleenex has a plastic piece around the opening of the box, presumably to protect the tissue. Buying a package of batteries involves disposing of hard-to-open hard plastic packaging. The toilet paper you buy probably comes wrapped in plastic. The sparkling water metal bottle cap has a small disc of plastic in it. To say nothing about plastic straws or cups from your favorite To Go beverage shop. The list is much longer than we anticipated.

One cannot escape the almost daily news about the overwhelming, ubiquitous amount of plastic pollution everywhere around the globe. This pollution cannot be recycled. We cannot “throw plastic away” because there is NO AWAY. Plastic is toxic to the environment and all life.

El Cerrito used to be known as a green city. We need your support to ban toxic plastic from our city.

This is why we are encouraging everyone to ban plastic from your life to the best of your ability during the month of July. If you have children, ask them to help you track the plastic that comes through your life. If you are thinking about buying an item, be it food or a non-food item, reconsider whether you really need it or can get it or an alternative without plastic packaging around it.

Come by our Booth 54-55 at the 4th of July free WorldOne Festival at Cerrito Vista Park, say “Hi” and learn how to make healthy changes in your life and work.  We’ll share our Plastic Lifestream spreadsheet template with you. Check out the games we have, take our Plastics Quiz, see our samples of alternatives to plastic that can be purchased locally, and pledge to take action to eliminate plastic from your life.

Learn about our campaign to have El Cerrito sign on to theClimate Emergency Resolution with other Bay Area cities.

We ask you to call your State representatives and tell them to support California SB 54 and its companion AB 1080. As reported in the Santa Monica Daily Press SB 54 requires that all single-use packaging and products be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2030. Senate Bill 54 would also require California to recycle or divert 75 percent of single-use materials. The state currently recycles just 15 percent of single-use plastics.

Join the global Plastic Free July Pledge started by fellow concerned humans in Australia. Together, we can make a difference in reducing plastic pollution!

With gratitude,
Barbara Chan
Convener, Environmental Justice Committee
El Cerrito Progressives
Leaders of the Campaign to Ban Plastic in El Cerrito


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