Saturday, May 14, 2011

Earth Day Success!

Earth Day in Ojai
Bob Davidson pictured as Bag Monster

Earth Day in Ventura
Sadie Iverson pictured as Bag Monster

Earth Day in Ojai
Bob Davidson pictured as Bag Monster

Thanks to all who came out and stopped by the booth! Hope to see you at the 4th of July Street Fair!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Truth

"Out of sight should not mean out of mind. The plastic bags we use, then cast aside, do not simply disappear, nor do they get digested by wildlife ... They clog our landfills, pollute our oceans, and use up precious energy to manufacture. How much easier to simply carry reusable bags with you? It’s worked for Collingwood, New Zealand, one of the first towns in the world to go bag-less—it’s time for it to work here, too."

Well said Lee! Go here for the full article.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Santa Barbara Update

Post written by Bob Davidson.

On April 19, 2011, I attended the Santa Barbara Ordinance Committee hearing devoted to Single Use Plastic Bags. After hearing an extensive report and Power Point presentation by by its Environmental Services Division the committee voted 2 to 1 to recommend to the City Council that no further action be taken on this issue at this time. 

This means that Santa Barbara will only continue its current approach of having staff promote reusable bags through out the county in its "Where's Your Bag" program. The other 3 options offered by staff were:
  1. Make the the current program mandatory for retailers.
  2. Put up to the voters whether or not to have a voter approved fee on paper and/or plastic bags.
  3. Enact an ordinance to prohibit the distribution of single-use plastic bags and impose a fee on single-use paper bags.

One of the members was opposed to anything except preserving the status quo. He read from a script that was probably prepared by the "Save the Bag Coalition". Chairman House, was all in favor of an ordinance (probably the last option). The swing vote, Councilman Rowse, recognizes the problems with single-use plastic but did not feel local ordinances are the solution because of the cost of preparing and defending them in court. He feels that plastic bags are only one part of a larger plastic pollution problem. When I spoke with him after the hearing he said he favors a statewide solution.

I am convinced that at present our current course of action is the appropriate one. That is:
  1. Wait and see what the California Supreme Court decides in the Manhattan Beach case and then plan our next move and
  2. Continue to educate retailers and the public about the advantages of reusable bags and in the process build a coalition of supporters who can lobby our representatives when the time is right. In the mean time we should do all we can to push for a state wide law that will achieve our goals.
Bob Davidson is the committee head of the Rise Above Plastics campaign in Ventura County.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Thanks for stopping by Ventura's Rise Above Plastics Campaign site! We are excited to take part in the effort to reduce the amount of single-use plastics by educating the local community and taking initiatives in our own lives to leave a smaller footprint.

So why do we care about plastics? After all, they have been around many years and everybody uses them, right? Plus, can't we recycle them at those little drop off boxes at grocery stores? Sort of...

Although it may be possible to recycle some plastics, many reasons contribute to the fact that it just doesn't happen:
  • Need to segregate different plastic types
  • Lack of redemption value
  • Lack of recycling and/or remanufacturing facilities
  • Lack of market for remanufactured products
  • cost (may cost more to re-manufacture and recycle than to make new product)

In fact, the EPA estimates that only 0.5 - 3 percent of plastic bags actually get recycled! So what happens to all of those other plastics? You got it...landfills, beaches, oceans, etc. Plastics do not biodegrade, however they do photo degrade. The UV rays from the sun cause them to break down into small pieces, often mistaken by marine life for food. When they break down a stew of toxic chemicals is released with names you can't even pronounce! With the amount of plastics that are used worldwide you can imagine the impact that this has on the ecosystem. 

The great thing about humans is that we have the power to incite change. The difficult part in this equation is changing lifelong habits. So here is a short list of the why, followed by simple things you can do today:

5 reasons to break the plastic-bag habit

1) Plastic bags take 1,000 years to break down in a landfill. Every bag you've ever tossed is still around somewhere. Most plastic bags are made from polyethylene, which is made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource. Petroleum-based products are not biodegradable, meaning they won't decompose over time. Instead, the bags photodegrade, breaking down into small toxic particles that contaminate soil and water, and end up in the food chain when animals ingest them.

2) They kill animals . In the ocean, floating bags look like tasty jellyfish to hungry marine creatures. Every year, more than 1 million birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die from eating or getting entangled in plastic, according to the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation in New Hampshire.

3) They pollute the water and land. Worldwide, an estimated 4 billion bags each year end up as litter, floating above freeways and clogging waterways. Tied end to end, the bags could circle the Earth 63 times.

4) The handles on canvas bags don't break and the bottoms don't split open, like plastic bags can, so you don't have to worry about that bottle of Sonoma-Cutrer you just splurged on shattering all over the driveway.

5) You look like a bag lady with all those plastic bags dangling from your arms. Think of how chic you'd look toting groceries in a stylish canvas bag.

5 ways to help you break the habit

1) Start with a canvas bag. Canvas bags make a statement, not just that you're concerned about the environment but also that you haven't lost your sense of humor about it. Get one that says, "My Reusable Bag Makes Me Better Than You" here, or a "Don't Feed The Bag Monster" bag from Chico Bags here.

2) Just say "no" to your bagger. Tell him or her that you won't need a bag at all if you're only buying a few items, or if you have too much to carry out in your arms, tell the bagger it's OK to load up the bags you're using.

3) Take the Rise Above Plastics Pledge to commit to reducing the amount of single-use plastics in your life.

4) Recycle the plastic bags you have in your house at your grocery store. The bags can be converted into new bags or plastic lumber. In the U.S., only about 2 percent of plastic grocery bags are ever recycled.

5) Talk about it. Tell your friends you've traded plastic for canvas and are reusing your Ziplocs, or better yet invested in reusable sandwich bags.

The above are just a few examples of how small changes can make a big impact. So pack your reusable bag, recycle the plastics that you already have, and help reduce the 3,960,000 tons of plastic bags, sacks and wraps that are produced every year!

For more information on the impact of plastics and how you can help out:

1. Facts About the Plastic Bag Pandemic,,, 4/10/11.
2. Recycle Plastic Bags,,, 4/10/11.