santa cruz environment plastic
September 2019

Protecting Our Bay

County Scoop: September 2019

By Zach Friend, County Supervisor

It’s hard to imagine something more interconnected to our county than the Monterey Bay. Over the last few decades our local community has worked on preservation efforts that stopped offshore drilling efforts, ensured the creation of the Sanctuary and now are working to reduce plastic waste. 

Zach Friend Santa Cruz County Supervisor

Plastic waste, in particular single-use plastics, are particularly problematic for our local marine ecosystem. Recently a joint study by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute found significant amounts of micro plastic particles from the ocean surface to the seafloor.

These plastics threaten marine life and the overall marine ecosystem. Our County has led on environmental efforts in the past and the reduction of single-use plastics are no different. From leading on the single-use plastic bag ban (which became state law), plastic and polystyrene to-go containers to now the elimination of single-use plastic toiletries in the hotel industry (which is appearing that it will become state law as well) the County has set the stage for important, yet practical, environmental changes. 

santa cruz environment plastic
Plastic is killing us. The County is taking steps to help.

With the collapse of the global recycling market relying just on recycling alone won’t be enough. As a result, the Board of Supervisors recently moved to reduce single-use plastics even more. Here is a list of some of the proposals the Board is working on implementing in the coming months. 

  • Prohibiting the sale and purchase of single-use plastic water bottles at County-sponsored events
  • Plan/fund the installation of hydration stations at County facilities and parks
  • Implement a charge (with work to standardize this across the cities and the County) for single-use cups at unincorporated businesses
  • Look to going to the voters to ask that these single-use fees (for bags and cups) be directed to local environmental clean-up purposes
  • Require all providers of contact lenses to provide free recycling services (most manufacturers offer free take back services)
  • Encourage state legislators to work with the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers to install microfiber filters in washing machines
  • Update Green Schools curriculum to include additional plastic pollution topics
  • Increase funding for public education and outreach on plastic pollution topics

According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, without changes to our current habits the amount of plastic in the ocean will double in the next six years. The equivalent of a truckload of plastic is dumped into our oceans every minute. So we know more needs to be done. With your partnership our community will continue to show the way.

As always, I appreciate hearing your thoughts. Feel free to contact me at 454-2200 or visit me during my open office hours in Aptos, La Selva, Corralitos and Watsonville.

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