Rise Above Plastics, San Diego

Surfrider Foundation to observe Rise Against Plastics day

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    The Surfrider Foundation is asking San Diegans to pledge to reuse plastic bags and bottles

    If asked, could you go without plastic bags or bottles? Next week, one local group will put you to the test.

    The Surfrider Foundation will commemorate the first ever Rise Above Plastics Day. On June 30, volunteers will be asking San Diegans to pledge to reuse plastic bags and bottles.

    Volunteers will be waving signs on busy street corners and handing out high quality reusable grocery/beach bags at Patagonia in Cardiff and Ocean Beach People’s Organic Food Market, from 4 – 6 p.m.

    The group wants to raise awareness about environmental problems connected to using single-use plastics, like plastic bags and plastic bottles. Thousands of marine animals die as a result of plastic litter.

    Bill Hickman, Surfrider coordinator for San Diego County, says once plastic gets into the storm drain system it washes out to sea.

    Plastic accounts for more than 75 percent of the trash collected by Surfrider clean up crews, Hickman said. He added the best way to stop plastic from getting to ocean is by picking up at the beach.

    "When you leave the beach, take some extra trash with you," said Hickman.

    Petroleum-based plastic is not biodegradable, when it makes its way to the ocean it does not decompose. Hickman says 80 percent of the trash in the ocean is land-based and it adds to the North Pacific Gyre, also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

    It's an area of the ocean where all the plastic in the North Pacific Ocean comes to rest.

    The patch is estimated to be twice the size of Texas and goes down 20 to 30 feet deep. It is filled with plastic bags, bottles, wrappers and other pieces of trash.

    "It's like a plastic soup," said Hickman.

    A bill heading through the California Senate would ban single-use bags at large grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores. If Assembly Bill 1998 were approved, stores would no longer be able to use plastic bags. Stores would also be required to charge customers for paper bags; the money would go toward a clean up fund.

    The City and County of San Francisco already bans stores from handing out plastic bags.