“Every year in California, we use 11.9 billion bags,” said Lupita Perez, intern with CALPIRG at UCSB. “Nothing that we use for five minutes should pollute the ocean for hundreds of years.”
Plastic pollution like single-use bags affects 267 species every year. One of those animals is the Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle. These species can consume hundreds of jellyfish each day, and easily mistake plastic bags for their favorite food. In fact, one-third of adult turtles have ingested plastic, according to a recent report by the Turtle Island Restoration Network. Pacific Leatherback Sea turtles have declined 95% in the last two decades. “Last year, over 70,000 single-use plastic bags were found on our California beaches by volunteers in one day” said student members from the Coastal Fund. “Our consumption of single-use plastics is a growing problem that must be addressed now, and we urge our elected officials to do so.”
100 small businesses including over a dozen local grocers have signed on to ban plastic bags in 72 cities. “As a small business owner I think that going reusable is not a revolutionary concept and it is about time Santa Barbara City jumps on board,” said Jazmin Lopez. Fourteen municipalities in California have banned plastic bags and 29 more bans are in motion.
“The first step toward a solution,” said Lopez, “is to stop the flow of plastic into our ocean by banning plastic bags and going reusable.”