Santa Barbara City Council members, Grant House and Cathy Murillo, and community activist, Kathi King, joined the students and voiced their support for the program.
The UCSB-Plastic Pollution Coalition collaborated with several UCSB administrative entities, including Housing and Residential Services, to host the First Annual Day Without A Bag. Students were able to raise over $5,000 in order to make the event a reality. The unprecedented show of support and collaboration garnered the attention of the Santa Barbara City Council and the Community Environmental Council.
Council member Grant House spoke passionately about the recent vote to draft a Bag Ban Ordinance for the City of Santa Barbara. BEACON, the Beach Erosion Authority for Clean Oceans and Nourishment, of which House is a member, is responsible for drafting the ordinance. BEACON will also take the lead on conducting a regional Environmental Impact Report, which will open the doors for all member cities to pass bans more easily. At the event, House stated his support for the UCSB project and said, “We have to listen to these kids!”
In recent years, plastic pollution has become a hot topic for cities and nations throughout the globe. The debate of environmental health over convenience has found its way into courtrooms and city halls across the United States. Currently, over 20 cities in California have passed a ban on plastic bags. Skeptics have questioned whether a legally enforced ban on plastic bags is the appropriate role of government.
Council member Cathy Murrillo stated, “Someone challenged me, [and said] this isn’t something the government should be doing…well who then?” Many have suggested enacting a stronger voluntary program, to which Community Environmental Council representative, Kathi King, said voluntary programs have only achieved “limited success”.
In a state bordered by one of the most famous and breathtakingly beautiful coastlines in the world, taking steps towards preserving the health of our oceans seems the only natural and logical thing to do. Though the issue of plastic bag pollution may seem trivial to some, it is a very important piece to a larger problem. Students at UCSB are taking an active role in shaping their future and the future of their children, by raising awareness of this issue and sending the message that a healthy planet is worth much more than a momentary convenience.
As King stated, “a free bag is not a free bag.” The students at UCSB realize this. Perhaps, it is time for lawmakers to realize this as well.