Millions of pounds of trash find their way into our oceans every day. Urban runoff carries the detritus of daily life – whether it's carelessly discarded bottle tops or potato chip bags – directly to the shores. From abandoned fishing gear to plastic bags, this trash turns pristine waters throughout the world into garbage dumps.
Heal the Bay has led the fight to eliminate the scourge of single-use plastic bags from our seas and other public spaces. Over the past five years, we have led the charge to enact single-use bag bans throughout Los Angeles County, from Santa Monica to Glendale, Long Beach to Pasadena.
Now we are turning our attention to the most populous city in the county: Los Angeles. It's estimated that 2.33 billion single-use plastic carryout bags and 400 million single-use paper bags are used annually in L.A. With less than 5% of those bags being recycled, the vast majority wind up gobbling up precious landfill, clogging storm drains or fouling our oceans.
The city's Board of Public Works voted unanimously last month to approve a report urging the mayor and city council to adopt a citywide ban on single-use carryout bags. It also requested a draft ordinance from the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office.
Heal the Bay needs your help to make sure that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the city council enact this much-needed action to end the fiscal and environmental waste created by single-use plastic bags. Please let them know that protecting our oceans, watersheds and local economies are important to you.
To let the Mayor of Los Angeles know you value protecting marine life from choking or being entangled by plastic bags, and the economic benefit of ridding our communities and beaches of an obvious eyesore, as well as the taxpayer burden of cleanup. Use the sample below to emailMayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
November XX, 2011
The Honorable Mayor Villaraigosa 200 North Spring Street Los Angeles, CA 90012-3239 Via Fax: (213) 978-0650
RE: SUPPORT – Single-use Bag Ban
Dear Mayor Villaraigosa:
I write to urge your support of a single-use bag ban as soon as possible in the City of Los Angeles. The action would complement your recent successes to green Los Angeles, such as passage of the Low Impact Development Ordinance and the sewer rate increase. The Board of Public Works recently unanimously voted to move forward a proposal to ban single-use bags in the City of Los Angeles, and a Council motion called for the same policy. You have been an effective champion of this issue statewide, and now is the time for Los Angeles to set an example for the entire nation.
The environmental and economic impacts of single-use bag pollution in inland and coastal communities throughout our City are devastating. Californians use an estimated 12 billion single-use plastic bags every year. The City of San Francisco estimated that to clean up, recycle, and landfill plastic bags costs the city 17 cents per bag. This figure does not include all of the energy costs associated with producing single-use bags, or the negative environmental, economic and public health costs associated with single-use bag litter.
We cannot recycle our way out of this problem. Despite efforts to expand recycling programs, less than 5% of single-use plastic bags are currently being recycled. The rest of these bags end up in our landfills or as litter, clogging stormdrain systems, and making their way to our waterways and ocean. The Los Angeles River you are fighting so hard to revitalize is lined with plastic bag-filled willows after a major rain. Plastic lasts for hundreds of years in our environment and may never biodegrade in the ocean. As a result, it poses a persistent threat to wildlife. Paper bag production contributes to deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and waterborne wastes from the pulping and paper making process.
Los Angeles County, Long Beach, Calabasas, Santa Monica, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County, Marin County, Fairfax, and Palo Alto have banned plastic bags and dozens of other cities in California are considering this approach. If the City moves forward with a ban, the State will soon follow.
The City of Los Angeles has a critical role to play in becoming a true leader in eliminating single-use bag waste and preventing the proliferation of plastic pollution in our communities. Thus we urge you to lead the effort to move forward a single-use bag ban expeditiously in the City of Los Angeles to help fulfill your goal of the cleanest, greenest big city in the nation.
Sincerely, YOUR NAME
Thank you for helping us bring the environment to life for the people of Los Angeles.