Plastic Free July!

  • Posted on 7 July 2023
  • By Hoiyin Ip
It’s Plastic Free July! 
Perhaps the biggest local plastic news of the month so far is that LAX banned the sale of single-use plastic water bottles. Hotels can do this too. Let’s go push our Cities and Counties for the ban.
In fact, we’re gearing up for more actions at the City of Irvine. On June 27, City Council approved a set of Climate Action and Adaptation Plan measures that include banning the sale of some plastic products and the use in parks. We need to make sure the ordinances will be adequate and timely to address the worsening crisis of plastic pollution, public health and environmental injustice.
Local actions are the foundation for statewide progress. With 48 State Senators and Assemblymembers in the chapter area, in-district lobbying for upcoming hearings is simply everyday action for many of us while we remind each other to walk the talk in our daily life to build a deeply felt movement. Here are a few suggested personal actions related to some of our current support bills.  
  1. AB 1628 (McKinnor) Microfiber Filtration would require that all new washing machines sold contain a microfiber filtration system - microfibers from synthetic textiles are one of the most prevalent types of microplastic. Please always try to buy clothing that is made of 100% natural fibers, and check out the laundry tips in our previous article
  2. AB 610 (Holden) Free Student Transit Passes would increase the use of transit, and decrease vehicle miles traveled. We all need to drive less. Tire wear particles are a major source of microplastics, threatening human and wildlife health through countless pathways.  
  3. SB 499 (Menjivar) School Extreme Heat Action Plan would reduce heat islands by requiring schoolsites to replace heat-absorbing surfaces, such as replacing plastic grass with natural grass and other natural systems. Please educate your friends on why plastic grass is harmful to the environment with reasons in Sierra Club California’s resolution opposing all use of synthetic turf.
  4. SB 244 (Eggman) Right to Repair Act would require consumer electronics manufacturers to provide replacement parts, diagnostic information, and service guides to consumers and third-party repair businesses. This would limit the need to extract more natural resources for new products, reduce waste including plastic parts and packaging. Please use your devices as long as you can, prioritize repair and buy refurbished. 
  5. SB 728 (Limón) Plastic Gift Cards would ban the sale and distribution of plastic gift cards by 2027. Please choose non-plastic gift cards.   
And here are a few other personal actions to take as our continued efforts related to our past successes. 
  1. Bring your own cups to coffee shops and events. Some coffee shops including Starbucks give you a 10-cent discount for bringing your own cup. (Our success: AB 619 bring your own cups and containers.)
  2. When ordering takeout to eat at home, tell the restaurants and the ordering services that you’d skip the stuff, like utensils, condiment packets and other foodware accessories. (Our successes: AB 1884 plastic straws on request, and AB 1276 foodware accessories on request.)
  3. Quit Smoking. Cigarette butts and disposable liquid cartridges of e-cigarettes are single use plastics - see data on plastic pollution, public health and social injustice related to tobacco products. (Our successes: SB 8 smoking ban in state parks, SB 793 and Prop 31 flavored tobacco products ban.)
  4. Avoid single-use decorations, such as balloons which can do a variety of harms. In February, we successfully contributed to Laguna Beach’s ban of single-use balloons. Next, state parks?

Want more ideas? Come to the Sierra Club Plastic Free July Storytelling Contest on July 31. Let’s exchange stories with Sierrans in other states, learn from each other, and move from siloed campaigns to campaigns under one big tent. Together, we are defending environmental justice, phasing out oil wells, pushing divestment from fossil fuel and tobacco industries, working on political will and positive press, promoting corporate social responsibility, hosting sustainable events with unusual partners, etc. Please see the event page for more information.  

Image Courtesy of Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs

Hoiyin Ip is the co-chair of Sierra Club California Zero Waste Committee.

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