Salinas Considering Ban on Plastic Bags

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Last week, a group of Salinas residents gathered at the Sherwood Village senior apartment complex to watch a film and engage in discussion about the possibility of a plastic bag ban in Salinas. Sponsored by the Salinas Action Group for our Environment (SAGE), the event was part of their monthly “Always Free Everything Green Wednesday” program, held on the fourth Wednesday of every month. Bag It, which chronicles one man's attempt to live a life with less plastic, provided astounding details about the environmental and physical health risks of plastic. While most of us may know that plastic bags will remain in our environment for many, many years, the health risk that comes with using products containing phtalates and Bisphenol-A (BPA) may be less well known.

Check out the intro to the movie:

The film, which gives information on Styrofoam and plastic bag bans throughout the world, was followed by a presentation by the Monterey Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation about the local dangers of plastic bags and Styrofoam. There was also a presentation, designed and presented by students from Seaside High School and CSU Monterey Bay, on the littering problem in the city of Marina. The two presentations echoed the film’s message about the importance in making individual and community-wide changes in order to support the health of our community and environment.

The program concluded with a panel presentation that included local leaders in environmental activism, owners of “green” business products and Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue. Panelists gave their reactions to the film and presentation and some discussed their opinions about a plastic bag ban in Salinas. Mayor Donohue expressed the importance of making a decision through consensus in order to include businesses, city leaders and residents of Salinas in the decision-making process. He mentioned that a presentation to City Council must be simple and straightforward. According to Donohue, because of Salinas’ influence within the Salinas Valley, a plastic bag ban in the city can have significant impact in the County. Adopting a ban of plastic bags and even Styrofoam could mean that other Salinas Valley towns may follow suit. With Americans using an average of 800 pounds of plastic each year, having all Monterey County residents reduce their consumption of plastic through city-wide bans may help reduce further plastic contamination.

Throughout the program, the phrase “preaching to the choir” was mentioned by presenters and audience alike. One member felt that there were few or no people present from our local minority communities, and noted the importance of their presence in order to educate all communities about the importance of the issue. While the concern was not specifically addressed, it will be important for environmental and government leaders to present this information to the general public at large. With an average of 3,700 babies born in Salinas every year, families and pregnant mothers should have access to information about how exposure to plastic products may harm their children.

SAGE’s next  “Always Free Everything Green Wednesday” program will be February 23rd 6pm-9pm at theSherwood Village Community Room.

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About Gabriela López Chávez

I have been a long-time resident of Monterey County, moving from the Imperial Valley as a child. During my years in Monterey County, I have lived in South County, the Monterey Peninsula and now, Salinas. I graduated from CSU Monterey Bay and will be completing my graduate degree from San Jose State University in 2011. Although health issues have always been important to me, they have become my primary focus since my daughter was born. Understanding how the health of our community affects our future generations is an important issue to me, as is how communities challenge inequalities and oppression to improve lives. Through this blog, I hope I’m able to provide a different perspective of what happens in the community of Salinas, and how, despite public perceptions of a city overtaken by violence, we are a strong and resilient community.

Comments (2)

  1. Devika says:

    Sounds like a great effort! Bag it indeed!
    I have also read many of your other posts and was especially interested in the one you wrote about methyl iodide – I work for the non-profit Pesticide Action Network, one of the members of the coalition that is spearheading the campaign against this chemical, and I was wondering if you would be interested in helping us out with a ‘guest blog’ on our website or by collaborating in any other way?

    Please contact me at (650) 644 6142 or at
    Thank you very much and keep these great posts coming!

  2. Lee Colin says:

    Thank you for posting this and your passion to make Salinas a healthy and safe place to live. I am the leader of SAGE. We are a recently formed action group and are heavily reaching out to the Latino community, in fact the March program’s Keynote Speaker will be Councilmember Sanchez followed by Patrick Matthews from Salinas Valley Waste and Doug Kenyon from the Salinas Recycling Center. We will be teaching the basics of sustainable living at the event that will provide information about recycling and other big steps that can be taken to improve the quality of life in Salinas. We are hoping that you will be on the steering committee which will meet next at 6PM on the second Wednesday of March. I can be reached at 408-688-1210.