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.