Summertime is pretty much one big YAY: fireworks, barbecues, trips to the beach. It’s the time of year we tend to appreciate the ocean the most — whether we’re surfing in it, taking a cruise on it or kicking back on the sand beside it.
But all of these awesome moments can come with a cost. We’re trashing our coasts and ocean with single-use plastic, whether it’s in the form of bags, bottles or packaging. These throwaway items may seem convenient in the short term, but we can make more thoughtful choices for our planet’s future.
Plastic Free July challenges people to avoid single-use plastic for one month. The idea started five years ago in Australia (where July is mid-winter) and has grown into a global movement. Participants can pledge to refuse all single-use plastic during the challenge, or scale it back to the “top four”: plastic bags, bottles, coffee lids and straws.
Today’s kickoff is especially symbolic for California. One year ago — on July 1, 2015 — the statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags was supposed to go into effect. But out-of-state plastic bag interests spent millions of dollars to force the issue onto the November 2016 ballot, delaying its implementation.
In the year since the law should have taken effect, Californians have used as many as 13 billion disposable plastic bags that the statewide ban would have prevented. Every bag could potentially make its way to the ocean.
The plastics industry knows that California is a leader in ocean conservation. Time and again, the state’s actions to keep our coast clean and protect marine wildlife has influenced other states — and the rest of the world — to follow suit.
This weekend, try enjoying your Fourth of July celebrations without single-use plastic.
Bring your own mug, water bottle and cutlery to the picnic. Request “no straw, please” when you order drinks. Tweet, Instagram or Facebook a selfie with a reusable bag and hashtag it #MyBag #MiBolsa.
And if you’re a registered voter in California, vote YES on Proposition 67 in November to uphold the statewide plastic bag ban. Say YES to a plastic-free ocean!
Read more about Monterey Bay Aquarium’s work to reduce ocean plastic pollution.
Featured image: Students in the Young Women in Science program practice yoga before their beach cleanup on Monterey.