This past Monday, my mother drove me up to Sacramento to raise awareness for Ocean’s Day with fellow senators and assemblymen of California. Members of Heal the Bay, including Kirsten James who is Heal the Bay’s water quality director, Surfrider Foundation, and students of Scripps Institute of Oceanography were all there to learn as well as teach what they knew to legislatures that were either for or against a statewide plastic bag ban. I met with both Republicans and Democrats that shared their view on the environmental crisis at hand. Assembly member Julia Brownley of Santa Monica was all for the bag ban, wishing for as much environmental protection as California would allow. She passionately wants to protect our oceans as much as we do and vehemently agreed on the bag ban. She was extremely supportive in our efforts for conservation and was pleased to meet with us as we were with her. Assembly member Jim Silva of Huntington Beach was not as supportive and did not wish for a statewide bag ban as he did not feel the need for it at this time. Senator Ted Lieu of Redondo Beach, soon to be representing Santa Monica’s district, was for it as well, and supportive of our other efforts to conserve the environment. Senator Tom Harman seemed on the fence over the subject, as he did not see the need to ban something that can be easily cleaned up on beaches if need be, although he did vote yes on the polystyrene ban.
Overall, we were able to get our message across over why we need this ban and how it could affect the economy, the population of California, and the wildlife. Some senators and assemblymen proved to be more supportive then the others, but they all heard us out and posed questions. Those that were not in favor of a statewide ban did support a municipality by municipality effort to ban the bags, however some were not ready for the official ban as a whole state. The trip was a whole was eye opening and educational, as the politicians depicted exactly how these events play out everyday. Hopefully the ban will be successful and California can be the first and most environmentally aware state of the fifty so far.