Many cities across California are now banning the use of “single use carryout plastic bags” due to various environmental, economic, and health concerns. Plastic bag manufacturers are now pursuing various loopholes and green washing techniques in the bag ban laws as means to continue the use of their environment destroying chemically derived plastic bags. One example of this is in the Los Angeles County Bag Ban. Specific wording in the law defines “reusable” bags as being over 2.25 millimeters thick and capable of enduring at least 125 uses including withholding 22 pounds over a distance of 175 feet each use. While it is yet unclear whether these “reusable” plastic bags can withstand those conditions, most stores in the city of Los Angeles have satisfied the “single use plastic carryout bag ban” by providing their customers with these so called “reusable” bags. These range from anywhere between free to 15 cents. We realized that they most commonly sold for 10 cents each, putting them on par with the paper bags that were supposed to replace them, however, due to the wording in the law, which was intended to assist people in making them more environmentally minded, allows stores to provide customers with reusable bags for free. This was added in as a measure to try and assist, but it is now backfiring as the plastics industry and stores are now taking advantage of this loophole. Now instead of removing plastic bags, we have adapted to thicker plastic bags, which might be able to endure more uses but have even greater environmental consequences than the notorious thin, flimsy single use plastic bags. These bags are not “eco-friendly” as the plastic companies are making them out to be. These bags are just as harmful if not even worse on our environment and marine life. We are trying to advocate grocery store shoppers to always bring cloth, canvas, or other durable reusable bags and refuse the “eco-friendly” thicker plastic and also urge the city to close this loophole.
One way that Team Marine accomplishes reaching out to all the people that we do is by making eco-art that stands out and captures attention. With an upcoming event on February 8th called the Green Valentine’s Festival (you’ll hear more about this later) we go through a series of procedures to ensure that we are fully prepared to display our art at the event. You may remember our “Rethink” sign made up entirely of around 10,000 bottle caps! We have also constructed a variety of marine mammals out of bottle caps such as: octopi, starfish, jellyfish, dolphins, crabs, and clams. However throughout the years these creations (as well as our “Rethink” sign) have been slightly worn down, so this year’s team marine is going through the process of repairing, reattaching, and in some cases completely reconstructing these creatures. With the great help of Mr. Kay’s Marine Biology class along with our own members, on the 17th of January we organized an event to paper mache the “Rethink” sign and help fix our bottle cap animals. Although there was still much to be done afterwards, we got a great portion of the work done that day! With our members dedicating their time daily to getting this done we are sure to make the eco-art new and improved before we go to exhibit it at the Green Valentine’s Festival!
On New Year’s Day 2014, we had our annual recycling event at the Rose Bowl parade in Pasadena. We call this parade the gold mine of recyclables because every person has a drink or more with them. Unfortunately, we did come across some difficulties this year and almost couldn’t make it. Our usual partner school decided they weren’t going this year, so we had to jump some hurdles and pull some strings on short notice. We happen to be familiar with jumping hurdles on Team Marine and we managed to get out there with a huge van. We ran up and down the streets during the parade. We crawled under bleachers and dug into trash bags after the parade. By the time we finished collecting, we managed to fill up fifteen fifty-gallon bags and crammed them into our large van. Currently, we are estimating the amount to conservatively be 2,500 beverage containers. This event was very successful and will raise a lot of money for Water Solutions For Life to give LifeStraws to developing countries.
In order for Team Marine members to be able to accurately teach others about the devastating problems of today such as ocean acidification, plastic pollution, and climate change, we must first be experts on what we are talking about. We pride ourselves on our profound knowledge of these topics, but we are always fascinated to learn more and increase our knowledge. A majority of Team Marine members are in Mr. Kay’s Marine Biology course, so when Paul Scott from Plug in America came on December 10th, we were graced with the presence of an expert on the topic of electric vehicles and the oil companies’ corrupt manipulation of today’s society. Scott is a founding member of Plug in America and an EV driver of 11 years! A longtime advocate for renewable energy, and an environmental activist, he is a great promoter of driving electric. He informed us on the many effects that oil has had on our national security, economy, health, and most importantly our environment. Knowing all of this, it begs the question: are we really paying the true cost of oil? The answer is no. Although most Americans believe that gas is already too expensive they haven’t even taken into account how it’s basically handed to them! If you think about the tens of thousands of people that have died because of air pollution (due mostly to living near busy intersections and freeways), the $50 billion that leaves the US each year to pay for foreign oil and its transportation, and the thousands that have died in the Iraq war that was fought mostly because of oil, then gas prices would be through the roof! Scott informed us on several appalling situations where these corporations have not taken responsibility for their actions. For example, in Ecuador, the people are suing Texaco for damages from oil drilling, (and have been for 20 years now) but it seems to be going nowhere since its countersue after countersue.
So how can we stop the flow of our money from going towards oil companies? Don’t give them another cent. Paul Scott has been powering his EV from solar power for 11 years now and encourages us all to make the decision to refuse oil. He dispelled several myths about EV’s and although many people may think that electric cars are extremely dangerous because of recent EV fires, the media hasn’t even brought to attention the more than 12,000 fires due to oil consuming vehicles. Furthermore, not only would you be driving in one of the safest cars, but you would also be eliminating 90% of your carbon footprint just by owning an electric vehicle. The lesson to be learned here was best said by Scott, “When you die, is the world a better place because you existed? If yes, then you have succeeded as a human being.”
We would also like to congratulate Scott and the Nissan of Downtown Los Angeles for winning the 2013 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award. Check it out HERE.
Also check out the Plug in America site HERE.
Earlier in the year, we communicated with the school district to implement recycling bins in classrooms of teachers at Santa Monica High School. Our patience and perseverance resulted in success! For the Thanksgiving holiday we distributed thirty recycling bins. We cultivated a clear sign displaying items to recycle and items to trash for better waste management in our school community. Our signs help clear up the difference between recyclables and trash. Students who aren’t aware of the correct way to recycle can result in damaged bins and delayed recycling. We would like to thank Ms. Virginia Hyatt and Crown Disposal for providing these bins and helping us make Santa Monica High School a more eco-friendly campus by giving the teachers their requested bins. Now, students at Santa Monica High School can gain a better understanding of the importance of recycling and the correct way to approach it.
Though we have already blogged about the famous First Flush, this year’s Second Flush proved to be more devastating. On November 21st, there was continuous rain, which caused copious amounts of trash in the Pico-Kenter Storm Drain to rapidly distribute onto the Santa Monica beach. The Second Flush resulted in a plethora of plastics and trash (waste that the First Flush didn’t push) spewing out onto the beach. Team Marine and coach Benjamin Kay rushed to the beach at midnight to catch the footage of the disgusting scene. Mr. Kay’s video of the Second Flush was picked up by the NRDC, Santa Monica Mirror, Santa Monica Daily Press, and various other media outlets. We’d especially like to thank Serena Ingre and Leila Monroe for their reports on the Second Flush. Check out the press received below.
Watch Mr. Kay’s video here:
Direct Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifgka3iG5OQ
On Friday November 22, Team Marine was given a presentation from Grades of Green. Girl Scout Juniors from Grant Elementary School were also present to listen to the presentation. Grades of Green is a catalyst in taking kids’ green ideas and turning them into fruition. Students come to them with their ideas, and they provide them with the resources they need to launch their projects. Students have successfully set up recycling programs and compost programs at various schools around the nation with the support from Grades of Green. Furthermore, this organization has helped kids stand their ground against administration to advocate for a more sustainable environment. Although the non-profit mainly helps children in schools located in Southern California, it has expanded to helping at an international level with schools even in Australia. Grades of Green started in 2009 with four partners who came together with a common goal: to inspire students to become involved in and take leadership in setting goals for a sustainable school community then take the steps to achieve them. We’d like to thank presenters Allie Bussjaeger, Kimberly Lewand Martin, and Robin Murphy for helping us organize this event.
Check out the Grades of Green site here.
On Saturday, November 9th, Team Marine went to the Santa Monica Pier for a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) event. There we showcased our recently converted 1971 Volkswagen Super Beetle to people attending the event. Community outreach is pivotal in getting our cause and mission spread. Furthermore, being at such a tourist attraction maximized outreach to a global scale; we educated a lot of curious people about the effects of combustion engines on the environment. Our team coach, Mr. Kay, parked his Nissan Leaf next to Volts Wattson to showcase alternate methods of going electric in an affordable way. Converting gas to electric can be expensive; we did the conversion to demonstrate that high school students were capable of overcoming technological and economic hurdles, but also to highlight an important solution to our friends in the community. We educated youth and college students as well as others. We were able to extend outreach to a plethora of people thanks to STEAM. Check out their website here.
For the past three months, Team Marine, along with Mr. Kay’s Marine Biology class, has been collecting thousands of redeemable beverage containers at Santa Monica High School. This past Wednesday, October 16, 2013, Team Marine organized a sorting event of over 8,000 containers. In all there were: 6,087 plastic #1 bottles, 193 plastic #2 bottles, 1,378 aluminum bottles, and 493 glass containers. Through this event, we have raised about $455. This equates to over 74 LifeStraws! Thanks to the City of Santa Monica and especially Rafael and Adam Holt from the Allan Company for picking up these recyclables.
On the 9th day of October, Santa Monica encountered the first flush of the year. This was surprising because the amount of rain indicated a gurgle rather than a flush. When we realized that it was the First Flush we sent a crew down to the beach to do an emergency clean up. When we arrived at the Pico-Kenter storm drain, we were disturbed by the debris of human pollutants. Coffee cups, plastic bottles, and tennis balls were only some of the objects in a stream of potentially toxic foam and slime that led straight for the ocean. We also noticed that the morning after there was a new trash collecting vehicle that was roaming the surface of the sand. This was really cool despite the fact that it was necessary. We are expecting to have a second flush that will carry the rest of the debris (considering the amount of rain was too little) to completely flush the storm drains of sand. Team Marine is currently on standby until the second flush occurs.
We would also like to acknowledge Matthew King and Meredith McCarthy from Heal the Bay for notifying us of this year’s flush.
Heal the Bay Blog on the First Flush: http://www.healthebay.
Also, check out this First Flush video below: