California, Ban the Foam!

What’s this all about?

California Senate Bill (SB) 568, introduced to help prevent foam litter in the marine environment, passed the CA State Senate in May and is headed to the State Assembly soon! Surfrider Foundation is a co-sponsor of this bill along with Clean Water Action and a big reason that this bill was able to make it through the State Senate was because of grassroots efforts from volunteers and supporters just like you!

What’s It Do?

SB 568 would prohibit a food vendor or restaurant from dispensing prepared food to a customer in a polystyrene foam food container starting in 2015. The compliance date for public schools would be one year later. The bill would also allow a city or school district that has a verifiable recycling program and recycles more than 60% of its foam foodware to continue to dispense food in foam after the ban goes in effect.

Why does it matter?

Expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) is pervasive in the marine environment and like most plastics, polystyrene is lightweight and floats. When littered, it can be carried from streets and through storm drains out to the ocean. 60-80 percent of all marine debris and 90 percent of floating debris are plastic. In the environment, the containers break down into smaller and smaller pieces and are easily mistaken for food by marine animals. On top of the plastic pollution issues, styrene was recently added to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services list of substances anticipated to cause cancer in humans.

How you can help:

1) Sign Surfrider’s online action alert which is updated for the State Assembly now.
2) Print out the petition and get signatures to help show support in your local community.
3) Follow Yes on SB 568 on facebook and suggest it to your friends!
4) Documenting foam litter that you see. More evidence is always helpful, you can email photos and stories to Surfrider Humboldt.

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A Seagull’s Dream

Arcata Elementary School students celebrated World Oceans Day in 2010 by constructing an art project to symbolize the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, otherwise known as the North Pacific Gyre. This film documents their project and the celebration, and was shown at September’s Ocean Night at the Arcata Theater Lounge.

Ocean Night, this Thursday, Sept. 2

Come out to our monthly Ocean Night Film Screening at Arcata Theatre Lounge! This Thursday, Sept. 2, we feature September Sessions, A Sheltered Sea – The Journey of The Marine Life Protection Act and The Seagull’s Dream, an Arcata Elementary School documentary about the Pacific Garbage Patch.

Co-sponsored by Ocean Conservancy, Humboldt Baykeeper and the Northcoast Environmental Center.

Doors at 6:30 p.m., movies at 7 p.m. All ages! Free to members, otherwise donation of $3 requested.

More on the movies…

Continue reading

The Majestic Plastic Bag

Thanks to Pete!

Well done, Arcata Elementary!

(h/t to the NCJ)

Bob Doran covers the Great Pacific Garbage Patch project at Arcata Elementary School.

The official announcment: Continue reading

Yuck: BPA found in water and sand

BPA widespread in ocean water and sand

Scientists have detected the chemical along the shorelines of 20 countries

Pollution in Asian waters. BPA’s presence in sea water comes in part from the breakdown of plastic trash dumped into the sea. MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images

Pollution in Asian waters. BPA’s presence in sea water comes in part from the breakdown of plastic trash dumped into the sea. MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images

Japanese scientists testing ocean water and sea sand have found widespread contamination with high levels bisphenol A, a chemical used to make plastic that’s able to mimic the female hormone estrogen in living things.

Its presence in sea water comes from the breakdown of the plastic trash being dumped into the sea and from the use of the compound in anti-rusting paints applied to the hulls of ships. BPA is man-made and does not occur naturally in the environment. Continue reading

New Bill to Ban Plastic Bags in California


Assembly Bill 1998 will reduce dangerous plastic bag litter pollution by banning plastic bags at large retail outlets and charging a 25 cent “green bag fee” for any paper bag purchases. The money from the fee will go to the Paper Bag Pollution Clean Up Fund, which provides for reusable bag giveaway programs.

Plastic bags are a primary component of ocean litter. Over one million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals die each year from ingestion or entanglement in plastics. This is why on World Oceans Day 2009, the Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme called for an outright ban on thin-film plastic bags worldwide. The plastic litter problem is also costing our state tens of millions of dollars in litter clean up and abatement costs each year.

To read more in a OpEd from Assemblymember Julia Brownley and Enviroment California, click here.