Readers urge others to support plastic bag ban in Berkeley

Fight to ban the bag

As a member of CALPIRG fighting to ban single-use plastic bags here in Berkeley, it excites me immensely to see that the City Council is taking a stand against the state Department of Education’s decision to promote plastic bags in our environmental curriculum.

Few of us take the time to consider where these plastic bags end up after they leave our homes. We use plastic bags in a plethora of ways every day and never think twice about them.

According to Environment California, 100 million tons of plastic and other garbage are swirling together in our oceans. The result is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch: a mass of trash in the North Pacific that is currently twice the size of Texas, consisting of the very plastic that we hold in our hands every day.
Our marine life is not the only victim of the plastic bag; we also suffer because of the toxins that plastic puts in our oceans. Humans constantly eat fish, and these fish swim around in those toxins. And that makes this a personal problem!

Now, CALPIRG chapters throughout the state are fighting to ban these bags in 10 cities. This semester in Berkeley, we’re going to do this by collecting 9,000 petitions.

Every Cal student can help by using reusable shopping bags and signing our Ban the Bag petition. By banning single-use plastic bags, we can save not only the marine life but ourselves as well.

— Candice Youngblood, CALPIRG Berkeley intern

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A Step in the Right Direction

I applaud the Berkeley City Council for taking a step in the right direction of environmentalism by urging the Department of Education and Gov. Jerry Brown to remove the pro-plastic bag additions for California’s education curriculum.

Educating students about the effects of their choices is extremely important, but will not be enough to save our environment. Now is the opportunity to take action by banning the use of plastic bags in the city.

California alone uses 12 billion plastic bags a year, and we recycle less than 5 percent of these. A lot will end up contributing to the Great Pacific Gyre, which kills over a million birds and marine animals a year.

Across the state, 14 other cities and counties have already taken action to ban the bag, helping to reduce use by 33 percent. Paper bags and reusable bags are an even better choice.

The California Supreme Court has already decided that an Environmental Impact Report is not needed to pass a plastic bag ban. It is time for the city of Berkeley to continue being a leader in helping the environment by banning the use of plastic bags.

— Caitlin Catalano, CALPIRG Berkeley chapter chair