By Hans Johnson, Progressive Victory president
The Victory Tour to support the plastic bag ban kicked off Saturday at the Community Center in Redlands.
Plastic waste is more than a nuisance. It claims the lives of infants through suffocation from bags (that's why they carry a warning label) and also saddles California taxpayers with as much as $500 million in retrieval and cleanup costs.
This year, Californians can move to overcome that danger and burden on our wallets and budgets while curbing a costly form of non-biodegradable trash that degrades our communities. How? By supporting our statewide ban on throwaway plastic bags.
Our state legislature made a smart decision in 2014 to ban polyethylene grocery sacks that pollute our ecosystem. Now, several out-of-state polluters who profit from more than 14 billion waste-making plastic bags handed annually to Californians aim to undo our progress. We have a responsibility to say "yes" to the ban and reject their assault on it.
Nearly two-thirds of Californians support the law. It is the first statewide ban in our country, built on more than 130 existing city and county bans to stem the tide of plastic pollution in our state.
Throwaway bags cost local taxpayers millions of dollars each year to remove from storm drains. Their dangers were dramatized last year in Los Angeles when a flash flood engulfed homes and businesses after plastic bags contributed to clogging a catch basin.
Besides suffocation dangers to young children, throwaway plastic bags inflict blow-away blight on streets, trees, and neighborhoods. Millions of shoppers have shifted to reusable bags, some made locally, with no loss of convenience or lasting trail of contamination in our communities. The plastic-bag ban prevents waste and stimulates innovation.
In California, it's not uncommon to turn up discolored pieces of polyethylene or intact plastic bags when we till the ground to plant gardens or make sand castles on the beach.
Billions of plastic bags entering our state's waste stream each year despoil streambeds and the ocean while harming wildlife. Ingesting polyethylene is contributing to a death spiral for some turtles and other species. That fails our moral compact with Mother Earth. To knowingly tarnish our Golden State betrays our role as stewards.
Manufacturers of plastic bags from outside California show no such scruples. They are spending millions of dollars to undo the law and keep profits flowing from throwaway plastic bags that foul our state.
Disclosure reports from the secretary of state show that they have spent more than $5 million to attack the law, SB 270, in the statewide referendum in November.
Frustrated by strong public support for the law, plastic polluters have mounted a second assault on the terms of the ban through a parallel initiative that will require a "no" vote to stop. This two-part message will complicate instructions to those marking ballots to save the bag ban, so polluters are banking on this scheme to confuse voters and nullify the law. Such a desperate maneuver insults Californians' intelligence and undermines our democratic process.
Actively supporting the statewide ban on throwaway plastic bags all the way until Nov. 8 is one way to make a positive difference for a cleaner environment and strengthen our growing industry in reusable bags.
Common sense and self-defense against out-of-state polluters weigh strongly in favor of keeping the ban. Because blight-producing plastic profiteers are barging in to take away the law we won, Californians need to weigh in with a "yes" vote for justice to be done.
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