#MovingForeword - For the environmentally conscious...

One of the greatest parts about what we are doing is giving our friends and people we believe in the chance to share their story, and what they are passionate about in life. Recently, my good friend Jeff Watson approached me about an environmental concern, one that, if handled in the right way, could vastly improve the state of our oceans and planet. After viewing Before The Flood just a few weeks ago, I felt like Jeff’s knowledge was worth getting out there. So take this as a small alternate route from the normal path of #movingforeword, and learn how you can help the environment with a simple vote. - Connor Buss

 

How to Ban Plastic Grocery Bags from the State of California in the Upcoming Election

I know there is a lot of information, opinions, and media filling the airwaves about the upcoming election right now.  And, like me, I’m sure you are pretty tired of hearing about it all.

But fear not!  This is not a piece concerning partisan politics, but instead one of the very important Propositions citizens registered to vote in the State of California will be deciding on November 8th.  There are 17 measures on the upcoming ballot, and you will need to vote properly on two of those amendments in order to officially ban plastic bags statewide in California.  

In order to ban plastic bags from the State of California in the upcoming election, you will need to vote YES on Proposition 67 and NO on Proposition 65.

But why we would even want to ban plastic bags in the first place?  Plastic grocery bags are incredibly wasteful and make up a large portion of the non-biodegradable pollution filling our landfills and streets and suffocating the ocean and our water systems.  These bags have an average use of 10 minutes and less than 5% of all bags are recycled, so hopefully that paints a picture as to just how immensely these bags contribute to the overall level of pollution in the state of California.

Here is a quick breakdown of the two propositions and what affect your vote has on the statewide plastic bag ban:

Prop 67 is fairly straightforward.  It is the proposition in place to actually ban plastic grocery bags statewide, requiring grocery stores to replace them with paper, recycled or reusable bags.  Numerous cities in California, including San Francisco and Los Angeles have already instituted a citywide ban, with noticeable results in pollution reduction.

Prop 65 is much less straightforward, and purposefully so.  The four largest plastic bag manufacturing companies (all based out of state) banned together to lobby for this new measure, as Prop 67 proves a serious threat to their current and future earnings.  Not only will the ban on plastic bags in California result in a loss of millions in yearly revenue for these four companies, but the ban also may serve as a positive example for other states to follow suit, which could be crippling to their business and industry in the coming years.

On a basic level, “Prop 65 proposes to redirect any proceeds from sales of paper bags that customers buy as a substitute for plastic bags” according to the SF Chronicle.  Although on the surface it may sound environmentally focused, it is purposefully written to be convoluted, in the hopes of confusing California voters into believing this particular proposition is pro-environment. 

What is most important to know going into the voting booth on Tuesday, however, is that even if California voters pass Prop 67, it is nullified by a higher margin of victory on Prop 65.  So, if more people vote Yes on Prop 65 than 67, than plastic bags will continue to be sold at grocery stores across the state, even if the majority of the state population decides to ban them. 

In order to successfully ban plastic grocery bags, it is extremely important you vote YES on Proposition 67 and NO on Proposition 65.

If you are interested in learning more or researching further into the history behind the plastic bag ban in California or the wider effects of your vote on these two propositions, here is some further information on the subject:

The SF Chronicle: http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/A-dissenting-view-on-Props-65-and-67-on-shopping-9228384.php

The Surfrider Foundation: https://sandiego.surfrider.org/2016/09/02/prop-67-65-how-to-save-the-bag-ban-this-november/

The LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-plastic-bag-propositions-20160908-snap-story.html

If you are interested in learning about how all of the different, often confusing, propositions affect the state environment on the upcoming election, I would encourage you to visit Patagonia’s Vote the Environment initiative here: http://www.patagonia.com/register-to-vote.html

Thanks for reading and see you at the polls on Tuesday, November 8th!