Rise Above Plastics
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San Diego - trying to catch up…!

September 13 2008 | Rise Above Plastics,
by scott harrison

Well...a big week in Dago (I think people from outside of San Diego call it that?)! Conservative San Diego city & county is creeping toward plastics reduction - WOOT! We had a double-whammy this last Wednesday: another sunny (yawn), mild (yawn) workday (triple-yawn) started ramping up at about 2:05PM - I get a txt message on my phone, "The Bag Monster Lives!" - uh-oh...look out San Diego City Council's Natural Resources & Culture (not-quite-separated-at-birth) subcommittee - the Bag Man cometh!

One of our local Surfrider Executive Committee members, Jared Criscoulo, was about to arrive at city hall in the famous Bag Monster (google it! youtube it!) get-up! (You may remember Jared from last year’s OB street parade jackin’ the energy level in his Captain Jingle Bells outfit…another story for another time…) The Bag Monster suit is made up of ~600 single-use plastic bags – the exact number dispensed EVERY SECOND in California (and was generously loaned to us by the original Bag Monster, made famous at the Santa Monica ban hearing) – and that, combined with his Irish brougham and lament that he’s been banned from Ireland and is looking for a home – but can find none (aw!)…resonated, apparently: the NR&C; poo-poo’d the ACC (google it!) plea to ignore all bag ban efforts and opted to pass the proposition of a ban/reduction effort up to the City Council decision-making body. I like to think that I had a hand in it with my semi-destructive attempt to toss free reusable cloth bags (organic!) to the subcommittee members…never underestimate the value of free stuff! Regardless, “up” to the City Council is a nice direction to be moving in, indeed – STAY TUNED!

6pm that night…Encinitas (a San Diego coastal suburb-city) was to consider an ongoing ban/reduction proposal as well. So it was to be item #11 of #18, so no need to get there early, have a nice dinner, Scott, we’ve already got one win today, get your strength bolstered. Then another txt – 7:15-ish – “THEY’RE HEARING IT NOW!”. I have something to add to the two things that are “guaranteed” (death & taxes) – city councils ALWAYS re-jigger the dang item schedule! So, 1) death, 2) taxes and 3) re-jiggering! Luckily Elizabeth and the Rise Above Plastics team energized 17 speakers in favor of the proposal to ban/reduce plastic bags (versus…maybe 3 in the “against” column) – so there was still plenty of good energy to witness. A previous-day email to Surfrider members living in Encinitas brought out a few new faces that had never spoken before a city council meeting – that was the sh*t! People motivated to come out on a Wednesday to speak from their hearts – NICE! We new going in that we had two of the five city council members on our side – we needed just one more – so all of the effort was to find the argument, the statement, the plea or the logic that would speak to any of the remaining three members in a way that would help them reach the right decision. No Bag Monster there to help, and as a non-Encinitas-resident it wouldn’t be proper for me to toss free reusable bags (organic or not) at the Encinitas city council members…so it was just the local RAP speakers that could make the case. …and guess what!! The collection of speakers made their point – and after a 3-2 vote in favor of moving forward with the ban proposal – THERE WAS MUCH REJOICING (ala Monty Python). The eager RAP volunteers got a nice shot of positivity, and a few got some face-time on local TV news programs – they were certainly ready for their close-ups!!

Alright – so, these aren’t full-on denial of across-the-board plastics like bags, bottles, styrene & Styrofoam, but in a conservative corner of the US like San Diego (don’t believe the laid-back/surfy rep hype) these are big revelations! In many ways, our Surfrider plastics-reduction efforts are simple awareness campaigns – bringing it back to Rise Above Plastics – opening people’s minds to their inadvertent actions with the disposable lifestyle and how it has been made overly easy for us to assume – AND how easy it is to eschew! The disposable “lifestyle” is delivered to us by selfish entities that produce garbage (single-use bags, for instance), who now, realizing that their product is undeniably PROBLEMATIC, tell us that the “solution” is to bring this trash back to where we got it for “proper handling” – hmmm…there is a huge design-flaw in there. Is this what has become of American ingenuity?

Chalk up two for the good guys!!!

Oh yeah, one more thing - the very next day, a local semi-hipster-weekly, The San Diego Reader, came out with a nice detailed article on our "Plague of Urban Tumbleweeds" - quoting Elizabeth and Bill from our chapter - SWEET! Check it out here.
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