Rise Above Plastics
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Sometimes ya just gotta count ‘em up, Wilbur!

July 13 2008 | Rise Above Plastics,
by scott harrison

Here in San Diego, Surfrider is helping one progressive community, Encinitas (think: Swami’s), come up with an agreeable bag-ban ordinance. The community gathered ~1600 signatures toward that goal and about a month ago we (San Diego’s Surfrider’s Rise Above Plastics activists) officially presented them to the Encinitas City Council – hot damn, ain't we special! Part of that presentation was a short lesson, provided by Russ Levan, about the ‘big picture’ threat of plastic in our ocean environment – and like most cities facing this kinda decision, they wanna see more local evidence of a problem, as well.

I wasn’t quite prepared to speak that evening, but Russ wanted me to toss in some filler to round out our 3 minutes before the council. Holy cr*p – I AIN'T PREPARED! Luckily, the squirrels in my simple mind were churning as usual on the 25 mile drive up to the council chambers…and for kicks, and to prove it to myself that we weren’t just “whistlin’ Dixie” on this whole plastic bag thing, I -tried- to count plastic bags that had accumulated as trash on the side of the I-5 freeway on the drive up. Fun, huh?? WOOT!

...and for once I was glad to see plasti-trash at roadside… Counted 68 bags! That was what I was ABLE to count – some areas (Del Mar – you know that name from The Beach Boys “Surfin’ USA” tune, yeah) had SO MUCH accumulated trash (ahem, and traffic) that I was unable to count garbage AND drive the veggie-mobile at the same time – so much trash was wedged into the guardrails there that I could probably have added another 20 bags or more to the count. That particular section, in the parlance of the day, was BUTT-ugly – and was an eye-opener, even for me, Senor Basura. And voila - I had something to speak about at the City Council meeting - hotcha!

Ya always see trash strewn around on these major freeways (CalTrans budget cuts, baby), but never really take much notice – I try to ignore the freakin’ trash! – but try it sometime, and see what kind of bag-trash numbers you come up with. ==>…and check this out (here’s the silver lining): CalTrans has a “Report a Problem” page where you can report, among other things, “LITTER – Trash & Debris” alongg California freeways. Surprisingly, this site really creates action – several times in the recent past, my superior web-form-filling-out skills have triggered trash clean-up on freeway sections that I designate in the complaints. I gots the power! I am the bag-countin’ Puppet Master! Da link to: CalTrans

OK, back to Encinitas: we, with the help of the experts at Surfrider HQ, are now in the process of writing the draft proposal – stay tuned, wish us well and PRAY FOR SURF!
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