In just the past few weeks, numerous stories and editorials in the Times-Standard have highlighted the problems associated with single-use plastic bags and the harm they inflict on marine life. More plastic litters the ocean than any other trash source. The pictures of wildlife entangled in plastic or starving because they ingest plastic trash mistaking it for food are heartbreaking enough, but the statistics are even more shocking. An estimated 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million sea birds die every year as a result of ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic.

Americans go through an estimated 100 billion plastic bags a year - 100 billion! A recent study conducted by the HSU Environmental Engineering Department determined that three-to-five million plastic bags are used annually in Arcata alone. California spends $25 million per year to landfill plastic bags and $300 million in litter cleanup. We can't afford these costs to our wildlife, our environment or to our state budget. The good news, is, we can all do something about this issue starting today.

Dec. 15 is Day Without a (disposable) Bag, an annual event started by Heal the Bay in Santa Monica to empower individuals to take simple and direct actions to eliminate the use of disposable shopping bags. Surfrider Foundation Humboldt Chapter and Humboldt Baykeeper will be at local grocery stores from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. asking shoppers and retailers to forgo single-use plastic bags in favor of reusable bags. Reusable bags will be created out of old T-shirts then screen printed with the Ban the Bag Humboldt logo. Want the logo on a T-shirt or sweatshirt to wear? Bring one to the event and we will screen print it for free. Have some old T-shirts you would like to donate? Bring them down and we will make them into bags to be distributed to those that can't afford to buy a reusable bag. Come visit us at Ray's McKinleyville, Ray's Arcata, Wildberries and Eureka Natural Foods.


MJ Mazurek is a local wildlife biologist and volunteer coordinator for Surfrider Foundation's Humboldt Chapter.


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