Monday, June 4, 2007

Just Say No to Nurdles!

Chip McDermott kept seeing trash on the streets and beaches of Laguna, and it pissed him off.

Rather than grouse and blame it all on the tourists, he decided to take matters into his own hands and he became a one-man force against garbage. He founded Zero Trash Laguna, to make it easier for people to responsibly dispose of their garbage and recyclables by placing more trash cans around town and to make people pay attention to the way we treat our town, its beaches and water.

Chip and several environmental groups have banded together in a campaign against Styrofoam. If you look at a cup closely, you see it is plastic particles pressed together. Those little white bits, called nurdles, don't ever break down into anything biodegradable. Sea animals mistake them for food and eat them, and this form of plastic is slowly making its way into the mollecular makeup of sea life. Please remember this next time you use a Strofoam cup...and don't. Ditto those obnoxious packing peanuts that scatter like confetti on trash day and go straight into the storm drains. (Hate to make trouble, but has anyone approached places like the Mail Stop, The UPS Store, etc. to ask them about their plans to go green?)

This issue was on the Laguna Beach City Council agenda last Tuesday, and the council agreed to look into creating a new ordinance banning the use of non-recyclable food containers, i.e. Styrofoam. We live at the beach, this stuff inevitably ends up in it, let's take steps to stop it. Makes sense to me. If you want to add your voice to this issue, get in touch with any of the supporting organizations: Earth Resources Foundation, Laguna Greenbelt, Surfrider Foundation, Laguna Ocean Foundation, Pacific Marine Mammal Center, and the Laguna Canyon Conservancy.

Here's a little background on the potential ordinance that Chip sent me:

After a three-year attempt to create a voluntary program, it was determined that the large grocery chains and chain fast food entities would not participate. These businesses are the major source of most of the accumulation of these insidious materials in the near shore marine environment and our wild lands. A Styrofoam cup with hot coffee maybe has a useful life of twenty minutes in your hand and can persist and accumulate in the marine environment for 200 years!

Following similar bans in the Cities of San Clemente, Santa Monica, Malibu, Emeryville, Oakland, San Francisco, Portland, the countries of Ireland, Australia (the Southern State), Austria, Switzerland, and other political entities, the time has come for the City of Laguna Beach to address the important environmental issues associated with throwaway containers composed of long-lived materials, i.e., some plastics and polystyrene.

It is not the intent of this proposal to create any undue hardship on any local business. Functional, cost-competitive, environmentally sensitive, substitute products exist and are readily available. Now is the time to implement a cure for the plastic plague. Begin by taking responsibility for what you consume and demand eco-sensitive food containers from restaurants and businesses.

Your support of this important issue will be appreciated. Please call, write, or email your City Councilpersons (contact information shown on page 2 of local newspapers) and let them know you support Laguna Beach getting control over the distribution of these toxic compounds.