Plastic Bag Ban worth fighting for.

Update: Surfrider is asking that people who support the plastic bag ban in Huntington Beach to attend Tuesday’s HB City Council Meeting at 6 PM.


During my tenure as a Huntington Beach City Councilman, I stopped counting the number of times we debated the issue of banning single-use plastic bags at 17.

17 times that a city by the ocean, known as being one of the greenest cities in the state, with the largest solar array in Orange County, debated whether or not to allow the proliferation of plastic bags along the coast. I voted with three of my other colleagues dozens of times to uphold and continue this common sense measure, a measure supported 4-1 by e-mails we received at the time from Huntington Beach residents.

Huntington Beach was clearly in the mainstream of California cities and counties, 138 of which are covered by a single-use plastic bag ordinance, and there are now more than 10 million people covered by these ordinances. Clearly that makes an impact. The state legislature passed the ban as well. Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law, stating, “This bill is a step in the right direction. It reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks, and even the vast ocean itself.”

Predictably Big Plastic opposed this, and now we await the results of a initiative against this law – bought and paid for by plastic manufacturers.

Now newly elected Councilman Posey wants to repeal the single-use plastic bag ban in Huntington Beach, ostensibly because the right to a free plastic bag is a God-given American value.

Great, let’s move backwards.

Is this going to solve all our ocean pollution problems? No. Is it a step in the right direction? Yes.

Doing nothing is not an option. There are plenty of reasons not to overturn the ban:

Just today, the New York Times published a piece on a broad scientific study that paints a picture of the serious danger that face our oceans. Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says

Other studies on the threat of plastic pollution to our oceans are highlighted by the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“The bags contribute to a massive plastics problem in our oceans. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that at least 88 percent of the surface of the world’s open oceans is polluted by plastic debris, much of it in the form of tiny particles resulting from the breakdown of larger plastic objects. Plastic has accumulated in the biggest concentration in the North Pacific Ocean, due west of the California coast. “Ocean currents carry plastic objects which split into smaller and smaller fragments due to solar radiation,” says Andres Cozar, the lead author of the study. “These micro plastics have an influence on the behavior and the food chain of marine organisms.” The findings raise significant worries about the risks faced by sea creatures living or feeding in this contaminated soup, and about the impact of this pollution on food webs.

According to another new study, published in the journal Science, small plastic fragments not only float in the water but are nearly ubiquitous in coastal sediments around the world. Those bits of plastic debris easily accumulate harmful chemicals from seawater. Ingestion of the dangerous particles by marine mammals, fish, birds and invertebrates is now well documented. Lead author Kara Law notes, “We are putting… a large amount of a synthetic material into a natural environment. We’re fundamentally changing the composition of the ocean.”

Shouldn’t a city that derives much of its income from ocean tourism and whose citizens use the ocean recreationally on a daily basis be the first in line to take steps to reduce plastic pollution in the ocean?

  4 comments for “Plastic Bag Ban worth fighting for.

  1. January 18, 2015 at 8:12 am

    Agreed. I would be happy to participate in a petition via to be presented to the Huntington Beach Citg council.
    Feel free to contact me at, and j will have it pushed out through our networks.
    Thank you

  2. Mike Hoskinson
    January 19, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Repeal is not only good but necessary. City Councils have no business banning or mandating private business or products. If this had been an honest and serious effort it would have been put forth as an election item and allowed the citizens of HB to either vote it on themselves or reject it entirely. As it stood it was passed by a partisan vote against the will of the people and resulted in the firing of two incumbents, something that has never happened in HB. Now, the bag ban is sure to head to Sacramento for a vote in 2016 where all Californians will choose openly whether they want to take this step. With that in mind it’s entirely appropriate to repeal the local ban and wait for a true and valid vote of the entire electorate. As I know you all believe in democracy and also know that the environment will in all likelihood survive the two years until a vote you can see this is the best outcome ?? especially in light of how incredibly divisive this issue has been. Lets repeal it, get back to being neighbors and see where 2016 takes us.

    • Joe
      January 21, 2015 at 10:09 pm

      Michael Hoskinson, when you’re not busy with conspiracy theories about the U.N. or bullying middle school kids, you’re getting your facts wrong AGAIN.

      Connie Boardman and I weren’t booted out over plastic bags, we lost because of low turnout, Republican mailers and unprecedented amounts of cash.

      Incumbents have lost before. Councilmember Devin Dwyer got the boot in 2012 and Vic Leipzig was defeated in 1996.

      • DW
        January 23, 2015 at 9:30 pm

        Whatever the reason that you were booted out, the new city council believes in the power of the individual and is enabling them to make their own choice about how they want to use a bag.
        Question: If this is about bags, then why didn’t you ban newspaper bags instead? After all, they are literally thrown down in the city streets. Why not make the newspaper companies deliver them to the doorstep or put them in newspaper tubes instead?
        This is just people using the “environment” in an illogical way to institute behavior control over people. Why not just make your argument to the people and let them choose? Because your arguments fail. Apparently, the people are too stupid to make the “right” choice so you feel you must make it for them.
        Then you label everyone who chooses to use a plastic bag (or defends their right to choose) as evil litterers, even if they never littered an item in their life.
        We should spend just a fraction of the wasted time and effort on bag bans to actually do something constructive, like actually addressing trash. But no, it feels much better to forcefully control businesses and people, then declare the city “green” because they are under communist type control over every aspect of their lives.

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