It’s been a busy year for the Rise Above Plastics (RAP) team! Let’s take a moment to reflect on our accomplishments as 2023 comes to a close.
On the policy front, several single-use plastic reduction ordinances that we advocated for became enforceable in 2023, including those adopted by San Diego, Vista, Carlsbad, and San Marcos. Then, in August, Oceanside joined them by adopting their own single-use plastic reduction ordinance that will go into effect in June 2024. In December, Del Mar followed the lead of Encinitas and Solana Beach by banning the sale, use, and distribution of lighter than air balloons. Lastly, the City of Encinitas tackled tobacco product waste and cigarette filter pollution by adopting a public smoking ban that went into effect on July 11, 2023.
Meanwhile, RAP volunteers continued to advocate for ordinances in Chula Vista, La Mesa, and Coronado and are hopeful that South County cities will move forward with common sense single-use plastic reduction ordinances in the new year.
(Headlines regarding the passage of Oceanside's ordinance)
While advocating for policy is our main priority, RAP also turned its attention to the health-related concerns caused by human exposure to plastics and plastic-related chemicals. In collaboration with Oceana in Southern California, RAP hosted a film screening of We’re All Plastic People Now at The Hill Street Country Club art gallery in Oceanside. The eye-opening film highlights little-known plastic impacts that range from fertility issues to endocrine disruption and cancer—and begs the question, “...how much evidence do we need before we decide to take action?”
Over 80 guests attended this enlightening event, which featured beverages donated by Pure Brewing and vegan bites catered by The Plot Restaurant . The work of artist Mark Chamness, whose needlepoint pieces integrate what he calls “discarded urban plastics,” provided the perfect backdrop for the evening.
(Needlepoint art work integrating “discarded urban plastics” on display at the gallery)
An inspiring discussion followed the film, as panelists Mitch Silverstein (Surfrider San Diego Policy Coordinator), Marissa Figueroa (owner of Sonora Refillery), Jenni Brandon, Phd. (microplastic researcher), Jessica Waite, (co-founder of The Plot Restaurant), and Eric Joyce (Oceanside City Council Member) shared a variety of solutions from local policy to individual actions that anyone can take.
(From left to right Mitch Silverstein, Marissa Figueroa, Jenni Brandon, Phd.,
Jessica Waite and Councilmember Eric Joyce)
While it can be difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate plastics entirely, we can go “plastic-light” as Dr. Jenni Brandon termed it. Suggestions for reducing the use of plastic include:
- Avoid polystyrene foam cups, plates, and containers
- Frequent businesses that provide compostable to-go foodware or allow you to use your own containers
- Use a reusable plastic-free beverage container
- Choose a reusable cup for takeaway coffee
- Carry reusable shopping bags for all shopping errands (grocery store, pharmacy, retail, home improvement, etc.)
- “Skip the Stuff” — say no to plastic utensils, straws, stirrers, sauce packets, etc.
- Avoid plastic food storage containers
- Don’t use plastic containers that are discolored or have been scratched or marred in any way
- Don’t microwave plastic
- Avoid plastic cutting boards
- Buy plastic free tea bags or loose leaf bulk tea
- Buy condiments, salad dressings, etc. in glass bottles, when possible
- Buy food staples in bulk bins; use glass jars for purchase and storage
- Choose loose produce (use reusable or paper produce bags)
- Shop at a plastic-free refill/grocery store:
- Sonora Refillery (South Coast Hwy, Oceanside)
- Sunshine Market and Refillery (Cannon Road, Oceanside)
- The Nada Shop (Encinitas)
- Local Scoop (Encinitas)
- Scisters Salon & Apothecary (La Mesa)
- Kai’s Refills (La Mesa)
- The Mighty Bin (North Park, San Diego)
- EarthWell Refill (Kensington, San Diego)
- Refill Pantry (Clairemont Mesa, San Diego)
- Ocean Beach People’s Food Co-op (Ocean Beach, San Diego)
- Bristlecone Market (Online, locally owned)
- Support businesses like The Plot Restaurant, which strives for zero waste
- Dine at Surfrider certified Ocean Friendly Restaurants
Keep in mind that attempting to remove all plastics from daily life can feel overwhelming and may lead to failure. Try eliminating/reducing the use of one item at a time, and remember, the Surfrider Foundation advocates for legislation at every level of government because avoiding single-use plastics and plastic packaging should not be so incredibly difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.
For more information about plastic-related health concerns, read CIEL’s Plastic and Health: The Hidden Cost of a Plastic Planet, and join us on Thursday, January 18th at 5:30pm for a discussion with Matt Simon, author of A Poison Like No Other: How Microplastics Corrupted Our Planet and Our Bodies.
To support Surfrider San Diego programming, become a member, attend a RAP meeting or event, volunteer at a beach cleanup, and add your name to our email list to receive updates and action alerts about our efforts to reduce single-use plastic pollution in San Diego County. Together we can make a difference!