I just got back from California last night, an amazing week with the Surfrider West Coast Summit in Sausalito, followed by visits to family and friend in the bay area and in Santa Barbara. Even managed to get one surf session in one morning in a pretty packed schedule. I could go on with the travelogue (and probably will at some point), but I wanted to quickly throw out an idea that’s been rattling around in my head this week.
I’ve been thinking about the next campaign, now that plastic bags are history in Tacoma, and I’m a little torn. There’s a big push now on getting rid of plastic straws, and another campaign in several states is looking to eliminate plastic foam containers. I support both of these ideas, as well as the efforts to cut back on bottled water sales and plastic bottles in general. These are all good ideas and any of them would be a worthy use of time and energy. Except for one little nagging thought that I just can’t shake.
It’s about time. The bag proposal in Tacoma took more than four years. There are a lot of meetings with the political class, information sessions, public testimony opportunities… it’s a time consuming process. When faced with the possibility that something similar would need to be done for each of the toxic and unnecessary items listed above, along with all the other potential candidates (like the idiotic plastic-wrapped toothpicks above), it is clear that moving forward in tiny steps is not a long-term solution to a mounting plastic disaster.
I think we need to step back, away from the small-lens single issues, and get an idea of the panorama, all the single-use plastic items and packaging that need to be reduced and eliminated. Incremental progress is all well and good, but big problems call for big solutions and problems don’t get any bigger than this. What if we started talking about all single-use items as one specific thing? Straws, bags, bottles, coffee lids, all the same. Is that too much to focus on for most people to understand?
Then we need to explain it better.