6 ways to celebrate the 2015 Bay-A-Thon

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It’s that time of year, when the days are long and the fog rolls in, and here at Save The Bay we kick off our annual Bay-A-Thon!

There are so many ways to celebrate the 2015 Bay-A-Thon:

  1. Remember to bring reusable bags when shopping
  2. Pledge to stand up to the largest source of Bay pollution
  3. Volunteer to help restore the shoreline
  4. Tell the EPA to protect the Bay from Cargill
  5. Keep pharmaceuticals out of the Bay
  6. Double your impact with a gift to Save The Bay!

Bonus! Celebrate the Bay-A-Thon with an outdoor adventure by the Bay.  Enter to win a camping set worth $1,000 from our friends at REI.

Getting to Zero: Pledges for a Better Bay

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Over the past weeks, we’ve invited you to join our Zero Trash, Zero Excuse campaign via email and social media. As a result, a total of 844 people have taken the Zero Trash Pledge. At last Saturday’s Uncorked festival, many festival goers stopped by our booth to show us their pledge. Here are some of the ways that Save The Bay members and staff have pledged to keep trash from flowing into San Francisco Bay:

“I pledge to accept no excuses in stopping trash from flowing into the Bay.”

“I pledge to strongly encourage my family to quit their plastic water bottle addiction.”

“I take a pledge to say ‘no straw please’ when I order a drink.”

“I pledge to join Save The Bay in demanding my city reach Zero Trash.”

“I pledge to wash + reuse Ziploc bags”

“I pledge to call on my city to enforce existing laws that keep trash out of our waterways.”

“I pledge to carry bamboo utensils so I never have to use plastic utensils again!”

“I pledge to urge my city to be more proactive in passing strong policies to keep trash out of the Bay.”

Will you take the Zero Trash Pledge? Visit www.savesfbay.org/zero to take action.

Earth Day Cleanup For a #ButtFreeBay

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Volunteers collected 7,873 cigarette butts our Earth Day Cleanup in El Cerrito.

Thank you so much to everyone who came out to participate in our Earth Day Cigarette Butt Cleanup in El Cerrito last month! The event was a huge success, and the city was so grateful for the help you all provided. We had over 30 people join us on April 18, including EarthTeam, an organization of local students that has been tracking and working to reduce litter in the Bay Area as well. Check out their interactive Zero Litter map here!

With our volunteers, we were able to clean and survey four main areas of the city to analyze where cigarette debris is accumulating. The city of El Cerrito adopted an outdoor smoking ordinance at the beginning of this year, and we were interested in surveying the downtown area of El Cerrito to help the city monitor its progress in reducing cigarette litter and reducing exposure to second hand smoke. In under 3 hours, our volunteers were able to collect a total of 7,873 cigarettes, and the city as a whole collected a total of 12,236 cigarettes!

Some of the areas we found with the greatest number of cigarettes included the BART station area on nearby sidewalks and the Ohlone Greenway, as well as bus stops near shopping centers, bars on San Pablo avenue, and a Police and Fire station. We found almost 900 cigarettes at the BART station alone.

El Cerrito’s outdoor smoking ordinance is a huge step toward reducing the city’s cigarette litter and keeping local waterways clean of this toxic trash, but the ordinance requires a stronger approach to compliance and enforcement. Although the ordinance is relatively new, as it went into effect in January,  the city has made some efforts to inform the public about the new legislation. Mailers have been sent to citizens and signs were posted on San Pablo Avenue, but the amount of cigarette litter present suggests that many people are unaware of the new ordinance.

In order for the ordinance to have the intended effects of reducing toxic litter and protecting the public from the detrimental effects of secondhand smoke, stronger compliance and enforcement methods need to be implemented, especially in hot spot areas for cigarette butts. Visible signage in polluted areas is a good first step – we did not see any “no smoking” signs at bus stops along San Pablo Ave., nor anywhere along the Ohlone Greenway. The BART station was another striking hot spot – the City of El Cerrito should work with BART to drastically reduce the flow of cigarette butts from the BART station and parking lot into local waterways and storm drains. Working with businesses is also necessary, to help them understand the new restrictions and to explore ways that they can be partners in establishing smoke free commercial areas.

El Cerrito’s ordinance has the potential to create a healthier community and protect local waterways, but the amount of cigarette litter we collected shows that outdoor smoking is continuing at an alarming rate, threatening the health of El Cerrito residents and the Bay. We urge the city to prioritize the outreach and enforcement strategies necessary to ensure the successful implementation of this ordinance.

Our victories will always be under assault

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The plastics industry is spending millions to roll back progress on banning plastic bags.

As of last month, plastic bag bans are illegal in the state of Arizona, and I’m all riled up about it.

Granted, no one can be surprised by anti-environment measures in that deeply conservative state, and there are plenty of pollution issues closer to home that deserve more of my energy. But it still drives me nuts that communities like Bisbee (Arizona’s first and only community to pass a bag-ban ordinance) and a handful of others that were considering similar measures, no longer have the option to say “no” to this plastic, toxic trash.

The issue gets under my skin because together, the plastic industry and conservative politicians have their sights set on much more than rolling back progress in a 5,000-person community in the high desert. In fact, recently the city of Huntington Beach moved to trash the bag ban that protects some of California’s most extraordinary beaches. These rollbacks are stark reminders that our hard-fought victories will always be under assault.

There’s no clearer example of this attack than the deeply disingenuous referendum to overturn California’s groundbreaking plastic bag ban, which will appear on ballots in November. As the Los Angeles Daily News opined:

“The referendum is yet another example of an out-of-state business abusing the state’s initiative process. There is nothing grass-roots about it. The plastics industry paid the signature gatherers, and 98 percent of the money came from out of state. More than $500,000 came from Hylex Poly of South Carolina, the largest plastic-bag manufacturer in the nation.”

Save The Bay and its allies paved the way for the statewide ban. Our victories demonstrate that these ordinances are an effective way to curb pollution; that they don’t harm small businesses as opponents claim; and that shoppers quickly embrace the reusable-bag habit. With California’s statewide bag ban now on hold and under fire, we might take some small comfort that whatever happens in November, the protections we’ve won for the Bay Area remain strong.

But we’d be fools to let down our guard. The plastic industry makes $150 million per year selling plastic bags in California alone, and they are well aware that the Bay Area’s leadership on environmental issues is a bellwether for progress around the state and across the country.

They won’t back down from this fight, and neither will we.

Will you help Save The Bay continue its fight against plastic pollution? To support our work and show your Save The Bay pride, become a sustainer today.

April 2015 Blog Roundup

The month of April is a busy time for many environmental organizations and here at Save The Bay we also had our work cut out for us. From discussing the fate of the Redwood City Salt Ponds in Washington D.C. to supporting a new habitat restoration effort at Oro Loma, Save The Bay staff writers also took some time to blog about the mind-boggling amount of money California spends on picking up trash, entering a parallel world where Benicia is the metropolis of the West, and why Bay Area residents should sign off of technology and tune into nature.

Why Save The Bay Talks to Generals
Author: David Lewis, Executive Director

800px-United_States_Capitol_-_west_frontFollowing last month’s decision that the Environmental Protection Agency would take control of the Cargill Salt Works case, Executive Director David Lewis reflects on his travels to our nation’s capital to speak with high ranking officials about why Cargill’s Redwood City salt ponds should be protected under the federal Clean Water Act. Read more>>

 

 

Going Big, Building an experimental habitat for a better Bay
Author: Cyril Maning, Communications Director

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You probably know us for our restoration work on the Bay. But our latest and largest effort isn’t on the shoreline — it’s at a wastewater treatment plant in San Lorenzo. Why? We’re partnering on a giant experiment to create new Bay habitats that could provide flood protection, improve water quality, and benefit wildlife. Read more>>

 

 

What a Waste: Trash and Your Taxes
Author: Maura Mooney, Policy Volunteer

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Did you know that the Bay Area has a big trash problem?  Litter in our city streets continues to flow into San Francisco Bay. And our cities are paying the consequences of our actions. Literally. Read more>>

 

 

 

 

Benicia: What Could Have Been
Author: Daniel Adel, Communications Volunteer

Discover Benicia, a sleepy town near the north side of the Carquinez Strait that offers a unique look into the past. Benicia’s undeveloped shoreline offers a realistic glimpse what San Francisco’s waterfront and fabled Yerba Buena Cove must have looked like during the California Gold Rush. Read more>>

 

 

 

 

Connect with Mother Nature, Offline
Author: Vivian Reed, Communications Assistant

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Could connecting with mother nature offline be the answer to inspiring a new generation of environmental stewards? Our Communications Assistant tackles that question and more in our blog. Read more>> 

 

 

 

 

For more information about Save The Bay visit www.savesfbay.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for up-to-date news announcements, campaigns, volunteer opportunities, education programs, and events.