Letters to the Editor

Environmental Panel Needs Your Help in Plastics Battle

Letter to the Editor
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At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 27 in the City Council Chamber (1424 Mission St.), the South Pasadena Natural Resources & Environmental Commission will consider proposed recommendations to the city staff and City Council aimed at reducing the use of plastic and generation of plastic waste. We need supporters to speak at the meeting so city staff and the mayor can hear the rising tide of concern about plastic pollution. The message needs to get through loud and clear that residents want immediate action, not just action sometime in the next decade by the state with no local effort or accountability.

Please share this with your networks to help build support and a real push for action in South Pasadena.

If ultimately enacted by the City Council, the proposal (see below) stands to become one of the most ambitious city-level programs for reducing the growing mountain of un-recycled plastic waste in California. That said, its elements are themselves modest, representing only a starting point, and are at this point aimed primarily at low-hanging fruit. That this is the case only goes to show how little has been done to address this problem beyond shoulder shrugging and talk with no action.

Even though this proposal is, I believe, something the city can carry out if it prioritized even a bit, it will be necessary for the city staff and City Council to hear from local and area residents that more must be done as quickly as possible to arrest the growing ecological and human health threat posed by plastic use and resulting pollution. Action is needed immediately and on a sustained basis for a generation or more to solve this problem.

As things can change, I would urge you to double check the NREC agenda before coming on next Tuesday night if you, hopefully, wish to speak. It should be there by Friday afternoon and you can check it at:

https://www.southpasadenaca.gov/government/boards-commissions/natural-resources-environmental-commission/natural-resources-and-environmental-agendas-and-minutes

Meanwhile, here are the elements of my proposal, and I am happy to support expansion if there are constructive and realistic suggestions:

South Pasadena’s NREC recommends that the city act immediately to:

• Amend its polystyrene ordinance to ban all single-use plastic products (unless they are compostable) in restaurants, at the farmer’s market, in food service operations in the city (such as catering) and in city facilities, including parks and athletic fields;

• Seek to form a task force with the South Pasadena Unified School District to eliminate use of single-use plastic on school campuses by eliminating its use in school cafeterias and campus vending machines and at sports events, fundraising events and as packaging for student lunches by parents;

• Develop and disseminate educational messages through programs, publications, social media and advertising to city residents on how to minimize the use of plastic;

• Work with other cities and organizations to get local merchants and their parent companies to phase down plastic packaging by educating their customers on the benefits of reusable containers, instituting refill stations and bulk product bins, providing compostable plastic bags for vegetables and fruits and dry goods sold in bulk, selling and promoting reusable water bottles, and supporting research and development of environmentally sound packaging materials and systems as alternatives to today’s single-use plastic materials.

Hope to see you there.

William Kelly, Commissioner South Pasadena Natural Resources &
Environmental Commission

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