Plastic pollution is a major problem in Los Angeles because plastic makes up the majority of LA County’s litter, according to a UCLA report commissioned by LA County’s Sustainability Office. LAist recently reported that about 85% of plastic is NOT recycled, “instead, it fills up landfills or ends up in the street and gets flushed into storm drains and ultimately the ocean, causing harmful and deadly consequences to ocean life” (Restaurants In Unincorporated LA County Are Now Banned From Using Plastics, Erin Stone). Consumers are often unaware that when plastic is recycled, thrown away, or improperly put in recycling bins it often ends up in the same place and is always detrimental to the environment.
For several years, Heal the Bay has been working with LA City and County to help create legislation aiming to break the harmful plastic cycle. And finally, there is some hope.
In 2023, THREE new laws are making big waves for the environment, and ultimately, reducing plastic in our oceans. They may sound confusing, but the result is simple, less plastic! Here is Heal the Bay’s quick breakdown of those laws:
Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish
The City of Los Angeles, in accordance with the first phase of the LA Sanitation and Environment (LASAN) Comprehensive Plastics Reduction Program, passed several exciting laws in 2022 to reduce waste and curb plastic pollution in our region. Since then, two of those laws have officially gone into effect as LA takes major steps to reduce single-use plastics.
The LA City law went into effect on April 23, 2023, and asserts that no restaurant or retail store can give, sell, distribute, or offer products made of EPS to any consumer. This includes cups, plates, bowls, takeaway containers, egg cartons, and even ice coolers. The first phase will only impact establishments with more than 26 employees and will expand to include all restaurants and retail establishments in April 2024.
The LA City “plastic bag ban” has been in place for nearly a decade, banning local LA grocery stores from handing out single-use plastic bags and charging ten cents ($0.10) for alternative single-use carryout bags. This law was a means to reduce plastic in the environment and encourage the public to invest in reusable totes bags instead. In 2023, the ban on single-use plastic bags was expanded to large retail stores. Now in effect, retail establishments that employ more than 26 employees should no longer offer flimsy single-use plastic bags to consumers and will offer alternatives or paper bags for a $.10 fee. As of July 2023, all other shops including apparel stores, farmers markets, and food or beverage facilities will join the list of places to ban the bag.
If you suspect your favorite clothing store, watering hole or eatery is unaware of these new rules, let them know! Education is the most important part of creating change in your community. You can also give LA Sanitation a call and let them know, too at 213-485-2260.
LA Countywide Changes
This year has brought a big environmental win to even more places beyond the municipality limits, impacting communities all over Los Angeles County.
Sticking a Fork in the Single-Use Plastic Problem
3) LA County Foodware Ordinance:
In April 2022, LA County celebrated Earth Month with the passage of unprecedented legislation to reduce single-use plastics and curb plastic pollution and it is already being rolled out. As of May 1st, you should no longer be offered single-use plastic foodware or Styrofoam products at restaurants in the unincorporated areas of LA County! But this ordinance does so much more:
Phases out single-use foodware that is not compostable or recyclable. Since plastic is neither, that means no more single-use plastic foodware!
Phases out the sale of products made of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) aka Styrofoam.
Requires full-service restaurants to use reusable foodware for customers who are dining on-site (including reusable plates, cups, bowls, silverware).
The ordinance will go into effect in phases but, for now, if you see a restaurant not complying, be sure to let them know or contact LA County Public Works.
A Huge Relief and Cause for Hope Heal the Bay volunteers have removed more than 4 trillion pieces of trash from LA County Beaches in the past 3 decades, and sadly, 80% was plastic. These ordinances are just the first steps on a long journey to end the local dependency on plastic in Los Angeles. With LA leading the way, the rest of California is following along with the passage of bills like SB54. There is finally real hope for a plastic-free future in LA with safe clean watersheds across the State.
Resumen ejecutivo Heal the Bay se enorgullece en publicar el cuarto informe anual del boletín River Report Card. Este informe proporciona un resumen de las calificaciones de la calidad del agua en áreas recreacionales del condado de Los Ángeles (L.A.) durante el 2021. Los ríos, arroyos y lagos del condado de L.A. reciben multitudes de visitantes cada año y son vitales para satisfacer las necesidades recreacionales, áreas verdes y prácticas culturales de la comunidad. Desafortunadamente, muchos sitios de recreación en el condado de Los Angeles tienen problemas de contaminación por bacterias indicadoras fecales (FIB), lo que indica la presencia de patógenos que pueden causar infecciones, irritación de la piel, enfermedades respiratorias y gastrointestinales. Nuestro objetivo es resaltar las preocupaciones sobre la calidad del agua, abogar por mejorar este problema y brindar a los miembros de la comunidad información necesaria para mantenerse seguros y saludables cuando disfrutan de sus área recreacionales locales.
De los 35 sitios calificados durante el verano de 2021, el 59 % obtuvo luz Verde en su calificaión (lo que indica que no hay riesgos para la salud debido a la calidad del agua); El 17% obtuvo luz Amarilla (riesgo moderado para la salud) y el 24% luz Roja (alto riesgo para la salud).
Heal the Bay amplió el informe del boletín River Report Card para incluir seis nuevos sitios de monitoreo en la parte baja del río de L.A. desde Maywood hasta Long Beach. Si bien estos sitios no están oficialmente designados para la recreación, las personas acuden regularmente a esta parte del río. Los datos brindan información para los usuarios y nos dan una perspectiva para futuros esfuerzos de revitalización del río.
Siete sitios de monitoreo no excedieron los lilmites permitidos de bacterias patógenas, obteniendo así calificaciones ecológicas del 100 %. La mayoría de estos sitios están ubicados en el sector del Angeles National Forest.
Todos los seis sitios de monitoreo de la parte baja del río de L.A. experimentaron una muy baja calidad de agua, lo que los hace acreedores a los peores sitios de la lista. Las concentraciones de bacterias a menudo fueron diez veces mayores a los estándares de calidad de agua.
Después de los sitios de la parte baja del L.A. River, Tujunga Wash en Hansen Dam encabezó la lista de los peores sitios recreacionales con un 94 % de calificaciones que obtuvieron luz Roja, porcentaje más alto visto en este sitio desde que se inició el informe del River Report Card.
Por cuarto año consecutivo, a la altura de Rattlesnake Park en el río de L.A. esta otro sitio en lista de los peores sitios recreacionales. Este sitio popular recibe un flujo constante de contaminación bacteriana cerca del drenaje pluvial a la altura de la calle Fletcher Ave para quienes pescan, hacen kayak o caminan por sus aguas.
Las Virgenes Creek a la altura de la calle Crags Road experimentó un gran aumento en el porcentaje de calificaciones con luz Roja con respecto al año anterior. Este sitio en el Parque Estatal Malibu Creek ocupa la posición nueve en la lista de los peores sitios recreacionales.
Las áreas con desarrollo urbano tienden a recibir las peores calificaciones que las áreas naturales, y la mayoría de los peores sitios en la lista se cuentran en los paisajes urbanos. Los sitios en la cuenca del río San Gabriel y la cuenca superior del río de L.A. se encuentran en áreas menos desarrolladas y se ven menos afectados por la escorrentía urbana.
Heal the Bay estuvo conmovido por el gobernador Gavin Newsom quien firmó el Proyecto de Ley de la Asamblea (AB) 1066 en 2021. Este proyecto iniciará un proceso para proteger la salud pública y la calidad del agua en sitios recreacionales como ríos, lagos y arroyos de California. El proyecto de ley, escrito por el asambleísta Bloom y patrocinado por Heal the Bay, asignará al Consejo de Monitoreo de Calidad del Agua de California (California Water Quality Monitoring Council) para hacer recomendaciones a la Junta Estatal de Agua (State Water Board) de un programa uniforme de monitoreo de sitios recreacionales de agua dulce en todo el estado para diciembre de 2023. El programa del Consejo incluirá definiciones propuestas para sitios recreacionales y “sitios prioritarios recreacionales de contacto con el agua” en California. El Proyecto de Ley AB 1066 abordará las disparidades en el monitoreo de la calidad del agua entre sitios recreacionales de agua dulce y playas costeras.
Heal the Bay se compromete a mejorar la calidad del agua en las cuencas hidrográficas del condado de Los Ángeles mediante la creación de áreas verdes. Las áreas verdes, mejoran la calidad del agua local, aumentan la reutilización y el suministro de agua, reducen el carbono y mitigan el efecto aislado de calor urbano. Además de proporcionar áreas de recreación y hábitat para los animales vida Silvestre, pueden también funcionar como soluciones esenciales de múltiples beneficios para las aguas pluviales. Como ejemplo podemos mencionar la creación de Inell Woods Park: un nuevo espacio verde de múltiples beneficios y diseñado por la comunidad que se construirá este año en el sur de Los Ángeles. Heal the Bay construirá el parque de aguas pluviales en colaboración con el concejal de la ciudad de Los Angeles Curren Price Jr. y miembros de la comunidad para capturar, tratar y reutilizar la escorrentía urbana y proporcionar espacios verdes y recreativos a la comunidad. Los proyectos de beneficios múltiples como este son de uso eficiente y efectivo de nuestros contribuyentes que sirven tanto a las necesidades comunitarias como ambientales.
AS THE YEAR CONTINUES on through May, the weather begins to warm, melting away the worries of the winter and bringing us into the joys of the spring! The level of sunshine spikes, encouraging us to go out and play, and what better way to ring in the rising heat than by going to the beach? Los Angeles has many beautiful beaches to visit, so it’s important you pick the one that’s right for you! Read below to see which one aligns most harmoniously with your zodiac sign:
Aries, your best beach is the Leo Carrillo Beach on the west side of Malibu. This beautiful beach is connected to a gorgeous state park where there are trails, sea caves, and reefs all available to enjoy. You’ll never get bored!
Taurus, you love a lowkey beach where you can just relax and unwind. Your most aligned beach is Long Beach! Not only is this beach’s vibe laid-back and easygoing, it’s surrounded by tons of amazing restaurants. We all know Taurus loves good food.
Gemini, the best beach for you is Santa Monica Beach. The Santa Monica Pier is what makes this beach your best bet to visit. Complete with rides and a Ferris wheel, this beach has no shortage of fun activities, which pairs perfectly with Gemini’s need to stay stimulated!
Cancer, you love to be in places that are comfortable and sweet. Hermosa Beach is the beach for you. It’s close to LA, so you don’t have to travel too far away from your treasured home to get here. This beautiful shore will have you feeling happy and healed!
Leo, you have a knack for gathering attention with your looks and aura, so why not show them off the way you deserve? Bring your beautiful self to Venice Beach, where you can enjoy the gorgeous waves and also connect with gorgeous people!
Virgo, a trip to the beach can’t have too much fuss or too many people, that’s why your best beach in Los Angeles is the Will Rogers State Beach! With ample parking and space, this beach isn’t as busy as the bigger beaches, and that’s why it fits right in with your vibe.
Libra, you need a beach that’s beautiful and allows you to be social. Your most aligned beach is Redondo Beach. With a buzzing pier, highly Instagrammable oceanfront restaurants, and even nightlife, you’ll get all the connection your little Libra heart needs at Redondo Beach!
Scorpio, you appreciate a little privacy when you go out, so you prefer places that are more intimate and serene. You’ll find just what you’re looking for at Puerco State Beach! This beach is quiet and low-profile. Make it your next beach day destination.
Sagittarius, you need a beach that piques your interest, with multiple things to do and sights to see. That’s why your best beach is Escondido Beach, which is also part of a state park. You can lay out on the sand after hiking, climbing, or seeing the Escondido Falls waterfall!
Capricorn, you have an appreciation for the finer things in life, so you deserve a beach that has a bit of luxury. Manhattan Beach is the place for you. It’s beautiful, but not too bustling, with ample luxury shopping and dining. Give it a visit!
Aquarius, you need a beach that’s just as interesting as you are, but still gives you plenty of room to do more than just lay out. Look no further than Torrance Beach! You can surf, swim, bike, walk, or even fly kites at this beach. The versatility will make you feel right at home.
Pisces, your big, beautiful beach is none other than Zuma Beach! There is nothing Pisces values more than ease and flow, and Zuma Beach offers both of those in abundance. With plenty of parking, space, nature, and water, Zuma Beach is definitely made for Pisces.
It’s time to have fun, so get out and go play! And remember to do a little cleanup as you catch your rays and admire the waves. All zodiac signs can do their part to protect our planet!
Amber Jay is an astrologer with over 10 years of astrological research under her belt. She utilizes astrology as a practical tool that is enlightening and freeing, focusing on pulling out the inherent wisdom that lies within all of us. You can find her for regular spiritual and astrological guidance at @AmberJayLightsTheWay on Instagram.
Thank you to all who rushed to the beaches of Southern California on December 4-5, 2021 and January 2-3, 2022 to help us document the King Tide. Your observations were vital to preparing Los Angeles for a future affected by climate change.
The culminating point of the King Tide gave us a glimpse of what California’s sea-level rise may look like, while the low tide during this phenomenon showed us the gravity of a shifting ocean.
This allowed scientists and the public to observe first-hand the intertidal habitats that are threatened by rapid sea-level rise. These habitats can be observed during normal low tides, but the extra low tide experienced during the event allowed for even more opportunities to observe and explore. During the King Tide, images were captured of threatened sea life, and people getting up close to observe it.
Although the low tide revealed a new view of ecosystems most people don’t get to see, capturing the high tide was just as important. The USGS has noted that “as beaches decrease in height and width with rising seas, the already narrow intertidal zones—supporting invertebrates that help cycle nutrients by breaking down organic matter—shrink further.” (How Rising Seas Push Coastal Systems Beyond Tipping Points | U.S. Geological Survey (usgs.gov)).
Images collected during these past King Tide events will not only help illuminate what the future impact of climate change will have on our California communities, but they also bring to light what ecosystems are threatened as climate change moves past the tipping point.
Photos of Santa Monica Pier at the low point during King Tide. Taken by Michelle Zentgraf.
Our winters bring increased rainfall in the Los Angeles region. During this season, when many don’t usually flock to the beach like during warmer months, our Storm Response Team is our ocean’s first responder after major rain events.
Winter Storms in LA
The biggest storm of the 2021-2022 winter season, as of yet, arrived in Southern California on Tuesday, December 14, 2021. “As far as intensity, it’s one of our stronger storms,” Kristan Lund, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said in the LA Times. “It’s definitely the strongest we’ve seen so far, and potentially one of the stronger ones we’ll see this season.”
While we desperately need the rain to quench our ecosystems, unfortunately it comes with a wave of trash.
Stormwater is the major source of pollution for rivers, lakes, and ocean in Los Angeles County, California. The first flush from a major rain event brings a flood of water, toxins, debris, and trash from our streets straight onto our beaches through the storm drain system. The untreated runoff eventually dumps pollution onto local shorelines. This waste poses a significant risk for wildlife and marine life who can ingest trash or get entangled, and also for the health of our communities who can get sick from bacteria-polluted water.
Our local waters need your help combating marine debris after every big storm in LA during the winter.
Take Part in a Self-Guided Cleanup
Gather friends and family or go solo to take part in a storm response cleanup by spending 30 minutes to an hour cleaning up around your neighborhood or local outdoor space. Remember, trash removed from a street or park means that less waste will make its way through the storm drain system, onto our beaches, and then out to sea.
In addition to doing a cleanup near you, take a look at the map above and target these beach sites today or this week. Highlighted areas are near storm drain outfalls and usually have the most trash after it rains—so this is where you can make the biggest impact.
This won’t be LA’s last storm. Heal the Bay needs more volunteers to join our Storm Response Team for the rainy season to help remove trash, track data, and document photos. If you’re interested in joining our dedicated Storm Response Team to be the ocean’s first responder after #LARain, sign up to receive alerts about volunteer opportunities!
Keep an eye on your email inbox. About 24-hours after each rainfall has ended the Storm Response Team leader will email an alert with the location of the next cleanup. When the storm rolls in, collect your gear and get ready to answer the call! If you need a refresher on how to prepare, what to bring, and how to safely take part, review the most critical storm response information.
Funcionarios electos de Los Angeles están tomando acción legislativa para reducir la basura que se genera con la comida para llevar tras un gran incremento en el consumo del plástico de un solo uso. ¿Pero qué significa “Deja el desperdicio”? ¿Y cómo ayuda a luchar contra la contaminación por plástico? Vamos a verlo.
Deja el desperdicio es el último empujón legislativo de Heal the Bay junto a la coalición Reusable LA. #DejaElDesperdicio requeriría que los extras de la comida para llevar y a domicilio — como los utensilios de un solo uso, popotes, condimentos, servilletas y demás — fuesen facilitados a petición del usuario. Si los necesita, los puede tener. Y si no, no hace falta desperdiciar.
El consumo de plástico de un solo uso se ha disparado debido al COVID-19, incluyendo aquí en Los Angeles, donde nuestros queridos restaurantes locales se han visto forzados a depender principalmente de los pedidos para llevar y a domicilio. El consumo de plásticos de un solo uso se ha incrementado entre un 250% y un 300% desde que comenzó la pandemia, con un aumento de un 30% de basura atribuido en parte a utensilios de usar y tirar. En toda la nación, billones de accesorios para la comida se tiran cada año, muchos sin haberse utilizado siquiera. (Muchos de nosotros incluso los guardamos en el temido cajón de los extras, esperando utilizarlos algún día).
La amplia mayoría de estos objetos de un solo uso no se pueden reciclar. Suman a la crisis de basura plástica, ensucian nuestros vecindarios, ríos, el océano, y atascan los vertederos. El uso de combustibles fósiles para producir objetos de plástico que ni siquiera se usan es lo último que necesitamos durante una crisis climática. Estos efectos también presentan problemas de justicia medioambiental, con las comunidades en primera línea sufriendo desproporcionadamente por el cambio climático, la extracción de crudo, y la incineración asociada a plásticos de un solo uso.
Heal the Bay y Reusable LA están abogando por legislar #DejaElDesperdicio en la ciudad y el condado de Los Angeles. En Enero de 2021, los miembros del consejo de la ciudad de Los Angeles Paul Koretz y Paul Krekorian introdujeron una moción para un borrador de ley para #DejaElDesperdicio. Requeriría que en los casos de comida para llevar, servicio a domicilio o servicios de entrega a domicilios de terceros, todos los accesorios estuvieran disponibles únicamente bajo petición. La Junta de Supervisores del Condado de Los Angeles siguió el ejemplo y en Febrero de 2021 pasó una moción similar de forma unánime tras ser introducida por Sheila Kuehl, miembro de la junta.
Esta legislación reconoce que los miembros de la comunidad pueden necesitar pajitas/ popotes/pajillas, utensilios y / u otros accesorios para alimentos de un solo uso. Es crucial que los restaurantes y las aplicaciones de entrega de terceros promuevan y brinden opciones para todos. Este modelo “a pedido” está estructurado intencionalmente para cumplir con todos los requisitos y adaptaciones de la ADA para garantizar un acceso equitativo para disfrutar fácilmente de comidas en el lugar, comida para llevar o entregas en los restaurantes de Los Ángeles. Según esta ordenanza, las empresas pueden proporcionar accesorios para alimentos a los clientes que los soliciten.
Restaurantes y aplicaciones de entrega a domicilio deberían por defecto, no entregar accesorios de un solo uso para los pedidos, a menos que el cliente los solicite. Cambiar a este modelo de accesorios “bajo pedido” elimina basura innecesaria y ahorra dinero a los establecimientos. Los Angeles ha hecho esto antes con los popotes bajo pedido. En un momento en el que los negocios pequeños y los restaurantes están luchando por mantenerse a flote, esta es una solución simple para recortar costes excesivos y contaminación por plástico. Apoyamos estas ordenanzas porque son una solución donde todos ganan, las comunidades de LA, los negocios y el medioambiente.
Contamos con su apoyo para pasar esta ordenanza, así que pase a la acción mediante los enlaces de aquí abajo y manténgase a la escucha para más novedades de #DejaElDesperdicio.
Q: How did you work with Heal the Bay on the book?
A: I first reached out to Heal the Bay in early 2019. I had written The Big Beach Cleanup and was looking to connect with experts regarding fact checking recycling and ocean cleanupfacts. I live in Los Angeles and am familiar with the important work that Heal the Bay does to protect our oceans, so I decided to ask for their help. Nancy Shrodes, the Associate Director of Policy & Outreach, kindly agreed to review my manuscript and offer her feedback. Since then numerous staff members at Heal the Bay have continued to offer assistance, including providing input on additional educational materials for the book as well as generously offering to do a live animal feeding at The Big Beach Cleanup virtual launch event!
Q: What inspired you to write about a beach cleanup?
A: One day while walking with my children, I stopped to pick up a piece of trash that was in our way and toss it in a nearby trashcan. Throwing away that piece of trash sparked endless questions from my ever-curious children. They wanted to know where the trash had come from and how it got there in the first place. We ended up in big conversations around pollution and doing our part to protect the planet.It was on that walk that I decided to write an ocean advocacy story featuring little hands joining together to make big change. I went home that day and wrote the first draft of what would eventually become The Big Beach Cleanup!
Q: What was the most interesting thing you learned while working on this book? A: Honestly the most interesting thing I found is how immune we can become to the things that are right in front of us. I have lived and walked around Los Angeles for a long time. I have also cared about the planet and my environmental footprint for a long time, but it wasn’t until I began working on this book that my eyes really opened to how prevalent our pollution problem is and how frequently it is right in front of me on a daily basis. There is no shortage of trash in Los Angeles, not only on our beaches but right on the streets in my very own neighborhood. On my regular walk with my kids we always find trash, even if we have been picking up trash on that same walk the day before. Things get dropped, trash bags aren’t tied properly and more and more we are finding discarded masks and disposable containers. We really need everyone to join together and make conscious changes in order to tackle this growing problem.
Q: Has the book inspired you to make any single-use plastic swaps at home?
A: Writing this book has encouraged my family to look around our home and evaluate our daily waste. We have been replacing individually wrapped items with bulk sizes and make an effort to use refillable containers whenever possible, we have tried to make choices that avoid plastic containers and to purchase less ‘stuff’ (toys, general excess) overall.
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from the book? A: My hope is that The Big Beach Cleanup shows readers that big changes begin with small steps. I hope that readers are inspired to think about the changes they want to see in the world, to know that they can make a difference, and are encouraged to join together with those around them to create those changes. I hope they walk away knowing that their hands matter and are needed.
Q: What is your favorite beach in California? A: Every summer since my husband was little his family has spent time in Coronado. When I met my husband, I was warmly welcomed into this tradition and I look forward to spending time at the beach on Coronado island every year. Locally though we love to visit Will Rogers State Beach as it is close to where my in–laws live and they are often able to join us there!
CHARLOTTE OFFSAY was born in England, grew up in Boston, and currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two small children. Through her work, Charlotte hopes to make children laugh, to inspire curiosity, and to create a magical world her readers can lose themselves in time and time again.
Charlotte’s debut picture book, The Big Beach Cleanup, illustrated by Kate Rewse will be published by Albert Whitman in Spring 2021, followed by How to Return a Monster, illustrated by Rea Zhai releasing Fall 2021 with Beaming Books. A Grandma’s Magic, illustrated by Asa Gilland will be published by Doubleday Books for Young Readers in Spring 2022.
Elected officials in Los Angeles are taking legislative action to reduce takeout trash after a steep increase in single-use plastic consumption. But what does it mean to “Skip the Stuff”? And how does it help fight plastic pollution? Let’s dive in.
Skip the Stuff is the latest legislative push through Heal the Bay’s plastics work with the Reusable LA coalition. #SkipTheStuff would require takeout and delivery “extras” — like single-use utensils, straws, condiments, napkins, and more — to be provided only upon request. If you need them, you can get them. If you don’t, no need to waste.
The use of single-use plastic has skyrocketed due to COVID-19, including here in Los Angeles, where our beloved local restaurants are forced to rely primarily on takeout and delivery. Consumption of single-use plastics has increased by 250% – 300% since the pandemic began, with a 30% increase in waste attributed in part to disposable foodware. Nationwide, billions of food accessories are thrown away each year, many of which aren’t even used once. (Many of us even keep them in that dreaded drawer of takeout “extras”, hoping that they’ll be used one day.)
The vast majority of these single-use items cannot be recycled. They add to the plastic pollution crisis, litter our neighborhoods, rivers, and ocean, and clog already overfilled landfills. Using fossil fuels to produce plastic items that aren’t even used is the last thing we need during a climate crisis. These impacts also present significant environmental justice issues, with frontline and fenceline communities bearing a disproportionate burden of the impacts from climate change, fossil fuel extraction, and incineration associated with single-use waste. Heal the Bay and Reusable LA are advocating for #SkipTheStuff legislation in both Los Angeles City and Los Angeles County. In January 2021, Los Angeles City Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian introduced a motion to draft city-wide legislation to #SkipTheStuff. It would require all foodware accessories to be available only upon request for takeout, delivery, and third-party delivery apps. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors followed suit in February 2021 and unanimously passed a similar motion after it was introduced by Boardmember Sheila Kuehl.
This legislation recognizes that community members may need single-use straws, utensils, and/or other foodware accessories. It is crucial that restaurants and third-party delivery apps readily promote and provide accommodations for all. This “on request” model is intentionally structured to meet all ADA requirements and accommodations to ensure equitable access to easily enjoy dine-in, takeout, or delivery from LA eateries. Under this ordinance, businesses may provide foodware accessories to customers who request them. Restaurants and food delivery apps should default to no single-use accessories for orders, unless the customer requests them. Switching to foodware accessories “upon request” reduces unnecessary waste and saves restaurants money. Los Angeles has done this before with straws on request. At a time when local restaurants and small businesses are struggling to stay open, this is a simple solution to cut down on both excess costs and plastic pollution. We support these ordinances as a win-win for our LA communities, businesses, and environment. We’re counting on your support to get this ordinance passed, so take action below and stay tuned for updates on how you can #SkipTheStuff.
Failure is not defeat when we hold ourselves accountable, learn, improve, and move forward together. Our Science and Policy team highlights some environmental policy woes in Part 2 below, and in Part 1 we reflect on wins from the past year.
In a year like 2020, it is worth the time to celebrate our environmental policy wins. But it may be even more important to recognize our woes, setbacks, and challenges. Failure is a part of life, and it may be painful at times, but it does not mean defeat. It is an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to find ways to improve our work moving forward. Let’s reflect on three of our 2020 environmental policy woes, and set some new goals for 2021.
California Environmental Legislation
It was a challenging year in the CA legislature. With critical COVID-19 relief bills understandably taking priority, many environmental bills that were expected to pass this year did not make it through. One major loss was Senate Bill 54 and Assembly Bill 1080, twin bills also known as the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, which would have set a goal of reducing single-use plastic waste by 75% by 2030. Following heavy and expensive lobbying campaigns from the plastics industry, these bills narrowly missed passing on the final day of the legislative season in August.
While this was a devastating blow, there were also wins in plastic pollution reduction policy this year. Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 793into law, making California the first state in the country to set minimum levels for recycled content in beverage containers. California residents also got the Plastics Free California Initiativeon the 2022 ballot. If it passes, this initiative would be the most comprehensive plastic pollution reduction policy in the nation. Heal the Bay is not giving up the fight and we are ready to push for strong plastics legislation in the coming year. Sign up to learn more on this from Reusable LA.
Offshore DDT Dumping
The recent discovery (as reported by the LA Times) of a very large number of dumped barrels of DDT off the coast of Los Angeles was a shock to us and many others who have been working on issues surrounding DDT contamination for over 30 years. We knew about the other large site contaminated by DDT and PCBs on the Palos Verde Shelf, but this new discovery of a potentially similar sized underwater DDT dump was devastating, to say the least. The news left us with many questions. Who is responsible and how can we hold corporate polluters accountable? What is the impact to marine ecosystems and human health? Can this pollution be cleaned up?
Heal the Bay is currently meeting with elected officials, government agencies, and partners to push for increased scientific understanding of the problem, increased education and outreach particularly to communities at risk from contaminated fish, and increased accountability and transparency.
Stormwater Regulation with the MS4 Permit
The Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit regulates stormwater pollution. The LA County MS4 Permit has been around since 1990, and yet stormwater is still the leading source of water pollution. The lack of accountability in the last MS4 Permit has allowed permittees to fall woefully behind schedule in reducing this pollution. Although renewal of this critical MS4 Permit is already 3 years behind schedule, adoption was again delayed until 2021. Unfortunately, permittees have dominated this process, demanding a weaker permit at the expense of our surface water quality, and so far the Los Angeles Regional Water Board has been receptive to their grumbles.
Heal the Bay’s Take LA by Storm campaign launched this year to provide support for new advocates to engage in this permit process, too. Voices from respected NGOs across LA County attended the Regional Board’s October MS4 Workshop; and in December, 34 NGOs and 19 individual community members weighed in through written comments. We are starting to shift the narrative as the Board hears from communities, but there is still a lot to do before permit adoption in summer 2021.
Heal the Bay will continue to advocate for a strong permit and provide better support to LA communities.Sign up to Take LA by Storm, and together we can hold permittees accountable and reduce stormwater pollution.