Last month my husband Stephen Box and I launched LA Green Screen, a screening series to raise awareness about our environment, our planet and about the heath of our communities. We screened the film Bag It, which followed a panel discussion with Katherine Rubin, Managing Environmental Specialist from LADWP Sustainability Programs, Meredith McCarthy, Director of Programs of Heal the Bay, and Andy Shrader, an Independent member of the Clean Seas Coalition and co-lead grassroots organizer for Los Angeles citywide plastic bag ban push.
My husband moderated and the panel speakers were passionate and knowledgeable and questions from the audience ranged from the safety of LA’s tap water to how to pick up dog poo without using plastic bags.
According to Katherine Rubin from the LADWP, LA has one of the cleanest waters and there is no need to buy bottled water. She said that she drinks from the tap without filtering it and since she works at the LADWP she knows that the water that she drinks is safe and healthy.
LADWP monitors their waters under very strict guidelines and they test the water every day of the year, including weekends and holidays. The bottling manufacturers do not need to follow the same strict state and federal guidelines and regulations, in fact, when some bottling companies were tested, harmful chemicals were found in their bottled water.
So, to get rid of some plastic in your life, drink from the tap and attach a filter if you don’t like the taste. It is healthier for you and for the planet.
Our second speaker Meredith McCarthy from Heal the Bay is working hard on the plastic bag ban here in Southern California and she told us about hit and miss events, where they organized groups of volunteers to clean up the beach, while at the same time giving them bottled water to stay hydrated. She laughed as she recalled the moment when they realized how backwards that was but Meredith said, they keep on improving and learning every day, always keeping in mind that the main goal is to keep the bay and our waters healthy.
Meredith has been working with Coby Sky, Civil Engineer at Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, to successfully ban plastic bags in LA County and she continues her work all over the City of LA to protect our waters and our planet from the plastic pollution.
According to the waste facts on CleanAir.org:
- The state of California spends about 25 million dollars sending plastic bags to landfill each year, and another 8.5 million dollars to remove littered bags from streets.
- Every year, Americans use approximately 1 billion shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of landfill waste
- Plastic bags do not biodegrade. Light breaks them down into smaller and smaller particles that contaminate the soil and water and are expensive and difficult to remove.
- Less than 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled each year. Recycling one ton of plastic bags costs $4,000. The recycled product can be sold for $32.
- When the small particles from photodegraded plastic bags get into the water, they are ingested by filter feeding marine animals. Biotoxins like PCBs that are in the particles are then passed up the food chain, including up to humans.
- The City of San Francisco determined that it costs 17 cents for them to handle each discarded bag.
If you want to help with the plastic ban, which by the way only applies to single use “t-shirt” bags, not produce bags, you can easily start at home by always carrying your own canvas bag to the store, and encouraging your friends and family to do the same. If you own a business, visit and get some inspiration there.
Andy Shrader, our third panel, was just as passionate about the plastic ban, which he pursues as a volunteer. He is working on changing the word, one bag at a time and one letter at a time. Andy brought with him signs and letters and envelopes and sign in sheets to the screening to get a pledge from the audience and to mail handwritten letters to Senator Curren Price. He has visited a few Neighborhood Councils already to get them to commit to the plastic ban and he set up a blog with some suggestions on how you can help make a difference and help with the plastic ban initiative.
If you want to help with environmental issues, join us at the next screening. LA Green Screen is pleased to announce that the League of Women Voters of L.A. will be screening Climate Refugees followed by a panel discussion by leading climate experts at the Barnsdall Park Gallery Theatre, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., CA 90028 at 6:30pm on Wednesday May 11th. The evening begins with a 6:30pm reception, screening starts at 7pm and is immediately followed by a panel discussion of local climate policy experts. Come hear what we Angelenos can do now to mitigate our carbon footprint.