2012 Santa Cruz Earth Day Event Single Largest Clean Up To Date in Monterey Bay

The 2012 Santa Cruz Earth Day event had 1000’s of attendees with impressive clean up results. Save Our Shores, an environmental organization located in Santa Cruz, California, and large contributor to the event, sponsored four public community cleanups around Santa Cruz.  The community cleanups attracted more than 550 volunteers who removed 850 pounds of pollution at seven clean up sites. In contrast to 2011, 300 volunteers removed over 2,400 pounds of pollution from just two site locations. The Santa Cruz County plastic bag ban, which went into effect on March 20, 2012, contributed to less plastic bag waste found throughout the cleanup sites.

According to Colleen Bednarz, Communications Coordinator at Save Our Shores, “The Save Our Shores booth had hundreds of passers by. Some folks stopped to talk about all of the recent momentum and news about plastic bag bans locally and around the nation, and were surprised and gracious when they found out about the bag giveaways sponsored by Custom Grocery Bags. We consider it a very successful endeavor. The word got out about the great reusable bags, and when new folks stopped by to receive their bag, many wound up down at our San Lorenzo River Cleanup  directly adjacent to the Festival grounds!”

The Santa Cruz County plastic bag ban, which prohibits the use of plastic takeout bags at all retailers and imposes a fee on paper bags, went into effect on March 20, 2012. The Bag Reduction Ordinance prohibits all retailers from providing plastic carryout bags to customers and requires all retailers to charge a minimum $.10 fee for each single use paper bag provided to customers at check out. The paper bags sold must be made of recyclable paper containing a minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled content.  A lawsuit filed by the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition pressured the County to remove restaurants from the ban, which the county did.

Earth Day events and plastic bag bans continue to gain momentum around the globe.  Plastic bag bans have already occured in countries like Bangladesh, the first country to ban polyethylene bags in 2002, as well as Ireland, South Africa, India, China, Italy, Spain, Wales, and others.  This year, around one billion people from over 190 countries took part in the 42nd Anniversary of Earth Day. The Earth Day Network and A Billion Acts of Green was a large contributor to the success of Earth Day globally.

The 2012 Santa Cruz Earth Day event hosted four public cleanups that took place at the San Lorenzo River at Water Street Bridge, Cowell/Main Beach, Manresa State Beach, and at Del Monte Beach at Wharf #2 in Monterey.  The four river cleanups along the San Lorenzo River removed 315 pounds of pollution.  Of that, 244 pounds were trash and 71 pounds were recyclables.  At the clean up sites of Cowell/Main Beach, Manresa State Beach, and Del Monte Beach, over 420 volunteers worked to pick up 459 pounds of trash and 79 pounds of recycling, for a total 538 pounds of pollution removed from area beaches in under three hours. The 2012 Santa Cruz Earth Day event was the single largest clean up to date in Monterey Bay with Custom Grocery Bags holding the goods.

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