California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG), along with Environment California and organizers of the event, CALPIRG's Student Chapter at UC Berkeley, held a press conference Wednesday, October 12, on the campus of UC Berkeley.
Julia Ritchie, Environment California's Ocean Associate, stated: "The purpose of the press conference was twofold. We wanted to press the City of Berkeley to move forward with a plastic bag ban and present Berkeley City Councilman Kriss Worthington with 3,000 signed petition cards advocating the ban".
Ms. Ritchie is the Ocean Associate at Environment California, a sister organization to CALPIRG. "There are ten Student Chapters of CALPIRG across the state of California and this year all chapters voted to make plastic bag bans their #1 priority", stated Ms. Ritchie.
CALPIRG Press Event
Held on the steps of Sproul Hall on the campus of UC Berkeley, notables attending the event were Berkeley City Councilman Kriss Worthington along with Robert Hass, UC Berkeley English professor, former poet laureate, and 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner.
"This is not a very complicated issue," stated Mr. Hass. "There were no plastic bags before 1950 and we got along just fine without them. Now, there are tons and tons of them in the ocean. The destruction is enormous to seabirds, turtles and jellyfish. We live in a throwaway culture and need to begin to be less heedless of how we treat the environment."
Councilman Worthington stated: "Plastic bags kill. Berkeley is way to late in banning plastic bags. Too late to be first, but we need to catch up with other cities."
Ocean Week at Berkeley
The press event was part of Ocean Week, a week-long series of activities about the ocean on the campus of UC Berkeley. Hosted by CALPIRG, Ocean Week events included an Oceans Carnival - Play “Gone Fishin", a Plastic vs Turtle Tug-o-War, and other classics. Wednesday night, CALPIRG students held a screening of the film "Bag It' to raise awareness of the harms of plastic, and Thursday, CALPIRG sponsored a free reusable bag give-away. Closing ceremonies will include digital photos of the ocean and sea life.
Julia Ritchie, Environment California
"When plastic bags land in the ocean, they harm marine life", stated Ms. Ritchie. "They are eaten by fish that end up on our dinner plate. Plastic bags also cost California millions of dollars each year in coastal clean-up costs." Ms. Ritchie further stated: "Nothing that is used for such a short time should last forever in our oceans."
City of Berkeley
The City of Berkeley has been considering a plastic bag ban or fee for several years. See PBBR article "Berkeley Proposes Bag Ban" written last year.
Photo: Courtesy of Julia of Environment California. CALPIRG Student Chapter "Ban Plastic Bags" press conference at UC Berkeley. (left to right) Patrick Smith - CALPIRG bag monster; Hannah Laura Hage - CALPIRG Ocean Week coordinator; Joey Freeman - ASUC external affairs vice president; Julia Ritchie - Environment California Ocean Associate; Megan Majd - CALPIRG Ocean Intern (behind); CALPIRG students; Berkeley City Councilman Kriss Worthington speaking. Courtesy: Julia Ritchie Goal: Ban Plastic Bags in the City of Berkeley