Southern California environment news and trends

Bad diet: Pacific birds eating increasing amount of plastic

It’s a sad fact that many bird species have a propensity for eating plastic. Given the amount of trash strewn throughout the world’s oceans, there’s no shortage of the stuff for animals to choke down. As reported by Treehugger, a new study by a team of American and Canadian scientists has found that seabirds of the North Pacific are consuming alarming amounts of plastic that rank among the highest rates in the world.

“The results are troubling,” said Stephanie Avery-Gomm, an author of the study who along with five other scientists analyzed 67 dead seabirds (known as Northern Fulmars) found on shores from Long Beach all the way up to British Columbia and Vancouver Island. “The large amount of plastic ingested by fulmars from the eastern North Pacific are approaching the high levels which have been documented previously in the historically polluted North Sea, where fulmars have been used as an indicator species of ocean health for decades… It is safe to say, based on earlier studies from the North Pacific, plastic ingestion in Northern Fulmars, and therefore plastic pollution, has increased in the North Pacific over the past forty years.”


LA city council's vote on a bag ban: forward movement, yes. Historic? Not quite

Molly Peterson/KPCC

Even in a small market like Grocery Warehouse, LA sanitation workers are ready to talk to people in 5 languages, a sign of the city's diversity.

Over at the L.A. Times, they’re hailing a step that L.A. City Council took toward banning plastic bags as historic. Over here, we’re not. It seems to be worth explaining why.

First, a bit of history. Richard Alarcon joked today at a press conference before the council meeting: “What took so long?” He made that joke because the idea of a bag ban in L.A. first got kicked around seriously four years ago, and he and then-councilwoman Janice Hahn did a lot of the kicking.

Now, let’s get to why this isn’t historic.

The City of Los Angeles did not pass the first bag ban in the state. That honor goes to the hometown of my favorite baseball team, and their ban was actually the first in the country. San Francisco is actually in a second phase of their ordinance.

The City of Los Angeles did not defend its environmental impact report justifying a bag ban all the way to the state Supreme Court. That honor goes to Manhattan Beach, which argued and won the case last year.


California students petition Crayola for marker recycling

Mercer 16539

ALL_CAPS/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

Kids go through a lot of markers. From school projects to decorating notebook covers with band logos, those finger-staining mainstays of classic American school supplies are as ubiquitous as No. 2 pencils.

For some 40 grade-schoolers in San Rafael, California, the sheer volume of student marker usage was the inspiration behind a new petition urging Crayola to develop a recycling program for used plastic markers.

"The idea evolved from conversations with kids about plastic waste and they immediately identified with how many Crayola plastic markers they had thrown away," said Land Wilson, a parent of one of the Sun Valley School students behind the petition to "We simply want Crayola to establish an easy take back program that kids can partake in  -- i.e. prepaid return envelopes with their products or dropoff locations at retail outlets and schools."