The UCLA chapter of the California Student Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG Students) hosted a Beach Cleanup on the 26th of October to advocate for the University of California system to ban single use plastics which are polluting our oceans. The goal of the beach clean up was to bring light to the issue of plastic pollution and to clean parts of the Santa Monica beach. A press conference was also hosted where State Senator Ben Allen gave an inspiring speech about the importance of protecting our oceans from plastic pollution. Student leaders from CALPIRG Students and UCLA’s Student Wellness Commission gave speeches about the importance of our oceans and the unnecessary use of plastics.

CALPIRG Students advocates to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastic products, including bags, straws, and foam containers.

“Plastic fragments have been found ingested by hundreds of different species, including 100% of all recently studied sea turtles, and nearly half of all seabird and marine mammal species. This is a serious issue and it’s time for us to tackle it,” said UCLA CALPIRG Students Chapter Chair and Plastic Free Seas Campaign Coordinator Sithara Menon. “We know that it is possible to go plastic free. We just have to take the next steps towards using reusable, and biodegradable containers!”

State Senator Ben Allen, author of the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act (Senate Bill 54) , spoke on his landmark bill which would drastically reduce plastic pollution in California to protect our environment for the future. “Our culture of convenience is sacrificing our ecological future”, said Senator Allen. The senator thanked CALPIRG Students for their advocacy, saying that moving the UC system away from single-use plastics will serve as a model, and that the whole state of California can follow in the footsteps of the UC system.

CALPIRG Students is aiming to gather 10,000 petitions in support of phasing out all single use plastics in the UC system, and will be signing up 8,000 UC Students as dues paying members of their statewide association in support of this initiative to fund their program. CALPIRG Student worked with the UCs just this past year to commit all the campuses to 100% clean purchased electricity. “As a student, I’m really excited that the UCs took this huge step in protecting our environment, and we know the UCs can take the next big step and lead the way in sustainability by phasing out single use plastics!” said Nicholas Fay, CALPIRG Students Beach Cleanup Coordinator.

The speeches were followed by students cleaning up the Santa Monica beach, collecting over 10 full bags of trash that would have ended up in the ocean.

Submitted by Sithara Menon, Plastic Free Seas Campaign Intern

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