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  • Writer's pictureAnneli Chow

Broaden Your Impact!

Updated: Jul 23, 2021

- Anneli Chow, Summer Intern 2021

Take these actions against plastic pollution to ensure your voice is heard at the City, State, Federal, and Global Levels

This summer, GreenTown is raising awareness about the global plastic pollution crisis and encouraging community members to take actions that support a plastic-free future. In Week #1, we shared resources that introduce and explain the multifaceted plastic problem. During Week #2, we shared steps everyone can take to refuse, reduce, and recycle plastic in our daily lives. Individual education and action are impactful and necessary in any movement, but not sufficient. Plastic production depends on fossil fuels, a major contributor to climate change. As oil and gas demand declines, fossil fuel producers turn to plastics to uphold the fossil fuel industry. The plastic pollution problem cannot be fixed without holding producers accountable and handing them waste management responsibility. To make plastic-free life the “new” norm, society needs progressive plastic policies, advocacy, and legislation.

The world is waking up to the plastic problem. The Green New Deal, Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, calls for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), and climate strikes show how awareness has grown and spread to countries all around the world. This week, you will learn about plastic policies and ways you can make sure your voice is heard on the local, state, federal, and even international levels. We can influence the way our future plays out - and in the coming years, we will not allow plastic, microplastic, and plastic-derived chemicals to pollute our oceans and freshwater or harm our families and wildlife.

Individual efforts can prompt change at the city level. When many cities implement similar policies, this drives change at the state level. Unanimity between states urges federal lawmakers to act. Every step along this legislative chain matters. This is where you can make the biggest impact. Let’s all do our part!

Stay Involved

Legislation can cause considerable change when pushed for consistently and passionately. GreenTown asks YOU to STAY INVOLVED in saving our planet from the plastic pollution crisis by SUBSCRIBING to the GreenTown Los Altos’ monthly newsletter. Act Now and Stay Involved for a cleaner and greener city, country, and planet!


Local Actions

  • Advocate for the reintroduction of a plastic food-ware ordinance: Last year, the City Council discussed a foodware ordinance to limit single-use plastics. This ordinance vote was postponed due to economic strain on restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the pandemic underscored the importance of city policy to reduce restaurant plastic use, given the increased reliance on takeout and the plastic containers and utensils that come with it. Let the Los Altos City Council know that you care about this issue and help ensure this ordinance is a priority on their agenda by emailing Ask our council members to adopt an ordinance at least as stringent as the Santa Clara County model ordinance AND require reusables for dine-in eating.

  • Take the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) Survey: Los Altos is developing a CAAP to address and lessen the impacts of climate change, focusing on greenhouse gasses. Because plastics are derived from fossil fuels – the primary driver of climate change – your input is valuable as the city develops appropriate measures to include in the CAAP. The deadline to fill out the Los Altos CAAP Survey is August 8, 2021.

  • Speak out to local businesses: Let restaurants implementing sustainable practices (limiting plastic, filling personal reusable containers) know that you approve AND encourage those still using single-use plastics to work towards using compostables or reusables!


State Actions

  • Speak up for Assembly Bill 818 - Proper Disposal of Wipes: Believe it or not, most sanitary wipes contain plentiful amounts of plastic. When inappropriately flushed, they cause clogs and blockages in our waste disposal systems. AB818 will require single-use wipes to be clearly labelled to avoid flushing. Read a letter in support of AB818 or view the official bill.

  • Speak up for Assembly Bill 1276 - Reducing Unnecessary Foodware: Source reduction of inessential plastics is a great way to protect our resources and health. AB1276 provides information you can use to tell our Sacramento representatives they should vote YES for this bill. Phone or email Assemblymember Marc Berman and State Senator Josh Becker (contact below) regarding AB818 and AB1276.

Assembly Member: Marc Berman Phone: (916) 319-2024 Contact by Email

State Senator: Josh Becker Phone: (916) 651-4013 Contact by Email

  • It’s Official! California Recycling and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act on November 2022 Ballot: In November 2022, California voters will have the chance to make our state the first in the nation to approve a law that could halt major sources of plastic pollution. This measure will:

    • Prevent and clean up harmful plastic pollution in order to protect communities and preserve natural resources

    • Reduce sources of plastic pollution

    • Cut recycling, pollution prevention, and clean up costs for taxpayers and municipalities

    • Require plastic producers to share those costs (Extended Producer Responsibility, EPR)

We encourage you to look at this ballot measure and its value in California. Make sure to look for it on the November 2022 general election ballot!


Federal Actions

  • Support the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act (BFFPPA): The federal Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act contains provisions that would:

    • Hold companies accountable for their wasteful products

    • Strengthen regulations on plastic facilities to protect communities

    • Prohibit the use of toxic chemicals in certain containers and packaging

    • Push to increase reusables and refillables

    • Improve recycling and composting infrastructure

    • And more - sign the petition here!

  • Advocate for the National Bottle Bill: Currently, nine US states have Bottle Bills which effectively reduce waste directed to landfills in those states. In the remaining 41 states, beverage containers constitute 40-60% of litter! Implementing a National Bottle Bill would:

    • Allow customers in all states to return eligible bottles and containers to retailers and redemption centers

    • Promote recycling rates of 58-95% (Northeast Recycling Council) and reduce litter

    • Shift end-of-use handling costs from taxpayers and municipalities to producers (EPR)

    • Set a $0.10 deposit standard, providing income for those who collect bottles at redemption centers

Learn more about the bill and ensure your message in a bottle is noticed by our members of Congress using these guidelines!


Global Actions

  • Ratification of the Basel Convention: Where does your trash go when you throw it “away”? Unfortunately, the truth holds deafening injustice. Many wealthy nations ship their plastic trash to developing countries that lack adequate recycling infrastructure. Developing nations already struggle to handle their own waste – a plastic problem introduced by Western nations. Nearly all nations have signed on to the Basel Convention, which concerns the transport of hazardous waste between nations and developed to less developed countries. The US has not ratified this convention. However, California recently passed a resolution urging the US to do so! Read the letter that was sent to the Biden Administration and follow the progress on the implementation of this important international agreement here.

  • Sign World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Global Plastics Petition: Join millions of others to fight against marine plastic pollution by signing WWF's largest petition. This petition will urge governments to create legally binding agreements to stop the leakage of plastics into our oceans by 2030. Such agreements would likely have an even larger impact than the Basel Convention in pushing nations to reduce their plastic pollution!

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