Think about how often you use a piece of plastic.

Maybe it was the straw in your Starbucks this morning, or the plastic bag you carried through the mall this weekend. As Californians, plastic use follows us everywhere we go. But what we don’t keep in mind is where it ends up.

Plastic pollution has become a more massive environmental issue in recent years. Not only does it affect our planet as a whole, it injures marine animals and disrupts human hormones.

California throws away 123,000 tons of plastic bags yearly. Most of this trash ends up in our oceans. There are currently 100 million tons of trash in the North Pacific Gyre and other parts of the Pacific Ocean.

For a larger perspective: the plastic population in our oceans outweighs
plankton six to one.

Plastic in our oceans has done a large amount of harm thus far. Plastic largely affects seafaring life who mistake the plastic for food and die of suffocation. Seabirds tend to fed the smaller plastic pieces to their chicks, mistaking them for food. .

However, change is being made and COC students can help.

College of the Canyons students can join the COC Environmentalist group, which works to end plastic usage waste on campus, and bring awareness to the causes of plastic pollution.

Other ways for students to participate in reducing their plastic waste outside of campus as
well include investing in a reusable coffee cup. This would cut down on plastic waste exponentially, eliminating the use of four separate cups or straws daily. Our local coffee shops are also taking part in making this difference and you can, too.

“We’re selling reusable cups for both hot and cold drinks that customers can bring themselves and
even get a 10 percent discount by using one,” an employee at the Stevenson Ranch Starbucks said.

California has also passed the plastic straw ban eliminating plastic straw usage starting January 2019. Gov. Jerry Brown passed a bill stating that California restaurants can no longer provide straws for customers, unless requested.

In more than 108 communities within California, the usage of plastic bags have been banned. After the bill passing in August of 2014, California became the first state to enact the statewide ban on plastic bag usage at large retail stores. The bill also stated that a use for plastic bags would require a 10 cent fee.

For more information about plastic usage waste in California and how you can help, visit https://
www.earthday.org/take-action/.

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