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Students Make Waves Over Spring Break

blug_slugCALPIRG students travel the coast to ban Styrofoam
This spring break, 50 California Student Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) students took to the beach to draw attention to plastic pollution and to encourage banning polystyrene. The “Wave of Change” tour kicked off Sunday, March 21 with a beach cleanup at San Diego’s Ocean Beach Pier, and will end in Sacramento this Thursday, March 25.

Part of a network of college student groups opposing rising college costs, advocating for the California High-Speed Rail Initiative, and protecting the coastline, CALPIRG hopes to focus on the latter by helping pass a statewide ban on Styrofoam takeout containers. They planned this tour of the California Coast “to shine a spotlight on the garbage that dirties our beaches and show the support of local communities, and legislators for a Styrofoam ban,” according to their website.

Beach cleanups are organized at many of the tour’s seven stops (San Diego, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and Sacramento), along with meetings with public officials and press conferences, where students and community leaders will talk about the threat plastic pollution poses to our oceans and why they believe the answer lies in a statewide ban on single-use, polystyrene take-out containers.

California has some of the most beautiful beaches and coast in the entire world, but many of them are affected by plastic pollution. There is a pile of trash 1,000 miles off the coast of California that is twice the size of Texas. Not only is plastic pollution an eyesore, it endangers marine life and is frequently mistaken for food by birds and sea mammals.

“One of the worst forms of plastic pollution is Styrofoam,” according to CALPIRG’s website, “specifically single-use take-out containers. Styrofoam breaks into smaller and smaller pieces but never fully biodegrades. It is almost impossible to recycle.” 

The Wave of Change tour passed through Santa Cruz on March 23, and several elected officials joined the students in cleaning the beach and recording the types of trash they found—mostly plastic in various forms.

The City of Santa Cruz has already banned the use of Styrofoam, but city officials urged other cities and the state to do the same. Santa Cruz Mayor Mike Rotkin was one of the speakers at a press conference held after the beach cleanup. “Although the City of Santa Cruz has already banned the use of Styrofoam, we all share one ocean,” he said. “If we are going to stop the negative impacts of Styrofoam on our environment in general, and specifically on marine life in the Monterey Bay and the ocean, it will take action at the state level to effect that outcome.”

The final stops on the tour will be the Berkeley Marina for a press conference and a lobby day on Capitol Hill in Sacramento.



To see the full itinerary, visit the tour’s page: calpirgstudents.org/spring-break-tour

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