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Watsonville and Santa Cruz launch Plastic Free July Challenge, encourage residents to reduce waste size.
The cities of Watsonville and Santa Cruz are detoxifying, joining forces and embarking on a 31-day challenge for City staff and residents alike to reduce their combined plastic footprint. Cleanses are always more fun with a buddy, and both cities are encouraging residents to get beach-ready by dramatically decreasing their daily, plastic intake for a slimmer waste can size. Throughout July, Watsonville and Santa Cruz will offer support and incentives to participants, even a virtual Reusable Bootcamp with tips and tricks for success. Challenge members are asked to follow simple steps in their daily routine to adopt sustainability habits for the entire month of July and beyond, engaging with environmental staff through social media and at outreach events. Both waste management districts recognize that reducing single-use plastic consumption is one of the easiest ways to look good poolside or at a family party while making a big sustainability splash this summer.
Becoming beach-ready extends beyond personal health to include central coast environmental quality, where plastic pollution is a mounting issue in local wetlands, rivers, and the Monterey Bay. Single-use plastics are designed to be used once and then thrown away, often including items like plastic straws, water bottles, food wrappers, plastic bags, throwaway cutlery, condiment wrappers, and coffee cup lids. These items are ubiquitous, are increasingly challenging to recycle or not recyclable at all, and require a huge amount of resources for their production and disposal. Many expendable plastics end up in landfills where they take up valuable space or they are blown and washed down storm drains, polluting Monterey Bay waterways extending to the ocean.
Plastic Free July arrives on the heels of two announcements from China in January and March, enacting their National Sword and Blue Sky 2018 policies, effectively banning the import of several materials formerly deemed recyclable, such as mixed paper and certain plastics. This policy intends to improve environmental quality for Chinese citizens and will require other nations to turn back the mirror, and reflect upon and refine stateside waste management strategies.
“While the City of Watsonville examines larger, longer term resolutions related to our plastics disposal and recycling streams, we are heartened by the Plastic Free July challenge as it presents an immediate way to engage our entire community in solution building” encouraged Mike Rivera, City of Watsonville Solid Waste Division Manager. He continued, “Quitting single-use plastics is not a fad diet but a lifestyle change. We know our residents and businesses will band together and take pride in this call for plastic waste reduction.”
To support the shift, the challenge group will celebrate Plastic Free July, taking a day-by-day approach through a shared Facebook account and via community outreach venues. The first hurdle is creating a sustainable Fourth of July celebration focused on plastic-free BBQs and limiting recreational fireworks. Both cities are asking residents to recruit family members and friends, to sign up for their co-sponsored plastics cleanse coaching to receive waste reduction life hacks, and to enter to win prizes and recognition for meeting outlined waste size reduction goals.