The Volunteer Newsletter of Heal the Bay
Toxic Single-Use Plastic Bags Plastic No. 6
By Kirsten James By Jyoti Gaur
Can I get that to go? A must in our throw
away society, polystyrene (plastic # 6) is a
versatile material made from erethylene and
benzene and can be easily molded. It is
also a wonderful insulator-the reason many
restaurants/coffee shops opt for this product
over alternatives. Polystyrene is found in Styrofoam® containers,
packaging material (peanuts), insulation, egg cartons, disposable
cups and bowls, and plastic cutlery. Polystyrene is also used as a
building material, with electrical appliances (light switches and
Heal the Bay speaks out! Photo By Polly Barrowman
plates), and in other household items. So when you cringe at the
word Styrofoam®, you are actually cringing at a form of polystyrene-
L.A. County sets bad precedent with plastic bag law. our # 6 plastic.
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Can we recycle it?
passed a motion to explore the issue of polyethylene plastic bag con-
sumption and the possibility of pursuing a plastic bag policy similar to Polystyrene is not easily recyclable because of its lightweight and low
that of San Francisco and other communities. In preparing their re- scrap value. Also, once contaminated with food, the scrap value de-
port, County staff found that an estimated 6 billion plastic bags are creases even more. Many curbside programs do not accept polysty-
used each year in Los Angeles County and only a small fraction of rene because of its small market, which continues to shrink. Although
bags is actually recycled. As you all know, many of these bags end the City of Los Angeles currently accepts all plastics 1 through 7-
up in our creeks and ocean. including Styrofoam®, it is unclear how much Styrofoam®, if any, is
The final County Staff Report provided five policy alternatives, and a
subsequent Board Letter recommended that the Supervisors adopt Also, polystyrene recycling is not a "closed loop". The collected poly-
Alternative 5, which states the intention of a bag ban if the bag dis- styrene cups are not remanufactured into cups, but into other prod-
posal rate does not decrease by a minimum of 35% and 70% by 2010 ucts, such as packing filler and cafeteria trays. This means that more
and 2013, respectively. Under this Alternative, County staff would resources will have to be used, and more pollution created, to pro-
draft an ordinance to ban plastic single-use bags and would bring the duce more polystyrene cups.
ordinance back to the Board, if the reduction targets are not met.
Human Health Effects:
While Heal the Bay sees an outright ban as the proven most effective
policy solution, we worked extensively with the Supervisors‘ staff to There are many problems associated with polystyrene affecting both
strengthen Alternative 5 by including convenience markets into the human health and the environment. Styrene, the single molecule form
plan and developing a strong methodology for determining compli- of polystyrene, may migrate into your food or beverages from polysty-
rene containers. So what happens when you consume styrene?
(Continued on page 3)
(Continued on page 3)
IN THIS ISSUE
New Staff 2 Day Without A Bag 3 Santa Monica Pier Aquarium 4
Memories of the Bay 5 Speakers Bureau Training 6 Beach Report Card 8
HEAL THE BAY VOLUNTEER NEWSLETTER Volume 18, Number 1, February 2008
Heal the Bay, 1444 9th Street, Santa Monica, California 90401
Welcome New Staff
February 2008 Volume 18, Number 1 Saira Gandhi is the new Internship and Volunteer Coordinator for
Heal the Bay. Saira recently graduated from the University of Califor-
nia, Los Angeles with a degree in International Development. As an
active student leader, Saira was a steering committee member of E3:
Ecology, Economy, Equity, a student group dedicated to building a
culture of sustainability on the UCLA campus. In addition to directing
1444 9th Street the 2007 UCLA Earth Day Festival: Blue+Gold =Green, Saira also
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 451-1500 organized students to advocate for environmental policies to the UC
www.healthebay.org Regents. In 2007, the members of E3 and the California Student Sus-
tainability Coalition were able to pass a Climate Neutrality policy for
the UC System that would require the University of California to have
a zero net impact on global climate change. Saira is excited to continue to work towards environ-
mental and social justice and looks forward to meeting all of Heal the Bay‘s wonderful volunteers.
Santa Monica Pier Aquarium
1600 Ocean Front Walk Charlotte Stevenson, our new staff scientist, is originally from Palo
Santa Monica, CA 90401 Alto, California and attributes her love of the ocean to spending sum-
(310) 393-6149 mers in beautiful Kauai, Hawaii with her grandparents. She first formally
studied marine biology in Copenhagen, Denmark in a study abroad
We are a nonprofit environmental
program, but then decided she needed to return to warmer climates
organization dedicated to making Southern and did an undergraduate research project on fish populations at Pal-
California coastal waters and watersheds, myra Atoll in the Pacific. She then went back to Stanford University for
including Santa Monica Bay, safe, healthy and her Masters in marine biological toxicology. Prior to coming to Heal the
clean. We use research, education, commu-
nity action & advocacy to pursue our mission. Bay, she worked for a year and half in Washington, DC as a John A.
Knauss Marine Policy Fellow and then as a member of the staff on the
Volunteer info on our web site:
Click the Volunteer logo in the Quick
Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife
Links column on the home page. Or, and Oceans in the House of Representatives. Charlotte is very happy to be back in California
go to "Take Action" > "Volunteer" helping protect one of the most beautiful coastlines in the whole world.
using the menu bar.
Sea Stars Producers/Editors Julie Naylor is excited to join the Heal the Bay staff as the
Refugio “Reg” Mata
Public Programs Assistant. Julie has been a volunteer at the
Santa Monica Pier Aquarium since 2002, and has always had
Sea Stars Staff an interest in the marine environment. In 2006, Julie earned
Refugio Mata ext.151
an Associate's degree in General Science, and is currently
Inland Outreach Coordinator working on earning a B.S. in Accounting at LMU. Her hob-
Kirsten James ext.162
bies are bird watching, gardening, drawing, and SCUBA div-
Water Quality Director ing, although due to schooling, most of these are not being
Natalie Burdick ext.159
pursued at the moment.
Jyoti Gaur ext. 146
Speakers Bureau Manager
Randi Parent, SMPA ext. 105 Save the Date(s)
Community Outreach Coordinator
The social season is fast approaching, so it‘s time to mark your cal-
Printed on recycled paper endar for some of the upcoming special events benefiting Heal the
Bay, including a SVEDKA-sponsored fashion event at Fred Segal
Printing Paid By: Fun in Santa Monica, April 10th, the Santa Monica Classic Run May
4th, and Support the Cure‘s 2008 party supporting Heal the Bay and
the Environmental Defense Fund, downtown at Met Lofts on May
10th (visit www.supportthecure.org for tickets).
Look for more details on Heal the Bay‘s website and in the next is-
sue of Sea Stars!
If you‘d like to throw your own third-party fundraiser for Heal the Bay, contact Natalie Burdick in
the Development Department at (310) 451-1500 Ext. 159.
Giving Back to the Planet (“Toxic Single-Use Plastics Bags” continued from page 1)
By Natalie Burdick ance with the reduc-
Heal the Bay‘s inaugural “Day Without a Bag” event on December tion targets. As a
20th was a tremendous success! result of our efforts,
A coalition of over 25 environmental and community organizations, staff proposed these
including Heal the Bay, raised the awareness of millions through our amendments to Alter-
bag give-way campaigns at 18 different sites, including major South- native 5. Heal the
land sites at The Grove in Los Angeles and Northgate Market in El Bay was set to sup-
Monte, where there was extensive media coverage. port Alternative 5 with
The event couldn‘t have been a success without the support of our However on the day Heal the Bay at the Supervisors’ hearing. Photo by Joyce Sisson
partners including, 22 L.A. County cities that signed resolutions des- before the hearing,
ignating December 20th as ―A Day Without a Bag,‖ 180 participating additional amendments were submitted by Supervisors Knabe and
Ralphs grocery locations, 75 99¢ Only shopping sites, 3 Bed Bath Antonovich that weakened the bag reduction targets by 5%. Heal the
and Beyond stores, and a half a dozen reusable bag companies. Bay drew a line in the sand and openly opposed these last-minute
amendments; allowing an additional 300 million bags (5%) to end up
Heal the Bay is especially thankful to the following companies for in our landfills and environment was unacceptable.
generously providing over 10,000 bag donations and for their ongoing
commitment to providing alternatives to single-use shopping bags: Heal the Bay and other environmental groups spearheaded a rally
before the hearing to ask the Supervisors to hold the line and not
1 Bag at a Time – www.1bagatatime.com reduce the targets. Nearly 200 people attended the rally to show
Bring Your Own Bag – www.byorb.com their support in the fight against plastic bags. Despite strong support
ChicoBags – www.chicobags.com from Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Gloria Molina, the remaining
Eco-Bags – www.ecobags.com three Supervisors ignored its staff recommendation to consider a
earthwise bag company, inc. – www.earthwisebags.com stronger measure that would ban plastic bags in unincorporated ar-
West 19th – www.w19th.com eas if aggressive recycling targets were not met. Unfortunately, the
11th hour lobbying efforts by associations representing grocers and
To give back to the planet, visit any of these sites to stock up on your bag manufacturers worked.
own supply of reusable bags, or visit www.healthebay.org/shop for a
Heal the Bay canvas tote and make every day, a day without a bag! Although this vote was a disappointment, we are optimistic that a bag
ban will be triggered in Los Angeles County when reduction targets
are not met. Heal the Bay is also urging other municipalities to take a
much bigger step to tackling the plastic bag problem by implementing
an outright ban. The City of Santa Monica will hear staff‘s recom-
mendations for addressing plastic bags on February 12th.
Of note, the Chinese government last week adopted an outright ban
on the distribution of plastic shopping bags, citing the environmental
and economic damage caused by the proliferation of one-use bags.
More than two dozen nations and metropolitan areas have enacted
similar bans or bag fees, including San Francisco and Paris.
City of LA Officials, Bag Monster® and Green Santa
(“Plastic No. 6” continued from page 1)
Studies suggest that styrene mimics estrogen in the body and can
therefore disrupt normal hormone functions, possibly contributing to
thyroid problems, menstrual irregularities, and other hormone-related
problems, as well as breast cancer and prostate cancer. Because
many of these effects can be more pronounced on developing bod-
ies, extra caution is advisable for women who are pregnant (or con-
sidering becoming so) and for prepubescent children.
Heal the Bay will continue to fight! Photo by Polly Barrowman
(Continued on page 7)
Santa Monica Pier Aquarium Spring Training for Volunteers!
While not required, attending a volunteer orientation is recommended
Regular Winter Hours Are Back! before participating in volunteer training. Orientation will be held Tuesday,
February 19, from 6:30-7:15 p.m. at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium,
Monday: 1600 Ocean Front Walk.
Tuesday through Friday: Volunteer training is a six-session course that all potential volunteers
2 p.m. to 5 p.m. must complete. The spring training classes are held from 6:30 to 8:30
Weekends: p.m. at the Aquarium on the following evenings: March 4th, 5th, 6th &
12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. March 11th, 12th, 13th.
Extreme Makeover for Aquarium Kids’ Corner
By Randi Parent
The much anticipated renovation of
the Kids‘ Corner is underway. A cozy
area supplied with marine-themed
puzzles, games, toys and books, the
Kids‘ Corner is one of the most popu-
lar areas of the Aquarium for families
with very young children. Our young
visitors delight in discovering the toys
stashed in pint-sized drawers and a
puppet theater stocked with a barrel
full of sea creature puppets.
With a $25,000 grant from City Na-
tional Bank, a new corporate sponsor
Photo by Jose Bacallao
of the space, the Kids‘ Corner is being
restructured to provide a better environment for informal education,
including space for book readings, class activities and an established
story time. A new wall delineating the space, which is to the right of
the Aquarium entrance, also includes a permanent greeting station
where volunteers and staff will welcome visitors. Wrap-around bench-
style seating with overstuffed pillows and storage for games and puz-
zles in cubbies below will provide more room for families to take full
advantage of the space.
A series of ―jewel tanks,‖ six small exhibits at kids‘ eye level, will fea-
ture one species each, giving visitors an opportunity to observe and
study each species individually. The exhibit can be changed several
times a year to demonstrate life cycles of a variety of marine life. For
example, late winter and early spring is prime breeding time for many
ocean animals to lay eggs. Some of the jewel tanks might feature the
eggs of horn sharks, swell sharks or squid eggs for their gestation,
alongside the newly hatched juveniles in another jewel tank. Kids the Aquarium. After the reading of an environmental or a marine sci-
tend to be fascinated with the reproductive cycle and with newborn ence-themed book, children will be treated to a hands-on animal
animals, so the Aquarium is expecting this exhibit to be a big hit with presentation and a related arts and crafts project.
our younger visitors who gather in this area.
The restructuring of the space will provide a more defined teaching
The new corporate sponsorship allows public programs staff to re- and performance area, accommodating Monday‘s ―Micro Biologists‖
stock the area‘s reading library, replacing worn out copies of some kids‘ classes and giving community visitors during public hours more
titles and adding new ones. Besides increasing the variety of books, space for the always-popular kid-created puppet shows.
the library will include a larger number of marine themed books writ-
ten in Spanish as well. New games, puzzles and furniture are also The myriad uses for the Kids‘ Corner should guarantee a steady flow
being purchased. Once the Kids‘ Corner is refurbished and re- of visitors; be sure to visit often!
stocked, a new weekend story time will become a regular feature at
Memories of the Bay
By Dolores Montgomery, as edited by Gabriele Morgan (Letter Seven)
On March of 2007, Heal the Bay received a call from Dolores Montgomery, a lady in a Culver City nursing home who had received some
promotional return-address label stickers we sent out to entice potential new members. She was recounting some of her observations about
her life around the Bay over her 78 years, and we asked her to write down some of her memories for us all to share. These are her informal
reminiscences as she has sent them to us in a series of letters.
white house with a tree and a fence around it”. That did not do us
much good! We looked for and found a house like that, but none of
them lived there. So we stopped and got everyone snacks, pulled
over at gas stations to use the bathrooms ... for four hours. We saw
some gang bangers who were friendly with the Reverend and were
nice to me. They got on the bus and helped us return the kids, and
we met each parent personally to make sure they got the correct
child back! By then all the kids were asleep.
To make sure this would never happen again, I bought colored fab-
ric, cut out birds from it, and made necklaces of them to hang
around the children‟s necks so they would go to their proper corner
I am writing this in December, so I can‟t say Happy New Year yet, but off the bus.
I will say Happy Groundhog Day, Happy Valentine‟s Day, Happy
Presidents‟ Day, and Happy Birthday To Me! (OK, here‟s a quiz: do I mentioned the Watts Riots because of the racial tension that they
both Washington and Lincoln each have their own separate days created throughout the city, and how some of it blew my way when
named in their honor? Answer at the end of the column.) the fact that one of the corners we dropped off children at was called
“Blackbird Corner.” To me, it was just another color on my list of
As for the cartoon with this column, last month when I wrote about the colors, and at 15, I had been running out of colors! Someone re-
bulls that got loose and ran in Venice in 1977, I tried to draw one, but ported me as a racist at a community meeting, to my horror. The
I had no idea how … since then, people have brought me photos of drop-off corners with the color- bird names were turning out to be a
bulls to draw from until I finally got it right (I hope). big success, and worked very well, in all ways. But at one meeting, a
woman insisted I must go! That‟s when the other black teachers in
Over the holidays I saw a lot of television coverage of Heal the Bay‟s the room rushed to me, took my hands, and sang, “We Shall Over-
efforts to rid our state of plastic single-use bags and promoting strong come”. At that very moment, my parents, who were very racist,
re-useable substitutes, so I added them to my cartoon with the bull walked in. They looked puzzled, then embarrassed, and then they
(now I am thinking it really looks more like a moose … oh well). walked out!
Remember I told you in an earlier column that I was one of the earli- Fortunately, my mother lived long enough to know some of my
est workers for Project Head Start in the early 60‟s? In the normal grand and great-grandchildren, who are all colors, and to love them.
course of my job I would encounter the kind of situations that the late My father passed away too soon to have that opportunity.
humorist Erma Bombeck used to write about.
Lastly: the answer to the quiz question: The President who does not
I am recalling how parents used to be able (through Head Start) to have a legal holiday is Abraham Lincoln! (The exception to this is in
get their 3 ½ year old kids to the Ocean Park Temple next to Main some eastern states, where he does have a day in his honor). You
Street. The well known late Rev. Fred Hilst, who used to minister to can thank the always amazing Santa Monica librarians for that infor-
the needy in Venice Beach, would drive his bus, and I would be on mation!
the bus to make sure the adorable kids (who were all black, as they
were the neediest population), got safely into the hands of their par- „Till next time,
ents when we returned them. The parents would be outside waiting
on 15 different corners in Venice, and we had named the corners with Dolores
colors – “Red Bird Corner”, “Pink Bird Corner”, etc. Well, one day,
that happened to be the day after the Watts Riots, the person whose
job it was to notify the parents when to pick up their kids had failed to
do so. No one was there! We raced back to the temple to get the indi-
vidual addresses of the children‟s homes... Oh no – the temple school
was locked! We had 75 kids on that bus. At three and half years old,
they had no idea where they lived. Actually they did know: “I live in a
Attendance at all trainings is mandatory
Main Office: 1-4pm
Tuesday, February 26th
Tuesday, March 4th
Tuesday, March 11th
Saturday, March 15th from 10a-12n
Where: Heal the Bay Office
Sign up at: 1444 9th Street.
www.healthebay.org/speakers Santa Monica, CA
Nothin’ But Sand MONTHLY BEACH CLEANUP For more information on this and future Nothin’ But Sand beach
cleanups, please visit www.healthebay.org/nbscleanup
A liability waiver can be obtained in ad-
WAIVER AND LIABILITY INFORMATION vance on our website at:
A liability waiver must be signed by every indi-
vidual in order to participate. A liability
Nothin’ But Sand www.healthebay.org/nbscleanup
No registration is required; you can just
waiver can be signed at the cleanup the day of Saturday, February 16 show up for the cleanup.
the event if the participant is 18 OR OVER.
Dress appropriately for being out in the
ARE YOU UNDER 18? Venice Beach Pier elements. Remember, it is usually colder
at the beach.
All volunteers under the age of 18 must have a 10 a.m.— Noon
liability waiver signed by a parent or legal (@ Washington Blvd.) Please be sure to wear closed-toe shoes.
guardian before participating in a cleanup. Parking is free or $1, but you must state
that you are there for the beach cleanup.
February 2008 For details, please go to: www.healthebay.org/calendar March 2008
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat NBS Sun Mon Tue We Thu Fri Sat
27 28 29 30 31 1 2 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Main
Office 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
17 18 19 20 21 22 23 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
24 25 26 27 28 29 1 Events 30 31 1 2 3 4 5
(“Plastic No. 6” continued from page 3)
Support Heal the Bay When You Shop!
The environment impacts of polystyrene are far reaching, and begin Now when you shop, you can
with its manufacture. Polystyrene is produced from petroleum, a non- stretch your dollars by buying
sustainable, heavily polluting and disappearing commodity. Because ‗green‘ AND donating to Heal the
of its throw away nature, most polystyrene materials are only used for Bay. Whether you need a floral
minutes before it is tossed away and discarded as litter. The Califor- arrangement, a ‗waterless‘ car
nia Department of Transportation discovered that polystyrene consti- wash or sustainable home cleaning
tuted the second most common item extracted from storm drains. and office supplies, you can buy
This is extremely problematic when polystyrene reaches our water- from one of our supporting busi-
ways and enters our oceans. Nearly two-thirds of the debris on the nesses.
beach is non-recyclable plastic, including Styrofoam, straws, bottle
caps, etc. In the North Pacific, plastic marine debris causes the Wisteria Lane – an organic florist
deaths of an estimated 2 million seabirds and more than 100,000 with a custom ‗Heal the Bay‘ ar-
marine mammals globally each year. rangement – www.organicfloraldesigns.com
What can you do? Lucky Earth – an online store offering ‗waterless‘ car-washing prod-
ucts/services – www.luckyearth.com
Because polystyrene is difficult to recycle and has adverse human
health and environmental effects, we suggest opting for alternatives Greenraising – an online store offering a variety of eco-products for
before reaching for that Styrofoam cup. home/office use – www.greenraising.com
1. Use ceramic plates, bowls, and mugs/cups whenever possible. If If you have a business that would like to donate a portion of its pro-
you can't do that, choose paper over polystyrene. Especially if ceeds to Heal the Bay, contact Natalie Burdick in the Development
your food or beverage … Department at (310) 451-1500 Ext. 159.
will be hot (or get heated up in the container),
contains alcohol or acidic substances, or Heal the Bay’s Inland Work
has medium or high fat content. By Refugio “Reg” Mata
2. Supermarket items that come sitting on or in a polystyrene food Hello Heal the Bay enthusiasts! As some
container should be removed and stored in something else until of you may have already heard, this year I
you're ready to cook or eat the items. Glass, ceramic, or porcelain ended my tenure as the Volunteer/
containers, bowls or plates are preferable for food storage (so you Internships Coordinator because I moved
don't get chemicals from plastic storage containers). Also, most res- on to a new position: I am now the new
taurant "doggie bags" are really polystyrene food containers. ―Inland Outreach Coordinator.‖ This move
allowed me to stay within the Heal the Bay
3. Never, never, NEVER microwave or heat food in polystyrene family and so I am now very well positioned
containers. to contribute even more towards the work that we do with the inland
communities of Los Angeles County.
Santa Monica has already taken steps to eradicate this plastic by
officially banning non-recyclable food service packaging made with For the past seven years, Heal the bay has done extensive environ-
expanded polystyrene. Many other cities have already banned poly- mental work in the Compton Creek Watershed. Currently, Heal the
styrene food packaging and both the California and New York legisla- Bay is focusing on this area to develop various ―green‖ projects that
tures will likely consider bills which would effectively ban expanded promote the empowerment of the local communities that are located
polystyrene takeout food packaging state-wide during the current along this watershed. We attempt to do this by fostering the develop-
legislative session. ment of local leadership that will be sustainable and consistent over
time. Our work will also be entailing educational programs and activi-
Become a Volunteer! ties in this area to fulfill the following purposes: 1) provide inland ur-
ban communities in the Los Angeles Basin with the same breadth of
services our organization already provides many coastal communi-
Heal the Bay Volunteer Orientation and Training
ties; 2) change behaviors and attitudes about the environment and
their community; and 3) help fulfill the mission of Heal the Bay.
7 p.m.—9 p.m. at the Heal the Bay office. Call Saira Gandhi
at ext. 145 to RSVP or for more information.
As we embark on this visionary project, I ask that you please support
our work. If you know or belong to a community group in this area
that would be interested in partnering with us, please contact me at
(310) 451-1500 Ext. 151
1444 9th Street
Santa Monica CA 90401
Alternative Tidbit BEACH REPORT CARD
The report grades bacteria levels in the water, not the
amount of trash or toxins. Grades are based on moni-
Beneficial Plants toring data from the previous four weeks up to the
ending date of January 22, 2008.
Basil – planted alongside tomato plants helps con- Beach Name Weather: Dry Wet
trol tomato hornworms. Zuma Beach A+ A
Surfrider Beach @ breach F F
Thyme – planted with cabbage helps control flea
beetles, cabbage worm and white cabbage butter- Will Rogers @ Temescal A+ F
flies. Santa Monica Pier A C
Venice Beach @ Windward A+ A+
Marigold – planted in vegetable gardens Mother’s Beach @ lifeguard tower C F
produces a scent that repels many gar- Manhattan Beach Pier A+ A+
Redondo Beach Pier D F
Mint – repels mosquitoes and produces an odor that aphids and cab- DRY— each location is graded on an A-F scale based on
bage pests dislike. bacterial pollution levels present in the surf zone.
WET— grades for days of recorded rainfall and the fol-
lowing three days.
Garlic – planted close to roses it can protect bushes from black spot, a NS— No Sample taken
fungus disease; can be grown in rings around a crop to repel aphids;
Heal the Bay reminds you not to swim or surf within
spray garlic tea (see above) on plants to eliminate fungus and mildew. 100 yards of any flowing storm drain or in any coastal
waters for three days after a rainstorm. Call Heal the
Bay or access our web site on Fridays, after 2 P.M., for
updated weekly grades.