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At Ocean Institute, food was served with a variety of single-use plastics, including Styrofoam, at the harbor revitalization event by Dana Point Harbor Partners on Aug. 19. How could this have happened? Actually, I’ve seen single-use plastics at the events at Ocean Institute before, including their annual watershed conference and the Chamber of Commerce’s candidate forum.

All of these organizations are considered as leaders in Dana Point.

Ocean Institute, as an event organizer and a venue, must set guidelines on what cannot be used and what should be encouraged.

Many cities, outside Orange County, have banned single-use plastic food ware. Some also have policies to promote re-usables. In July, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 619 to allow us to bring our own cups and containers to restaurants and events. But we know the plastic crisis requires more changes.

Rethink what is necessary by the consequences. What could happen if no beverage is provided at a two-hour meeting? No one will suffer from dehydration. Money is saved from buying bottled water. Water is saved from the half bottles of water left behind. No plastic-lined paper cups, no sugar packets, no little cups of creamer, no stirrers, etc.—no trash—labor is saved from cleanup. Similarly, a lot can be saved when food is properly planned.

According to University of California’s Climate Lab, “Packaging makes up the largest category of municipal waste. On top of that, single-use items make up another 10% of our discards. This kind of mindless consumption has a really big impact on climate change. Roughly 29% of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from the way we make, consume and dispose stuff. That’s more than the emissions that come from heating our homes or driving around in our cars. It takes a lot of energy and resources to produce single-use items—these things we use only for a few minutes or even a few seconds before they become trash. When single-use items go into a landfill, all that paper and plastic are destroyed. So we have to go out to extract new raw materials to replace it.”

Leaders like Ocean Institute must show Dana Point that we can live without single-use food ware.

The next big event at the Ocean Institute is the Tall Ship & Ocean Festival. One of the activities is Breakfast with a Mermaid. I look forward to seeing a mermaid freed from plastics.

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