aerial view of the golden gate bridge
Photo: Matthew Tominaga

Bay Area residents are lucky that the majesty of the California coast and the Pacific Ocean is a short trip away. The smell of salt and feeling the sand between your toes helps us connect with nature and renew ourselves. For all the ocean gives us, humans have taken so much, and what we give back is literal garbage.

Today is World Oceans Day, a day to celebrate and advocate for our oceans. The health of our oceans is a tipping point, and we must protect them from further exploitation and pollution. What can you do? Plastic pollution from sandwich bags to microplastics flows into our Bay and can be consumed by wildlife or flow into the ocean. Here are three tips to help you reduce your plastic usage.

Reduce your use of single-use plastics 
It estimated that you consume a credit card worth of plastic every week. Reducing single-use plastic is good for your health and the health of our oceans. We recognize some tips like bringing reusable grocery and produce bags, and bulk containers will have to wait until we can safely use them without the risk of spreading COVID-19. Now you can invest in a metal or glass straw, ensure you always have access to a reusable water bottle and replace your disposable sandwich bags with reusable silicon bags from companies like Stasher. Children’s snacks are notorious for being packaged in single-use portions. Buy larger boxes of crackers instead and put them in small containers for mini-portions. New “tablet” products from mouthwash to hand soap helps people reuse their containers by combining concentrate with water to refill their containers. Keep a plastic journal for a week and write down every piece of plastic you use, throw away, or recycle for a week, and commit to reducing your use.

Reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled 
While we know driving a car powered by fossil fuels produces carbon dioxide, a key driver of climate change, but car tires are the leading source of microplastics (particles less than 5mm) that fall on our roadways and flow into our Bay. Approximately 7 trillion pieces of microplastics flow into the Bay every year, about 3,200 pieces a day for every Bay Area resident. Microplastics change the chemistry of our water and can end up in the fish we eat. Once it is safe, take public transit or carpool to work, and find those opportunities to leave the car at home when you go out and opt for a walk or bike ride instead.

Take The Pledge
Understanding the tools to reduce plastic trash in our communities, Bay, and ocean is the first step. Are you ready to make a real change? Even small steps make a difference if you commit. So join us in pledging to reduce your consumption of single-use plastics to protect our waters locally and around the world:

In celebration of World Oceans Day, I pledge to:

  • Eliminate two single-use plastic items in my daily life
  • Walk or bike to a destination once a week
  • Use public transit when our communities are fully open again

Share your pledge online with the hashtag #ReducePlasticPledge and tag Save The Bay (@savesfbay) to show your commitment to the health of our oceans.

David Coy