As the UCSB Plastic Pollution Coalition held its annual Day Without a Bottle celebrations on campus yesterday, a state-wide ban on plastic bag usage was approved by the State Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee.

The bill — AB 158 — will now be reaching the floors of the California State Assembly, after gaining crucial approval from the Natural Resources Committee yesterday afternoon. The ban would outlaw the distribution of single-use plastic bags in public places such as drug stores, convenience stores and grocery stores. The legislation was authored by State Assemblymember Marc Levine, who represents the Tenth District — which includes Marin County, part of Santa Rosa and areas of western and southern Sonoma County.

During the Plastic Pollution Coalition’s Day Without a Bottle event, the campus group hosted multiple booths in front of campus convenience stores, giving away reusable water bottles and raffling off free prizes to encourage students to pledge against the use of plastic bags.

The event also included a performance at Storke Plaza later in the day, which included appearances by various campus singing groups — such as VocalMotion and Naked Voices among others — in addition to an appearance by local environmental rapper Mr. Eco.

Nathan Weaver, Oceans Advocate for the Ecological Advocacy Organization Environment California, said AB 158 holds the potential to benefit the quality and health of California’s coastal waters, according to a press release.

“This important step forward shows yet again that we can achieve lasting victories for ocean and environmental health,” Weaver said in a press release. “Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our ocean for hundreds of years.”

However, plastic bag pollution not only negatively impacts the waters of local beaches, but can also harm the wildlife who reside in these waters.

Leatherback sea turtles have been particularly affected, as researchers have discovered plastic inside the stomachs of many of these creatures, according to a press release.

Furthermore, data compiled and published by the civic organization Ocean Conservancy indicates that plastic bags are one of the four most commonly found items on California beaches.



A version of this article appeared on page 1 of April 2nd, 2013′s print edition of the Nexus.