2012-04-27 / Community

Beach Cleanup Set For Saturday, April 28

The New York city Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation will prove the Bag Monster exists as they take part in the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance’s Earth Day Celebration along with dozens of other groups on Saturday, April 28 from noon to 4 p.m. on the boardwalk at 59 Street.

The Bag Monster is an elusive creature that many say is responsible for the numerous plastic bags that are seen on beaches, in streets, and stuck in trees. Yet there has never been a confirmed sighting of the Bag Monster in the area.

“Some people think the plastic bags you see everywhere are from inattentive, careless people who litter inadvertently and are just not being careful with their plastics bags,” said JM Zervoulei, Volunteer Coordinator for the Chapter. “But we really think it is the Bag Monster. You see the evidence everywhere. But we are working with the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance and other groups to defeat the Bag Monster,” he added.

The Earth Day Celebration is the 6th Annual for the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance. It brings local groups, families and the entire community together to learn about environmental stewardship, engage kids in fun nature based activities, and teach how we can work to care for the Earth.

“The event teaches people how to be more green and make sustainable choices,” said Jeanne DuPont, Executive Director of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance. “We are glad the Bag Monster is here to prove our point. We can easily reduce waste and litter by choosing reusable bags.”

Single use plastic bags are the most ubiquitous consumer product in the world with an estimated 100 billion used worldwide each year. Surfrider Foundation will lead a beach cleanup during the event and they expect to find some of the Bag Monster’s handiwork. Surfrider Foundation has an initiative to ban plastic bags in NYC. They want to start with the free plastic bags offered by the Queens Library.

“Giving away free bags at the Queens Library at taxpayer expense just doesn’t make sense,” says John Di Renzo, treasurer of the NYC Chapter of Surfrider. “We’ll undoubtedly be picking up plastic bags left by the Bag Monster during the beach cleanup. We need to keep the Bag Monster out of Rockaway and all of New York including the Queens Library,” Di Rienzo added.

Numerous places have banned plastic bags in the US and around the world. San Francisco was first with a ban in 2007. More recently, Seattle and Portland Oregon have banned them. Closer to home Westport, Connecticut and three counties in the Outer Banks of North Carolina have banned them. The bans sometimes apply only to stores of a certain size depending on the city. They usually only cover “checkout” bags, not the clear bags for produce in supermarkets. Cities like Washington DC and Montgomery County Maryland have placed a fee on single use bags. The result in DC was a dramatic 80% reduction in bags within a year.

“Sadly the Bag Monster still has plenty of room to move and he’s gaining momentum,” said Chapter Vice- Chair Blaire Babcock “We’ve made more plastic in the last ten years than in all of human history before it. Therefore the Bag Monster gets into places you would never even think of,” she added.

It is estimated that 100,000 marine mammals and up to 1 million seabirds die each year from ingesting or becoming tangled in plastics according to the UN. This includes plastics in all its forms, not just plastic bags. Sea turtles often mistake floating plastic bags for jellyfish, one of their favorite foods.

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