SeaWorld donates reusable bags to city
Share PhotoSeaWorld announced Wednesday that it’s giving 25,000 reusable bags to the city of San Diego to help residents break the plastic bag habit.Th ai air max 90 r max 90 e marine park, which stopped providing single use plastic bags in 2011, said the donation is part of its efforts to curtail the amount of plastic bags that end up in the ocean where they can harm sea turtles and other mar air max 90 ine life.”Our focus is on the impact of plastics on the animals,” said park president John Reilly.The donation also will help San Diego move toward its goal of diverting 100 percent of waste from landfills by 2040, city offi air max 90 cials said. And it’s meant to familiarize residents with reusable bags before the City Council votes on a proposed ban on the single use variety. That vote could come by summer, interim Mayor Todd Gloria during a Wednesday news conference at SeaWorld.The measure would eliminate disposable plastic bags from markets, pharmacies and other retailers; encourage shoppers to switch to reusable totes; and require businesses to charge 10 cents for each paper bag. Whether or not San Diego prohibits single use plastic bags, city officials said residents can reduce waste, save landfill space and protect sea life by switching to reusable bags.SeaWorld’s bags will be available in a few weeks, and will be distributed initially to low income communities in the central and southern parts of the city, as well as through the Jacobs Cushman San Diego Food Bank.”The message is simple: When you go shopping, bring your own bag,” said Chris Gonaver, director of the city’s Environmental Services Department.But Bishop George McKinney, executive pastor at St. Stephen’s Cathedral Church of God in Christ in Encanto and an opponent of the proposed ban, said the donation isn’t enough.”The reality is this bag ban and tax scam are a heavenly deal for the California Grocers Association and a raw deal for San Diegans,” McKinney said. “First, you can’t buy enough bags for all the people of San Diego. Second, thousands of lower income, working families and retirees will still be forced to buy these bags or pay a heavy tax for paper bags on each grocery trip.”In addition to city and SeaWorld officials, the news conference featured an appearance by Peanut, a 5 year old green sea turtle raised at the marine park.Swimming in a portable pool, Peanut represented the kind of young turtles most at risk from ingestion of plastic, said Mike Price, SeaWorld’s assistant curator of zoological operations.Younger turtles swim in the open ocean feeding on jellyfish, which look similar to plastic bags in the water, he said. Juvenile turtles swallow the bags, which clog their digestive system and lead to “a slow, uncomfortable process of starving to death,” Price said.SeaWorld veterinarians often remove bags from the throats or stomachs of animals they rescue, Price said, but many more perish at sea.The marine park started banning single use plastic bags from its grounds when it opened the Turtle Reef exhibit in 2011, Reilly said. It subsequently eliminated foam and plastic cups, plates and utensils from its eateries.”We thought that if we’re telling the story of the risk of plastic to these animals in the wild, it was an opportunity to change the way we do business in terms of plastic bags,” he said.