Marin County Raises the Bar with Its Newly Adopted Reusable Foodware Ordinance
By Jinesse Reynolds
The unanimous adoption of Marin County’s Reusable Foodware Ordinance this May was made possible by an inspiring community of local activists. It all started in 2018 when I had just been elected to the San Anselmo Sustainability Commission and jumped right in without knowing anything about policy or local government. I had a strong drive to do something about single-use plastic pollution.
Word got out in the community that I was working on a single-use ordinance and out of the blue, Susan Hopp gave me a call to invite me to a brand new Sierra Club committee, Plastic Free Marin, started by Barbara Bogard and Chance Cutrano. Renée Godard, the Sierra Club-endorsed Fairfax Council Member, was also part of this new group. I can say with certainty that the ordinance would not have happened — or at least not at such a rapid pace — had I not met this group of exceptional environmental leaders.
I drafted the text that was the basis of the eventual County Ordinance in early spring 2018. We first brought it to San Anselmo, which adopted the ordinance in November 2018 (and amended it in June 2019), followed by Fairfax. Our success at the municipal level showed us that the support was there for a county-wide ordinance.
When I logged on to the first reading of the Ordinance, I was not feeling overly optimistic. I was having a hard time guessing how many folks would show up. I did not know how many people had submitted comment letters. Then all of the supporters started speaking. Two 7th graders totally "wowed" me with their emotional plea to save the planet. There were so many great statements, and it turned out that the Supervisors had received hundreds of letters. The Supervisors unanimously voted in favor.
By November 2023, all food establishments in unincorporated Marin County will need to serve customers on reusable dishes, with reusable cups and utensils. Disposable take-out cups will have a $.25 cent charge attached to them to incentivize the public to “Bring Your Own” or use a reusable alternative offered by the business. Take-out accessories must be by request only, and all disposable foodware must be compatible with Marin’s existing compost facilities, which are certified for organic fertilizer and only accept unlined paper and wood-based materials that are PFAS-free.
Marin’s Reusable Foodware Ordinance is a big deal. It not only reduces waste, it reduces carbon emissions and toxic chemicals in our environment. The ordinance has inspired San Francisco to continue the work to improve its own Reusable Ordinance, and it has been shared by Sierra Club Zero Waste throughout the country.
The 2022 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sounds yet another alarm bell, code red, urging us to wake up to the fact that the severe consequences we are already experiencing are getting worse at a more rapid pace. We all must do our part to "be the change" that is necessary to reduce our carbon output and put the brakes on the climate crisis. One of the best things we can all do now is "Bring Your Own" reusable containers for take-out food, drinks, or produce and bulk items at the store or farmer’s market.
To get involved with Plastic Free Marin, contact email@example.com.
The article as it appears in the Yodeler:
Jinesse Reynolds is Co-Chair of Plastic Free Marin, a sub-group of Sierra Club Marin Group.
Plastics Free Marin meets the second Tuesday of the month, 6:30 - 8 PM
TAKE ACTION to Save & Fix Collapsing Recycling Market
Special interests are trying to scrap California’s effort to fix our collapsing recycling market.
Tell your California Assemblymember to support Senate Bill 54, which establishes a process for phasing out single-use packaging and product waste that pollutes our natural environment.
Help stop the attacks from the opposition. If you reside in Marin or Sonoma County call Assemblymember Levine at (916) 319-2010 and urge a YES vote on SB 54 when it comes to the Assembly floor this month.
If you prefer, contact him through the social media links on his website.
The surge in single-use plastics during the coronavirus pandemic has derailed the fight against plastic pollution.
As you have most likely noticed, there has been a huge increase of single-use plastic packaging and products in our homes, restaurants, and businesses. Now, more than ever, it is important to ensure that single-use plastic products are truly reusable, recyclable, or compostable.
Call Assemblymember Levine at (916) 319-2010 today to support SB 54.
If you get an answering machine, leave a message. Call even if it is after work hours. Every call is counted.
Not sure what to say?
If you are leaving a recorded message, you can say:
“My name is _____________ from (town) and I am your constituent. I am calling to urge you to vote YES on SB 54.
SB 54 would curb single-use plastic pollution in California.”
If your call is answered by a staff member, say:
“Hi, my name is _____________ from (town). Could you please tell Assemblymember Levine that I called to urge a YES vote on SB 54. Thank you.”
Add whatever niceties you want, especially if you are grateful for anything he has done, but the main thing is to have your opinion registered so he feels the strength of his constituency behind him as he confronts challenges from the opposition.
California must take robust steps NOW to reduce single-use packaging and plastic consumption and increase recycling. Thanks for your help!