California Passes Ban on . . . Hotel Shampoo Bottles

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, one of the five gyres that collect most of the plastic pollution in the world's oceans.

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The latest from California:

Those small shampoo and conditioner bottles, popular with travelers but unpopular with anti-plastics advocates, would be banned in California hotels under a bill that cleared the state Assembly on Wednesday.

I’m not sure why I hate performative crap like this so much, but I do. Hotel shampoo bottles probably make up something like 0.001 percent of all the plastic used in California, but banning them doesn’t annoy anyone who votes, so I suppose this was a no-brainer. If legislators were actually serious about reducing plastic waste, they’d skip the shampoo ban and go straight to supporting AB1080:

New legislation announced [in February] would require plastic and other single-use materials sold in California to be either reusable, fully recyclable or compostable by 2030. The measure would also require the state to recycle or otherwise divert from landfills 75% of single-use plastic packaging and products sold or distributed in California, up from the 44% of all solid waste that was diverted as of 2017.

“We have to stop treating our oceans and planet like a dumpster,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), an author of the proposal. “Any fifth-grader can tell you that our addiction to single-use plastics is killing our ecosystems.”

Even this is a milquetoast measure. A few weeks ago the entire continent of Europe agreed to ban single-use plastics by 2021:

The law, which was supported by 560 Members of the European Parliament against 35 on Wednesday, stipulates that 10 single-use plastic items will be banned in order to curb ocean pollution. MEPs also agreed a target to collect and recycle 90% of beverage bottles by 2029.

….The new plans come after the EC found that plastics make up more than 80% of marine litter, which has disastrous effects on wildlife and habitats. The EU parliament notes that because of its slow rate of decomposition, plastic residue has been found in marine species as well as fish and shellfish — and therefore also makes its way into the human food chain.

This law passed 560-35! Here in the United States, the greenest state in the nation could just barely pass a ban on hotel shampoo bottles. What the hell is wrong with us?

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"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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