Springing into Action

Thursday, 03 April 2014

Contents:
- Chicago bag ban
- NYC bag reduction
- Beneath the Sea
- SCUBA & H2O Adventure Show
- OWUSS Intern announced
- Additional Internships

Hello fellow ocean lovers!

It's been an action packed month for us! As many of you know, COARE is one of the nation's leading organizations when it comes to conservation policy. We've been working for some time on efforts in the Windy City, and things there just went into high gear. We've been consulting with members of the City Council and with local NGOs to help develop the best possible legislation to reduce the incredible level of single-use bag waste in the City of Chicago.

An ordinance was introduced to the City Council last year which sought to ban plastic bags. While that ostensibly sounds like a great idea, the proposed ban was written in such a way that it could possibly cause more harm than good. We have been consulting with the authors to rectify that language and to update the scope of the ordinance, however, there has been a great amount of resistance to the concept of charging for bags, especially since it's an election year for the Council.

We were given the impression that we would all circle back and blaze the right path later this year, after all the election fuss was over, but in a surprise move, the old ordinance was resurrected, with one minor addition, and pushed forth back into the Committee on Health and Environmental Protection.

Sadly, the one minor change to the previous language makes the proposal even worse! Now, the language proposes to allow the free distribution of "compostable" bags. Ostensibly, compostable bags sound like a more environmentally sound choice, but whether a bag is made of petroleum based plastic or a bio-plastic, it's still plastic, and unless such bags are processed in a commercial composting facility, they won't break down properly. Moreover, since Chicago has very few composting facilities and does NOT have commercial or residential curbside compost programs, it's likely that few, if any, compostable bags will make it to these facilities.

Guess what... it's still a plastic bag.

Our executive director is regarded as one of the nation's leading experts on bag legislation, and flew to Chicago to testify at the hearing with the hopes of enlightening the committee. The committee will take our advisement under consideration, but it does seem like an uphill battle. The vote is expected later this month.

NYC bag reduction

Last August, we were thrilled to help introduce legislation that proposed to reduce the number of single-use bags (both paper and plastic) in New York City.

That proposed ordinance was not among those chosen to move forward late in the legislative session, so we've reintroduced it (with some minor revisions)!

On 26 March, we joined fellow Clean Seas Coalition members, BagIt NYC, and a number of other organizations on the steps of City Hall to announce the formal re-introduction of this legislation.

Using a staggering 5.2 BILLION single-use plastic bags every year, New Yorkers are again in a position to make an incredible impact by adopting and implementing this law.

When this ordinance was previously introduced last August, our Executive Director had the honor of giving closing remarks at the press conference. He was slated to speak at this event as well, but so many of the co-sponsors showed, that he ceded his time to keep the event timely.

Beneath the Sea

The timing of the press conference and the Beneath the Sea show (BTS) was rather fortuitous. Since we were already in New York, BTS was just a short bus ride away. Described as the nation's largest consumer dive show, we've been hearing great things about BTS for years. With an estimated 15,000 attendees this year, we'd have to agree that it was quite an event.

We saw a fair few friends and colleagues, and we met a fantastic number of great new folks. For those of you receiving your very first COARE newsletter, we extend a very warm welcome!

Many thanks to our volunteers John, Shiuli, and Suzanne who helped staff our booth at the show. Your assistance and enthusiasm were greatly appreciated.

SCUBA & H2O Adventure Show

Next month, you'll find us in Seattle at the new SCUBA & H2O Adventure Show. This is a rebirthing of the former Northwest Dive Show held annually in Tacoma. This year's event will be held 05-06 April at Pier 91 in Seattle.

If you're in or near Seattle be sure to come visit us in booth #808.

To learn more about the SCUBA & H2O Adventure Show, visit: http://www.scubah2oshow.com/

OWUSS Interns announced

The recipients of the 2014 Our World–Underwater Scholarship Society's North American summer internships were announced this past month. Among them was COARE's Ocean Conservation Internship.

The selection process was very competitive, and OWUSS reported a record number of applications, with COARE's brand new internship receiving more than any other.

We're thrilled to announce that the recipient of our very first OWUSS/COARE Ocean Conservation Internship is Nicole Hack. Nicole is wrapping up her degree in Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and we believe she's going to be one of those people who help change the world. She already shares many of our passions, and we're looking forward to having her join us this summer.

Additional Internships

We love what we do, and we think you should too. If you, or anyone you know, would like to be more directly involved in our work, we'd like to let you know about a few additional volunteer opportunities starting this summer.

Specifically, we're hiring for a Communications Intern, a Policy Intern, a Marketing Intern, and a few Program Interns.

For more details, and for application instructions, click here.

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Wishing you healthy oceans,

- Your friends at COARE

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