Janet Perry, PETALUMA ARGUS-COURIER
There are plastic particulates in San Francisco Bay, trillions of them. Some come from car tires — those tend to sink to the bottom — and there are tiny fragments floating, many coming from fancy polar fleece jackets and other clothing after the first few washings.
There’s other stuff in there too, like single use plastic container particles, pieces of plastic stir sticks and plastic bags, and it has caught the attention of scientists.
The San Francisco Estuary Institute and the 5 Gyres Institute carried out a study of plastic in the bay.
The Petaluma River flows into the bay and was mentioned in the study, although researchers did not collect data from the river itself. Carolynn Boxx, 5 Gyres science programs director, explained that samples were collected where the Petaluma River flows into the bay but because of the limited number of samples collected, individual sections of the bay were not analyzed separately.
“The project identified recommendations to work towards solutions, with supporting policy that eliminates single use plastic items being one of the top recommendations,” Boxx said. “We encourage Bay Area cities to look to Berkeley’s comprehensive ordinance on disposable plastic food ware as a model ordinance. Maybe Petaluma will be next?”
The Petaluma City Council recently passed a ban on Styrofoam and has considered expanding it to plastic food ware.
Clothing is a big plastic culprit too. The first washing of fleece and other plastics-based fibers can have a big impact, as the particulates tend to be dispersed more during those first washings. Lots of clothing today contain man-made plastics fibers.
Some companies, like Patagonia, are trying to find solutions and encourage the purchase of well-made items that will last longer.