I was sitting in a Manhattan Beach City Council meeting listening to a bunch of politicians gripe at Cal Edison, a utility, for shoddy service (Duh). I’d rather be grocery shopping, doing laundry, lifting weights, cleaning the litter box, calling family members back, editing, any of the other 1 million tasks on my list that had to be done that day. It was quickly approaching 9pm. Not one of my chores were done. I had to work tomorrow.
But I kept my bottom in the seat because I was there in support of Surfrider, who in conjunction with a number of other environmental welfare groups, presented a case to the MB City Council to ban polystyrene containers within city limits. In this case, numbers matter, volunteers in support of the ban were needed.
Polystyrene (often referred to as “Styrofoam”) is a know carcinogen, and as anyone who has done a beach or waterways cleanup can tell you – it’s everywhere. It’s a pain to clean up. Polystyrene actually beats out cigarette butts in both quantity and annoying ridiculousness, which is hard to do. (FOR THE UPTEENTH TIME I HAAATTTEEE CIGARETTE BUTTS!!!!) But I digress.
At 9pm I was ready to bounce, but then things got exciting.
The city appointed scientist finally stood to present their case – damning polystyrene toxic evidence followed damming evidence. Supporters of the ban got excited. Then a call for the community speakers. Surfrider representatives as well as community members got up and speak. All in favor of the ban. Hurray!
But then a man in a blue shirt storms in… Whispers circulate. This is Michael Zislis of the Zislis Group – owner of several high profile restaurants in the Manhattan Beach area and the luxury boutique hotel Shade. Is he about to shut this meeting down, and say that the new regulations will hurt local business?
Actually… the opposite. Michael prides himself on his green restaurants, hotels, his Tesla, and the fact that he’s a free market guy. As he clearly states for the MB City Council all restaurants should support the ban on polystyrene. He believes polystyrene is toxic and the cost difference between polystyrene containers and more eco friendly packaging is nominal – maybe one cent cost per unit. All of his properties have made the shift. The City Council members, clearly impressed, nod their heads in agreement. One of their most prominent business owners has spoken. Zislis, putting the nail in the coffin for Styrofoam, turns and quickly exits the hall.
I challenge people who live in smaller metropolitan areas to take up this kind of activism. You live close to your local politicians, your kids might even play little league with the mayor’s kid. Why not take up a polystyrene ban? Do you really want to get cancer from a cooler or bad take out food?
No! You Do Not! And as Michael Zilsiz pointed out the cost difference is nominal. So why would you continue to use something that pollutes and could poison you or grandkids?
Now if only I could ban cigarettes. Everywhere.