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Plastic Graduation 

I hate to be the one to point this out, but environmentally speaking, our Sonoma County school systems are very dysfunctional. At a time when the worlds’ oceans are filling up with plastic, our local schools are teaching their students to use even more plastic.

Last week I just happened to be working on a house directly across the street from a Petaluma elementary school that was having their graduation ceremony the same day. I couldn’t help but notice the massive amount of plastic balloons and streamers on display on the school grounds and on the exteriors of vehicles. I decided to keep an eye on the pavement that day to see if they would be leaving any trash on the ground afterwards. Indeed they did, and since nobody associated with the school thought it was important to be concerned with such matters, I picked up the trash myself. 

I asked myself the obvious question which was, if I saw one piece of trash myself, then how many other pieces of plastic trash were generated by that event in the area that I did not see that are on their way to the ocean even as this letter is being read? I figure there are probably at least 10 pieces of plastic from that one graduation ceremony that I did not see that nobody else ever bothered to pick up. So let’s do the math on that. California has a total of 10,315 schools.  If each school drops just 10 pieces of plastic on the ground at their graduation ceremonies, that means that all of those graduation ceremonies are dumping over 100,000 pieces of plastic into the ocean each year, just from California.

In order to affect a change on this issue personally, I will be contacting the local school systems to inform them that until I see two or three consecutive years of plastic-free graduation ceremonies, I will be voting NO on any initiatives involving teacher pay raises or school-bond issues. I suggest everybody else do the same.

If we are not going to fix our dysfunctional local governmental systems, let’s at least fix our dysfunctional local school systems, OK?

Doug Haymaker lives in Santa Rosa.
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