Diamond Bar High School students learned a lesson in civic involvement at Tuesday night's city council meeting as they spoke to advocate for a ban on single-use plastic bags throughout the city.
Students approached the council as part of a project for the school's Advanced Placement environmental science class, but the students are on a mission to get more than just an A grade.
"Our mission statement is to ban signle-use plastic bags in Diamond Bar," Senior and project leader Riley Lee said Tuesday.
Lee and eight classmates presented short speeches to the council on the history, impact, and alternatives to single-use plastic bags, providing reasons and methods for executing the plan, which they said could have global as well as local impacts.
"Most plastic bags are made from polyethelene and it's abundant but non-renewable," Senior Say Tanna said. "(Plastic bags) are cradle to cradle in that they can't be recycled over and over and can't be returned to natural state. They then end up in the Puente Hills landfill, which will likely close in the next 10 years because of volume of trash there."
Junior Bethany Sun said that the production of plastic bags also has a connection to America's demand for foreign sources of petroleum.
"Production of plastic that goes into bags requires petroleum and other gases which are all non-renewable resources," Sun said. "And that increases our dependency on foreign suppliers."
And Sun said that plastics from disposed bags can eventually ride back through the food chain into human diets.
"When the bags are disposed, they are normally taken to landfills," Sun said, "but even when they degrade, small plastic particles can biomagnify in smaller animals' bodies, which can end up in human bodies as well when we consume the animals."
Biomagnification refers to an accumulation of a particular substance as it, in this case, passes through the food chain.
Senior Lindsey Hagmaier said that the city could place a fee or fine on the use of plastic bags to encourage alternatives primarily at big box stores and supermarkets.
As a part of the project, students are also working to create re-usable shopping bags from recycled t-shirts and are promoting the use of re-usable grocery tote bags.
Senior Steve Chang said he felt a decision by the city could have a greater regional impact as well and could spark desire to curb single-use plastic bags across the country as well.
"A decision made here could accelerate our nation's path on this issue for 10 years if not more," Senior Steve Chang said.
Mayor Steve Tye acknowledged the involvement of the students at the end of the presentation and commended their efforts.
"I am very encouraged by your involvement in a cause you feel is very important," Tye said. "If this presentation was for a class, I hope you will tell the teacher that you deserve an A."
(1) Diamond Bar High School senior Riley Lee addresses the city council on the issue of banning single-use plastic bags in the city.
(2) Diamond Bar High School senior Lindsey Hagmaier said to the council that a ban on plastic bags would not adopt cost increases for smaller businesses in the city.