Jennie’s Ocean Voyage: Plastic Bag Sighted 142 Nautical Miles Out to Sea

***This is part of a series of personal blog entries by’s founder Jennie R. Romer, which will document her trip to study plastic pollution in the North Atlantic Ocean with The 5 Gyres Institute.***

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my work on plastic bag reduction ordinances is what drew me to this sailing expedition – to study plastic in the ocean – but I didn’t expect to actually see any plastic bags in the open ocean.  My reasoning was that because plastic bags are thin films, if a plastic bag is floating on the surface of the ocean it will photodegrade relatively quickly into smaller and smaller particles.  I also figured that when plastic bags  become covered in sediment or algae they will become more dense and sink and that large waves from storm events will push plastic bags under the surface.

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Los Angeles City Bans Plastic Bags



Here is a press release from Health the Bay, one of the main groups that has been working on the issue in southern California for the last few years.

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Press Release: New York City Takes On Plastic Bags – Council Member Brad Lander Discusses Upcoming Legislation This Monday

Click here for a PDF of the press release.


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Jennie’s Ocean Voyage: The Sea Dragon

***This is part of a series of personal blog entries by’s founder Jennie R. Romer, which will document her trip to study plastic pollution in the North Atlantic Ocean with The 5 Gyres Institute.***

The Sea Dragon is the 72-foot sailboat used by The 5 Gyres Institute for many of its expeditions, including mine. I first learned about these expeditions out into the ocean to research plastic pollution several years ago by watching a Frontline documentary about the discovery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. As soon as I saw it, I wanted to go. Then I became acquainted with non-profit groups, including 5 Gyres, conducting research voyages that “normal people” could raise money to take part in. These trips commonly required about 30 days or so commitment, and you had to raise $10k+ to join. Read the rest of this entry »

Jennie’s Ocean Voyage: There is a North Atlantic Garbage Patch, and I Need to See It

***This is the first in a series of personal blog entries by’s founder Jennie R. Romer, which will document her trip to study plastic pollution in the North Atlantic Ocean with The 5 Gyres Institute.***

I first learned about ocean gyres in a very different context: As an undergrad marine biology student at UC Santa Barbara over a decade ago.  We learned about gyres, basically little vortexes in the ocean caused by currents, which caused upwellings of nutrients from the bottom of the ocean in certain places in the open ocean, which lead to blooms of zooplankton and a whole complex food web. Now I’m embarking on a sailing voyage to one of these gyres, the North Atlantic Gyre, with a research group looking at how these very same currents now accumulate trash in sections of the open ocean. Most of the trash observed tends to be plastic because plastic takes so long to degrade and much of this plastic observed is polyethylene because it tends to be slightly less dense than sea water and thus floats. Read the rest of this entry »

Sign a petiton to encourage a plastic bag reduction ordinance in NYC!

View the petition here.

Also please register at to get involved in NYC campaign & attend this event on June 24th with Council Member Brad Lander in Park Slope (event info pasted below):

Greenwood Baptist Church, 461 6th St. at the corner of 7th Ave
7:00 pm EST
Event to learn about single-use plastic
bag legislation being proposed in NYC, ask
questions, and find out how you can get

Dear Friends

On Monday June 24 at 7 PM, please join City Council Member Brad Lander, the Green Party of Brooklyn, Sierra Club, NRDC, No Impact Project, Citizens Committee for New York City, Sane Energy, NYC Friends of Clearwater, and BagItNYC for an informative evening to learn about the massive environmental impact that single-use plastic bags have in NYC, and the NYC campaign to do something about it.

This free event will take place at Greenwood Baptist Church, at 461 6th Street at the corner of 7th Avenue in Park Slope.


Speakers will include Council Member Brad Lander, who will be introducing legislation on plastic bags; Jennie Romer, who spear headed successful efforts in California to ban / restrict single use plastic bags and will discuss the various possible approaches (ban, fee, tax, etc); Colin Beavan (No Impact Man) and Carl Arnold (Sierra Club)

We will also air several short videos on plastic bags, including “The Immortal Plastic Bag,” a mini-documentary about plastic bags in NYC.

The event will be an excellent opportunity to learn more about this issue and find out how you can get involved with the plastic bag campaign in NYC.

Nationwide, only a small percentage of plastic bags are recycled. Instead, they end up sitting in landfills, littering streets, clogging streams, fouling beaches and trees, or floating in rivers and oceans. Over 267 different species, from seabirds to turtles, seals, sea lions, whales, and fish, have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of marine debris, including plastic bags. Plastic does not dissolve; it breaks into tiny pieces and stays there for up to 1,000 years.

Single use plastic bags have been banned or restricted in cities across the US, including California (75 local jurisdictions including LA County and San Francisco), Washington, DC and Austin, TX. In LA County, a ban on single-use plastic carryout bags and a 10-cent charge on paper bags lead to a 95% reduction in single-use plastic bags in the first year.

In a recent NY Times article, the city’s recycling director pointed out that “Plastic shopping bags are an enormous problem for New York City,” noting that the city pays $10 million annually to landfill 100,000 tons of plastic bags. When plastic bags are carelessly placed into recycling bins for general plastic — which they often are — the bags jam and damage expensive sorting machines, which cost huge amounts to repair.

For more information, please contact


Fundraiser for Plastic Research in the Ocean & Screening of Mini-Documentry About Plastic Bags in NYC

Thursday, May 30th  6:30-9:00pm

Fundraiser for Plastic Research in the Ocean & Screening of Mini-Documentary About Plastic Bags in NYC

Jennie Romer, founder of, will be sailing across part of the Atlantic Ocean in June (from Bermuda to Rhode Island) on a 72-foot sail boat with The 5 Gyres Institute to study single-use plastic pollution that has made its way from land to the middle of the ocean.  Jennie needs to raise $3000 for a spot on the boat and is thus holding this fundraiser.

Click here for more info about Jennie’s voyage & fundraising:

We will also be screening a mini-documentry about plastic bags in NYC and the filmmakers will also be in attendance.

Location:  Tutu’s Brooklyn, 25 Bogart Street, Brooklyn (2 blocks from the Morgan stop off the L train)

7:15pm:  screening of short film about 5Gyres voyages

7:30pm:  screening of “The Immortal Plastic Bag”, a mini-documentary about plastic bags in NYC

7:45pm:  PowerPoint presentation by Jennie Romer about plastic bag laws

8:00pm:  Q&A with the mini-doc filmmakers & Jennie

8:30pm:  silent auction & raffle with prizes from prizes from ChicoBag, Jai Yoga Arts, Mothering Mother Bags, Big Tree Bottles, Tutu’s, local artists, and more.

View the facebook invite here:

Please RSVP via the fb event page or if you’re not on fb RSVP to

If you would like to donate something to the silent auction/raffle, please let Jennie know (art, gift certificates – anything would be greatly appreciated).

Video: Discussion of plastic bag laws and marine plastic pollution at Enfield Public Library facilitated by Jennie of

Enfield, CT Public Library Talks Series: “The Seas of Plastic”
Facilitated by Jennie R. Romer, Esq.
April 24, 2013

Great basic discussion of how plastic bag reduction laws help address plastic pollution in the ocean.  The presentation by Jennie starts at 12:41, including a discussion of biodegradable plastic bags at 39:46.

Click here for more video content from

New York Times Article About Plastic Bag Laws in the US

Today’s New York Times features an article about plastic bag laws in the US and a discussion about plastic bags in NYC with Ron Gonen, Mayor Bloomberg’s deputy commissioner of sanitation for recycling and waste reduction.

To get involved in the movement to adopt a plastic bag reduction ordinance (ban or fee) in NYC, please visit to register your support.  (Right now!)

Click here view a panel discussion about plastic bags in NYC, which took place at the Green Schools Alliance “Ban the Bag” conference at the Hewitt School in March.

View the full NYT article here:

Manhattan SWAB 2013: “Bag It” Screening and Plastic Bag Panel

Join the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board (MSWAB) on May 13th for a screening of the film Bag It and panel discussion with:

Helena Durst, Member, MSWAB; and Durst Organization

Jennie Romer, Founder of and Atlantic Region Director of the Clean Seas Coalition

Ron Gonen, Deputy Commissioner, Recycling & Sustainability, Department of Sanitation, City of New York

More information: