More plastic than fish in the ocean | Columnists |

2022-05-28 05:10:38 By : Mr. Ydminer Yu

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Cloudy. Low 53F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph..

Cloudy. Low 53F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.

Plastic accumulating in our oceans and on our beaches has become a global crisis. Billions of pounds of plastic can be found in swirling convergences that make up about 40% of the world’s ocean surfaces. At current rates, plastic is expected to outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050.

So, it was great news that a 40-year-old San Matean (formerly of the S.F. Giants’ accounting office) has given up her accounting practice to walk the talk of saving our planet. Here is Laura Porter in her own words:

“In 2018 an article in the SF Chronicle about the junk that is present on our beaches, featured a Bay Area woman who had gone “plastic-free” in her life to help make sure she wasn’t part of the problem. So I challenged myself to go to the grocery store one week and buy NO plastic. I ended up with eggs, a baguette, and a little bit of fresh produce. That was it — everything else was plastic, and it was a HUGE wake-up call. I realized that I don’t have control of it, and that we can’t do much to avoid plastic in the general economy.

“So I started looking for ways around it … bulk bins, products in glass or cans, farmers’ markets. At the same time, I started to learn more about plastics — what do those numbers mean? Learning about their toxicity to the human body, lack of recyclability, etc. I realized I’m not doing right by my children to feed them food in toxic wrappings that leaked toxins and greenhouse gases to produce, which ultimately would live for hundreds of years after we died! It was successful to shop plastic-free for a while, but then I ended up buying a lot of plastic-free personal care from these little websites and side-hustles, and just procuring the basics for our family became a Procurement Career! At my best (pre-pandemic), we had one garbage bag per month for our family of 4 … but I had to shop at 3 different grocery stores, multiple websites for deodorant, shampoo, etc., to do it. I realized that if someone as dedicated to plastics reduction as I was felt overwhelmed, most people would never bother. To have a real change required a company to pull together sustainable options.

“Friends and family noticed my swaps. I probably bored many people at cocktail parties with my lectures on the evil of plastic. They asked what products I used, and I happily told them. Then one day I realized that I could be helpful by just stocking a closet in my house and selling these to friends and family, and that’s how my idea started. Then it grew to a local farmers’ market that was trying to get established in the area, and another, and another.

“On April 1, I finally get keys to build the sustainable store that I’ve wanted to shop in for years. Products will be free of single-use plastics, reuse and refill encouraged. For many products, there won’t even be any packaging! We’ll also tell you what to do with it at the end of the container’s life (recycle stainless steel, glass & aluminum, compost paper, cardboard, wool, etc). Groceries will be organic wherever possible — organic food is another area that I can go on a soapbox about, for similar reasons like toxicity of pesticides, loss of biodiversity, farmworker health problems, etc. A lot of this store’s mission is going to be education-based, and helping people understand how their habits may be contributing to climate change or pollution and how to make better choices. But most of all — we just want to make it convenient for people to shop sustainably without having to do all the work that I have over the years!”

Porter will be opening her plastic free products in downtown San Mateo on San Mateo Drive in May. Her opening will include a celebration with fellow Rotarians. She is on the club’s climate change committee.

Almost everyone loves Kevin Mullin, candidate for Congress to fill Jackie Speier’s seat. The county Latinx Democratic Club has endorsed Mullin over Burlingame Councilmember Emily Beach and San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Canepa. The club endorsed both Redwood City Councilmember Giselle Hale and South San Francisco Councilmember James Coleman in the race to fill Mullin’s seat.

What impact will Coleman’s entry have? He and Hale may split many votes. Good news for Diane Papan and the other candidates. Especially the only Republican, Mark Gilham. With so many democrats on the ballot he may end up as the other challenger.

Sue Lempert is the former mayor of San Mateo. Her column runs every Monday. She can be reached at