NEWPORT BEACH — The Newport Harbor High School class that rallied the Newport Beach City Council into banning Styrofoam products in restaurants in 2008 expanded its aim and moved its focus inland — starting with Costa Mesa.
The environmental surfing class is on a mission to get restaurants to ditch Styrofoam take-out containers and are asking cities to take the lead by banning the product that fills up landfills, kills wildlife and creates a mess at the beach, students said at a press conference Wednesday morning at the pier.
"We all want to go to the beach, and if [Styrofoam] is on the beach, it's not enjoyable," said freshman Antonio Rossi, 14.
The class lobbied the Costa Mesa City Council on Tuesday night during public comment to take a stand against Styrofoam take-out supplies.
Mayor Gary Monahan directed the Planning Commission to look into the issue and bring it back to the council, Commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick said.
"If we ban Styrofoam in restaurants, people will see it's eco-friendly and will want to go to those restaurants," said freshman Kauhi Hookano, 14.
The students decided Styrofoam had to go after the class did a beach clean-up, said freshman McKenna Foley, 14.
They spent their time picking small pieces of crumbled Styrofoam out of the sand and seaweed, McKenna said.
The students started researching the product and its alternatives, and Earth Resource Foundation — a nonprofit environmental education organization — came in to teach the students about lobbying the City Council and holding press conferences, said their teacher, Scott Morlan.
It took six years to get a ban passed through Newport Beach, but the current students said they are planning on keeping on the Costa Mesa City Council until it passes the ban.
If Costa Mesa does go forward, it would become the first inland city to take the step, said Stephanie Barger, Earth Resources Foundation executive director.
Laguna Beach and San Clemente already have similar bans in place.
If the students can get Costa Mesa to see the light, they are hoping it will be a catalyst for other inland cities to take action, Antonio said.
"All the other inland cities will come one by one," he said.