Trash is killing ocean wildlife

Californians throw away 123,000 tons of plastic bags each year, and too many of them end up as litter in our ocean. Today, there are 100 million tons of trash in the North Pacific Gyre; in some parts of the Pacific, plastic outweighs plankton 6 to 1.

All of this trash in the Pacific is creating an ecological disaster:

  • Turtles and seabirds frequently ingest floating plastic, mistaking it for food. They also get entangled in bags and often drown or die of suffocation.
  • Adult seabirds inadvertently feed small bits of plastic to their chicks — often causing them to starve to death after their stomachs become filled with plastic.
  • Toxic pollutants leach from the plastic into the water. Scientists are now studying whether fish and other marine animals absorb these toxic pollutants. If so, there is a good chance that we also absorb them when we eat fish.

What’s really scary is that scientists tell us this plastic may never biodegrade. And every day we go without tackling this problem, it becomes a little bit worse.

We can stop the waste

Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our oceans for hundreds of years. Californians know this, and are taking action to protect the Pacific.

We’ve made great progress winning local bans and educating the public on the harmful effects of plastic. Today, bags are banned (or soon will be) in more than 100 California communities — and now 1 in 3 Californians are living bag-free. It's a great start, but we’re not stopping until we rid the whole state of plastic bag pollution.

Let's ban the bags statewide!

With more cities banning bags each month, we have the momentum. With your help, we can win an historic victory for our ocean — a statewide ban on plastic bags.

Member support makes it possible for our staff to do research, make our case to the media, reach out to critical constituencies, and help government officials make the right choices for our ocean. Join our campaign by urging Gov. Jerry Brown to ban plastic bags statewide.

Oceans updates

News Release | Environment California

Ventura plastic bag ban moves ahead

Ventura—The Ventura City Council voted tonight to draft a citywide ban on single-use plastic bags. City staff will develop an ordinance, based on a region-wide model, and return for a final vote as early as this fall. To date, 90 California local governments have already banned plastic bags, only 10 away from 100.

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News Release | Environment California

In Latest Victory, Court of Appeal Upholds San Francisco Plastic Bag Ban

San Francisco – A unanimous California Court of Appeal upheld San Francisco’s expanded plastic bag ban, marking the latest in a string of victories for local laws phasing out single-use plastic bags. The lawsuit, brought by the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, had disputed the procedures San Francisco used to expand its plastic bag ban in 2012 and the legality of banning plastic bags in restaurants. This is the first appellate court to consider the restaurant issue. Today’s ruling sets the stage for more cities to adopt and strengthen local laws phasing out plastic bags.

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News Release | Environment California

Truckee Becomes 89th City to Ban Plastic Bags

Truckee— The Town Council fully enacted a citywide ban on single-use plastic bags in a unanimous consent vote. The ban, initially approved on November 18, had to be confirmed at a second reading to take effect per the city’s standard legislative procedure. Plastic shopping bags will be phased out in Truckee starting June 1, 2014. With Truckee, 89 California cities and counties have banned now plastic bags, only 11 away from 100. One in three Californians live somewhere with a plastic bag ban in effect or coming into effect.

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News Release | Environment California

Encinitas to Pursue Plastic Bag Ban

Encinitas— The City Council voted tonight to pursue a ban on single-use plastic bags citywide. This vote clears the way for staff to draft an ordinance that’s right for Encinitas, putting the city on track to phase out plastic bags sometime next year. To date, 88 California cities and counties have committed to phasing out bags, only 12 away from 100. One in three Californians live somewhere with a plastic bag ban in effect or coming into effect.

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News Release | Environment California

Arcata Expands Plastic Bag Ban

Arcata— A unanimous City Council voted tonight to ban plastic bags in Arcata’s grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and retail stores. This vote expands on an ordinance originally adopted by the Council in September. Once approved in a second reading per the city’s legislative procedure, the ban will take effect in six months. To date, 88 California cities and counties have committed to phasing out bags, only 12 away from 100.

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