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

Arcata Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags

Arcata—A unanimous Arcata City Council voted tonight to ban single-use plastic shopping bags. The ordinance, which applies to large grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and certain retailers, will take effect on February 1, 2014.

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News Release | Environment California

Mill Valley Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags

Mill Valley—The Mill Valley City Council unanimously voted tonight to ban single-use plastic shopping bags. The ordinance, which applies to large grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, will take effect after a 60 day grace period.

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News Release | Environment California

Business Leaders, Environmentalists support bag-free San Diego

Elected officials, business and civic leaders, and environmentalists convened at SeaWorld San Diego to declare their support for eliminating single-use plastic bags in San Diego and statewide. 

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News Release | Environment California

El Cerrito Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags and Styrofoam

El Cerrito—The El Cerrito City Council voted tonight to ban single-use plastic shopping bags and Styrofoam. The plastic bag ordinance applies to all stores except restaurants and certain charities, while the Styrofoam law affects restaurants and city vendors. Both bans take effect on January 1, 2014.

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News Release | Environment California

Los Gatos Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags

Los Gatos—The Los Gatos Town Council voted tonight to ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. The ordinance, which applies to all retail stores that sell clothing, food, and personal items directly to consumers, will take effect on February 3, 2014.

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