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

Blog Post

This week: two more cities vote on plastic bag ban | Nathan Weaver

Los Gatos and El Cerrito will both vote on plastic bag ban ordinances this week.

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News Release | Environment California

Ventura plastic bag ban moves forward

Ventura—A unanimous 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. Nearly 80 California local governments have already banned plastic bags, representing nearly 1 in 3 Californians.

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News Release | Environment California Research & Policy Center

Marin Plastic Bag Ban Wins in Court

San Francisco – The California Court of Appeal has unanimously upheld Marin County’s plastic bag ban ordinance. The lawsuit, brought by the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, an unincorporated association, had challenged the county’s 2011 plastic bag ban under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Actions taken by regulatory agencies to protect the environment or natural resources are typically exempt from CEQA’s requirement to prepare an Environmental Impact Report. As the Court of Appeal made clear, this exemption applies to plastic bag ban ordinances.

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News Release | Environment California

LA Mayor signs plastic bag ban into law

Los Angeles, CA – Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has signed LA’s historic ban on single-use plastic bags into law. The ordinance, approved in an 11-1 vote by the City Council, bars stores that sell perishable food from distributing plastic bags at the checkout. The ban takes effect for large stores in January 2014, while smaller businesses, including convenience stores, have until July 2014 to comply. With LA’s policy in place, one in three Californians now live somewhere with a plastic bag ban.

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News Release | Environment California

Sonoma County, Richmond ban plastic bags

Richmond, CA – Richmond became the first city in Contra Costa County to ban plastic bags. Meanwhile, while the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved participation in a joint plastic bag ban with Sonoma’s incorporated cities.

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