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 Research & Policy Center

Plastic Bag Bans Win in Supreme Court Yet Again

San Francisco – The California Supreme Court has denied review of a plastics industry legal challenge to Marin County’s plastic bag ban, allowing the ordinance to stand. 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). Lower courts had already unanimously rejected the industry group’s lawsuit.

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News Release | Environment California

Santa Barbara bans plastic bags

Santa Barbara—The Santa Barbara City Council voted unanimously today to ban single-use plastic shopping bags citywide. Once confirmed, the ban will take effect in large grocery stores and pharmacies in three months and in smaller stores after one year. Per standard procedure, the council is expected to finalize the ordinance at a second reading later this month.

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News Release | Environment California

South Lake Tahoe Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags

South Lake Tahoe—The South Lake Tahoe City Council voted this afternoon to ban single-use plastic shopping bags. Once confirmed, the ban will take effect in grocery stores and farmers markets three months after adoption and will apply to all retail establishments after one year. Pharmacies, restaurants, and non-profits are exempted. Councilmembers Laine, Swanson, and Cole voted for the ordinance. Per standard procedure, the council is expected to finalize the ordinance at a second reading later this month.

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News Release | Environment California

San Diego plastic bag ban moves forward

San Diego—The City Council’s Rules and Economic Development Committee unanimously voted today to advance a citywide ban on single-use plastic shopping bags. Councilmembers Lightner, Faulconer, Alvarez, Kersey, and Emerald voted to advance the measure.

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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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